by Centre for Chinese Contemporary Arts (CFCCA)

Manchester is well known for the number of musical giants that emerged from their thriving music scene, with significant names including Oasis, the Smiths, Joy Division, the Stone Roses, The Chemical Brothers and countless others. Besides its ability to nurture musical talent, Manchester sees a variety of organisations that support contemporary art by providing space and opportunities to artists and art lovers alike.

One such organisation that boasts a consistently interesting programme of events and exhibitions is the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. CFCCA is unique as it is the national leader in bringing Chinese contemporary art and visual culture to a UK audience. For over 30 years, CFCCA has led the UK in showcasing artists from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the diaspora, through a rich programme of exhibitions, events, residencies and collaborations.

Here are some indispensable cultural staples from around Manchester, selected by Peggy Manning from CFCCA.

Art Trail

Start at CFCCA, then work your way through the city via these venues:

Castlefield Gallery

Located on the edge of Castlefield this small public art gallery exhibits the best upcoming and emerging artists, with an established record of showing artists who go on to national and international acclaim.

Chetham’s Library

Chetham’s Library has been in continuous use as a free public library for over 350 years. It is housed in a beautiful sandstone building dating from 1421 which was built to accommodate the priests of Manchester’s Collegiate Church.

Manchester Art Gallery

A must-see, located in the centre of Manchester. From historical collections to international contemporary art, Manchester Art Gallery brings fresh perspectives, encourages conversations and sparks debate.

Manchester Craft and Design Centre

Manchester Craft & Design aims to make contemporary visual art, craft and design accessible for all. Housed in a former Victorian fish market building, in the Northern Quarter, it contains independent designers and makers.

Paradise Works

Paradise Works is an independent, artist-led initiative providing studio and project space to a proactive community of 36 contemporary artists. The gallery space hosts a critically engaged programme of exhibitions and film screenings, showcasing works from new and established artists working nationally & internationally.


Street Art in Northern Quarter

Dotted throughout the Northern Quarter you can find stunning examples of street art from internationally acclaimed artists.

Sweet study spots


TAKK coffee house is a café and creative space in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Nordic-inspired, TAKK is the result of travels throughout Scandinavia and Iceland. It’s a big fat love letter to Reykjavik…its people and their love for the coffee bean.

Manchester Central Library

There is soft seating throughout the library where you can curl up with a book or use a laptop. For a more formal study area, there is the spectacular reading room on the first floor which has seating for over 300 people.

John Rylands Library

The John Rylands Library is a place of wonder. A glorious gothic backdrop for inspiration while you study. It was created more than 100 years ago as a gift to Manchester and its people. It is free to enter and open 7 days a week.

Alternative and art cinemas


A new place to hang out, meet pals, watch a film and hear good music, or listen to a talk, take a class, engage in considered discussion and debate, get some work done. There’s room for everyone to follow their own path; engage or unwind, socialise, graze, dine and drink.


HOME is for curiosity seekers, for lovers of the dramatic, the digital and the deeply engaging; for radicals and reciprocators. HOME as an exhilarating programme of theatre, film, music, exhibitions and more.

Stockport Plaza

The Stockport Plaza Super Cinema and Variety Theatre is an award-winning example of the finest in 1932 Art Deco architecture which has been lovingly and painstakingly restored to her opening day condition. It often stages film festivals so keep an eye on their whats on pages.

Adornments for your calendar

Chinese New Year, 24-26 Jan

Chinese New Year is a time of great festivity in Manchester’s city centre and beyond. From dragon dancing and lantern parades to a three-day street food festival and free workshops. There is something for everyone.

Manchester Literature Festival

Manchester Literature Festival brings top names in the literary world to various venues throughout Manchester every October. This year sees the likes of Alexander McCall Smith, Kate Atkinson and Kate Mosse alongside Jo Brand and Graham Norton. They also host literary walking tours including the infamous Punk Poet Pub Tour.

Sounds from the Other City

Representing the best in new music from Salford and beyond.

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