Manchester is famous for being the music capital of the UK, home to some of the biggest and coolest British bands. Manchester is also famous for its rich sporting culture, tight-knit community, strong identity, and working class history.
Being one of the UK’s most important and influential cities, there are plenty of things that make Manchester worthy to be on your UK bucket list.
Before your city break, let’s discover the 28 things Manchester is known and famous for.
Manchester is famous for its music scene
1. The Smiths
Manchester is famous for its music and musical legacy, with The Smiths being one of the most well-known bands to come out of the city. Big in the 1980s, The Smiths are a hugely influential indie rock band, with the lead singer, Morrissey, going on to have a successful solo career after The Smiths broke up.
Even if you don’t recognize the titles of some of their songs or albums, I can almost guarantee that you would be able to recognize one of their iconic intros or guitar riffs, thanks to the genius of Johnny Marr. Manchester is so famous for The Smiths, that you can even go on a Smiths themed walking tour to follow in their rock ‘n’ roll footsteps.
2. The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses are one of Manchester’s most famous and utterly iconic bands, having inspired a huge list of other bands on the ‘Madchester’ scene. They were at the peak of their fame around the late 1980s and early 1990s, helping to keep Manchester on the music map of Britain.
3. Joy Division & New Order
Another of Manchester’s most famous bands is, of course, Joy Division. Joy Division is probably responsible for spawning Manchester’s huge musical tradition, cited as a massive influence on a lot of other Manchester bands.
This cult-favorite band came to a tragic end when the lead singer, Ian Curtis, sadly committed suicide in 1980. Despite the tragedy that surrounded his life and the band, his bandmates continued to make music in his honor after his death under the name New Order. As New Order, they took their music in a different direction and went on to have huge success.
Although 1970s Punk music was much more of a London scene in the UK, the Buzzcocks were one of the UK’s biggest Punk bands, and hailed from Manchester. Even if you don’t know much about Punk music or the Buzzcocks, you will undoubtedly be familiar with their most famous song ‘Ever Fallen In Love’.
Oasis just might be the biggest band to come out of Manchester, taking the rock ‘n’ roll world by storm during the 1990s and early 2000s. Taking a lot of inspiration from Manchester’s other famous artists, notably The Stone Roses and The Smiths, the Gallagher brothers have always embraced their utterly Mancunian identity, from their football team, to their accent, to their instantly recognizable swagger. Responsible for such huge songs as Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger, Oasis truly is the jewel in Manchester’s musical crown.
6. The Chemical Brothers
Manchester is most well-known for its reputation as the city of indie rock, but it is also responsible for one of the biggest and best electronic DJ acts in the world: The Chemical Brothers. Bursting once the scene in the 1990s as part of Britain’s big beat boom alongside The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers added another string to Manchester’s musical bow.
The Madchester scene was a unique moment in time, originating from Manchester in the late 1980s. This music scene characterizes Manchester and its eclectic and strong identity. Madchester saw a perfect fusion of alternative indie rock with acid house and rave culture, psychedelia and 1960s elements, culminating in an exciting burst of Manchester-centric music and fashion.
Manchester is famous for football
8. Manchester United Football Club
Everyone knows that football is the most popular sport in the UK, and Manchester is famous for its rich footballing legacy, and intense rivalry between its two football clubs. Manchester United is probably the most famous football club in the UK and potentially the world. Every football fan knows the success and fame of Manchester United, its players, and its home ground of Old Trafford.
9. Manchester City Football Club
Manchester City might not have the history of accolades that Manchester United possess, but they are still currently one of the world’s most successful and famous football clubs. Often seen to be the more rock ‘n’ roll football team in Manchester, thanks to being the team of the Gallagher brothers, Manchester City has actually overtaken Manchester United in the Premier League in recent years. Despite the many titles that Manchester City have won in the past few years, the rivalry between these two footballing greats is still as tense as ever.
10. National Football Museum
Being the football capital of the UK, it’s only right that Manchester is home to the National Football Museum. The National Football Museum is a fantastic place to visit to learn more about the nation’s favorite sport. Delve into the history of football and Manchester’s particular relationship with it.
Manchester is famous for history
11. Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution is what transformed Manchester from a small market town, to the cosmopolitan city it is today. During the time of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester became one of the UK’s leading hubs for the manufacturing and distribution for cotton and textiles. This eruption of new industry saw the city’s population boom and, subsequently, the town of Manchester become the bustling city it is today.
12. Women’s Suffrage
Manchester also played a pivotal role in the British Women’s Suffrage movement, being the birthplace of the famous Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. In fact, Manchester was the birthplace of the campaign for votes for women, and has continued to celebrate this fact with pride. Today, there are statues of prominent suffragettes in Manchester, and regular festivities to celebrate anniversaries of the movement.
13. Marx & Engels
Manchester just may be the de facto birthplace of communism. It was in Manchester that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels conducted the majority of their research to perfect their philosophy for redefining society along class lines. During the 1800s, Manchester was a place of some considerable poverty and a large working class population, making it the perfect place for the birth of socialism. In fact, there is even a Friedrich Engels statue in Manchester to pay homage to their impact on the city.
Manchester is known for its neighborhoods
Manchester’s Chinatown is the second biggest and most famous Chinatown in the UK. If you’re visiting Manchester around the time of Chinese New Year, you can be sure to witness some of the country’s biggest and most exciting festivities. Even if you’re not, Manchester Chinatown is still home to a fantastic selection of bakeries, restaurants, and shops.
15. Manchester Gay Village
Manchester is very famous for its thriving gay scene and the Gay Village, centered around the buzzing Canal Street. This pedestrianized street stretches along one of the Manchester canals and is lined with cafés, bars, and nightclubs targeted at the Manchester gay community. Always a fun destination for a night out, the Manchester Gay Village can not be beaten for fun, vibrancy, and a welcoming atmosphere.
