New arrivals in Manchester can look forward to a diverse and varied lifestyle. There's something to suit everyone in the city – from shopaholics on the hunt for the latest must-have piece and revellers looking for a good night out, to avid foodies and sports enthusiasts. Expats moving to Manchester with children will also find there are plenty of spots for a fun day out with the little ones.
Shopping in Manchester
Shopping in Manchester is a real treat and people from smaller neighbouring towns head to the city on weekends to take advantage of its larger variety of stores. Whether looking for a new wardrobe on a tight budget, something for a special event, or a truly unique item, Manchester shoppers won't be disappointed.
The stunning Barton Arcade, dating back to 1871, is located in Manchester’s trendy Deansgate area and now houses a range of small independent boutiques and exclusive shops. This is definitely the ideal place for expats to treat themselves or to find a special gift for someone.
Expats can visit Manchester’s King Street to indulge in the latest collections from international and British designers. Manchester is also home to a number of luxury department stores, such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.
When the Manchester rain hits, residents head indoors to one of the city’s malls. The famous Trafford Centre is as much a theme park as it is a shopping destination, and there's plenty to keep the whole family entertained here. Afflecks in Manchester's Northern Quarter is the place for indie commerce, where shoppers will find everything from alternative clothing outlets to old-style record stores and retro gaming shops.
Nightlife in Manchester
Manchester has a bustling and eclectic nightlife scene. For those that enjoy a drink after work, there is a watering hole on every corner. Whether one prefers the historic atmosphere of a traditional English pub, or finely crafted cocktails and stunning views from a rooftop bar, the city has it all.
Expats who enjoy clubbing will be pleased to know that the party never stops in Manchester. Thanks to the city’s large student population, many clubs are open every day of the week; partygoers don’t need to wait until the weekend to have a good time. From '60s soul to acid house, disco and everything in between, Manchester’s club scene is vibrant and varied; it’s easy to understand why the city is a top UK party destination.
Eating out in Manchester
Manchester is fast gaining a reputation for good food, and residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining. At eateries in Manchester, expats will find cuisine from a range of destinations, including Thailand, Spain, Italy, France, Mexico and more.
Manchester is home to the largest Chinatown in the UK after London, and here diners can sample authentic Asian delicacies. The city’s Curry Mile in Rusholme is said to have the highest concentration of South Asian restaurants in the whole of the UK, including Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi eateries.
Sports and outdoor activities in Manchester
Expats who enjoy keeping fit will find plenty of opportunities to get involved in a range of activities in Manchester. Those needing a break from the hustle and bustle of the city can discover breathtaking scenery along one of the many cycle routes or hikes.
Manchester has one of the biggest and best swimming facilities in the UK – the Manchester Aquatics Centre – where swimmers can enjoy a swimming pool that once hosted the Commonwealth Games. For a cool day out with the kids, stop in at the Chill Factore, where the UK’s longest indoor ski slope can be found.
Those who prefer to watch sport rather than taking part can catch a game at Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium, the second-largest stadium in the UK after Wembley Stadium.
See and do in Manchester
Art and history lovers will quickly discover that Manchester has an abundance of cultural attractions in the city. In addition to its vibrant nightlife and endless shopping spots, there are various museums, art galleries and other unique experiences to be enjoyed.
Below is our list of some of the best things to see and do in Manchester.
Imperial War Museum North
This incredible museum explores the impact of war through insightful exhibits. A highlight is the exhibit titled 'The Big Picture Show', which makes use of digitally projected images and surround sound for an immersive experience. The museum café overlooks the Quays, and the sights of the Ship Canal can be taken in from the viewing platform.
John Rylands Library
The University of Manchester’s main library was founded by the wife of successful cotton merchant John Rylands and first opened in 1900. The imposing neo-Gothic building has elaborate vaulted ceilings and beautiful stained-glass windows. The impressive Historic Reading Room boasts an incredibly peaceful atmosphere, and is well worth a visit.
Situated behind one of Manchester’s busiest shopping areas, the cathedral dates back several centuries and offers a peaceful retreat from the bustle of the city centre. Stunning stained glass and intricate carvings decorate its interior.
The Manchester Museum boasts beautifully curated exhibitions that invite visitors to step back in time and learn about fascinating cultures throughout the ages and from all over the world. The museum also has child-friendly exhibitions for the little ones.
Old Trafford Museum
Attracting thousands every year, and a must for football fans, the Theatre of Dreams held its first game in 1910. Visitors can take a tour around Manchester United’s historic ground and gain exclusive access to player-only areas.
Annual events in Manchester
Manchester’s event calendar is brimming with activity. Whether expats are literary enthusiasts, sports fans or food connoisseurs, they are sure to find a number of annual festivals that suit their interests.
Here is a list of the main festivals and events on Manchester’s calendar.
Chinese New Year (January/February)
Manchester is home to the third-largest Chinatown in Europe, and each year locals get together to view the colourful New Year parade and join the celebration which lasts several days. Along with the colourful Dragon Parade, attendees can also enjoy Chinese arts and crafts, various performances and of course an array of authentic Chinese cuisine.
Manchester Marathon (April)
Sporty expats looking for a challenge should secure a place in the Manchester Marathon. The UK's second-largest marathon, the event is known for its 'fast, flat and friendly' route. Those that prefer to spectate will find there are still plenty of ways to be part of the event as the city comes alive with music and entertainment on race day.
Manchester Jazz Festival (May)
This is a fantastic summer festival where music fans can enjoy live jazz at a range of venues across the city. Many of the performances are very reasonably priced, with some being completely free.
Manchester Pride (August)
This is one of the biggest and most loved celebrations of LGBTQ+ life in Europe. Many people fly in from overseas to attend the colourful parade and the numerous afterparties that are held in the Canal Street area on the August bank holiday.
Manchester Literature Festival (October)
This was once a simple poetry festival but has now grown into one of the top literary events to be held in Manchester. Guests can attend readings, discussions and special events at various venues across the city.
Christmas Markets (November/December)
From the middle of November, Manchester’s city centre plays host to a number of Christmas markets. Expect to find old-fashioned toys, Christmas decorations, ceramics, paintings, jewellery and knitwear. A glass of mulled wine certainly helps get everyone into the festive spirit.