Manchester is famous for media
16. Coronation Street
Coronation Street is a popular British soap opera that has been on the air since 1960. This hugely popular TV show is set and filmed in Manchester, following the dramatic lives of the street’s residents. One of Manchester’s most popular tourist attractions is a visit to Coronation Street itself.
Based in the Manchester neighbourhood of Salford, the Coronation Street set and studios is a must-visit for any fans of Corrie. Offering the chance to tour the street and pose in the famous pub, a tour of Coronation Street is an iconic taste of Manchester media.
17. BBC Media City
MediaCity is a relatively new development in the Salford Docks part of Manchester, home to the BBC Studios. In fact, Manchester is quickly becoming an exciting alternative to London for the media-minded. Not only do the newly famous Manchester BBC Studios play host to some of the UK’s favorite BBC shows, but this new media hub in Manchester is a place of innovation for social media and technology.
Manchester’s well-known tragedies
18. Peterloo Massacre
The Peterloo Massacre is another key event in Manchester’s famous history with the working classes. Taking place in 1819 at St Peter’s Square in central Manchester, the Peterloo Massacre saw the cavalry charge into a crowd of 60,000 civilians who were protesting for parliamentary representation.
This tragedy came as a result of the hardship inflicted on the people of Manchester after the Napoleonic Wars. Their demands for a fairer democracy were met with absolute cruelty, and is an incredibly important part of the city’s history, as well as the history of parliamentary Britain.
19. Manchester Arena Bombing
Sadly, Manchester became world famous in 2017 because of the Manchester Arena bombing following an Ariana Grande concert. This horrendous tragedy took the lives of 23 people, with 800 people sustaining injuries from the deadly blast.
As is characteristic of Manchester, however, the city responded with a message of unity and hope. Ariana Grande organized a benefit concert called One Love Manchester to raise money for the victims of the blast. This concert saw performances from Manchester greats such as Liam Gallagher, as well as international sensations like Justin Bieber. In all, this gig raised £17 million and was a testament to the spirit of Mancunians in the face of hatred.
Manchester is famous for innovation
20. Splitting the atom
It was at the University of Manchester in 1917 that the world changed forever. Here, Ernest Rutherford accomplished the famous feat of splitting the atom. This incredible breakthrough at Manchester’s prestigious university led to the development of nuclear power and radiotherapy.
It was also at the famous University of Manchester where the material graphene was isolated. Scientists all over the world knew that the 2D, one atom thick substance existed, but could not decipher how to extract it from graphite. It wasn’t until 2004 at the University of Manchester that two researchers were able to isolate it.
The Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester continues to develop and research this substance and its uses to this day.
22. The Manchester Computer
Manchester is also responsible for the development of the modern computer. Known as the Manchester Computer, the University of Manchester developed these large computers between the years of 1947 and 1977. This 30 year project led to the development of what we use today, from the first domestic computers, to our Macbooks and smartphones. Yet another groundbreaking innovation for the University of Manchester.
23. Alan Turing
Alan Turing is most famous for cracking the ENIGMA code during WWII, ultimately allowing the Allies to defeat the Nazis. Although born in London, Alan Turing studied at the University of Manchester. He also, tragically, committed suicide in Greater Manchester.
Alan Turing was notoriously wronged by Britain: he was a homosexual during a time where it was illegal. As a result of this, despite his genius and pivotal role in helping the British government during the war, he was chemically castrated. No gesture can ever right the heinous wrong done to him, but today there stands an Alan Turing memorial statue in Manchester’s Gay Village. Here, he is immortalised for his genius and strength, and is hailed as a gay icon.
Manchester’s famous symbols
24. The Manchester Worker Bee
The Manchester worker bee is the famous emblem of the city and its people. The worker bee has been the symbol of Manchester for over 250 years, representing the strong work ethic of the people of Manchester, as well as the city being a hive of activity, buzzing with life. In recent years, it has also come to denote the famous spirit of unity in Manchester.
Manchester’s famous places to visit
25. Trafford Centre
The Trafford Centre is one of Manchester’s famous shopping havens. Located five miles outside of the city center, the Trafford Centre is in Greater Manchester.
An incredibly popular place to shop, Brits from all over the country flock here for a day out. The Trafford Centre is home to a whole host of shops and restaurants, from high street favorites to high-end brands.
26. Arndale Centre
The Arndale Centre is Manchester city center’s answer to shopping. A bustling haven of restaurants and shops, as well as a fun market area, the Arndale is in the heart of Manchester. It’s easy to spend lots of hours (and money) strolling around its shops and street food outlets and soak up the energy of Manchester’s core.
27. Manchester Printworks
The Printworks in Manchester is a sort of one-stop-shop of eating, drinking, and entertainment. Right in the heart of Manchester city center, a stone’s throw away from the Arndale Centre, Printworks is a crowd-pleaser.
Head to the Printworks if you’re in search of a sociable venue to eat, drink and spend the night in the company of your friends, and some friendly strangers. Formerly an actual printworks, today this venue is home to a cinema as well as a number of chain bars and restaurants.
28. The Curry Mile
The Curry Mile is the unofficial name of the Wilmslow Road that runs through the Manchester neighborhood of Rusholme. This main road is known as the Curry Mile because of its many curry houses and restaurants. This famous street is the go-to destination for people in search of curry in Manchester. People have even been known to conduct a sort of ‘pub crawl’ at the Curry Mile restaurants.
As you can see, Manchester is famous for a plethora of things, from the tragic to the gastronomic. Manchester is truly one of the UK’s most exciting and interesting cities. What else is Manchester famous for? Share it in the comment box below!