They say that a city's entertainment and recreational options speak volumes about that city's prospects as a desirable and rewarding place to live. If such were the case, then Manchester's vibrant entertainment options certainly speak volumes about the joy of living in this fine, fun-filled city. Manchester is an absolute standout when one considers the depth and breadth of its entertainment options in the field of art, cinema, dance, music, theatre, museums, sports and the performing arts.
Take for example the Lowry at Salford Quays, inaugurated in 2000 at a cost of £21m, courtesy of the National Lottery fund. Located near the Imperial War Museum North and the Old Trafford football stadium, Pent Shed ManchesterThe Lowry is best known for keeping the biggest collection of L.S. Lowry's original paintings. Art is its soul, they say, but the Lowry has more to offer than just art. It also houses two theatres that regularly feature touring plays as well as musicians and comedians. These are the Lyric, believed to have the largest stage in the United Kingdom, outside of London's West End, and the Quays.
Located at the city centre, the Whitworth Art Gallery regularly stages eye-opening, innovative exhibitions and houses over 31,000 great modern pieces, including paintings by Constable, Turner and other masters. The gallery has an impressive collection of watercolours, wallpapers and textiles. Among its most famous pieces is the marble sculpture Genesis by Sir Jacob Epstein.
Cornerhouse on Oxford Road is renowned for its contemporary and cutting-edge multi-media visual art displays. Since it opened in October 1985, the centre has established itself as a venue for artistic experimentation and innovation.
When it comes to contemporary dance performances, Dancehouse Theatre, home of the Northern Ballet School, stages regular performances all year round. The Lowry and the Green Room also stage dance performances throughout the year.
Manchester has a diverse array of musical offerings as well, ranging from classical and opera to pop, rock and jazz.
Bridgewater Hall is the seat of classical music in Manchester and home to the Halle Orchestra and the Manchester Camerata as well as a regular venue of the BBC Philharmonic. The city's best professional musicians are usually products of the Royal Northern College of Music where they were trained to compose and perform musical scores, jazz concerts and opera arias, among others. Musically gifted children are taught the finer points of their craft at Chetham's School of Music and these prodigies perform free lunchtime concerts for the public.
On the other hand, the city's leading proponents of pop, rock and jazz converge at Manchester Academy, Labatt's Apollo, Band on the Wall and Roadhouse. You will find well-known indie and dance bands at Manchester Academy while Labatt's Apollo regularly hosts a diverse array of famous British and American singers as well as Asian superstars. Band on the Wall has nightly blues and jazz jam sessions while the musical stars of tomorrow hone their skills at the Roadhouse, a dark and sweaty basement venue. Numerous bars, pubs and nightclubs throughout the city host their own in-house live bands.
In addition, Manchester has many museums that chronicle not only the city's rich history but also important milestones and landmarks of the United Kingdom and the world. For example, the Manchester Museum, which is owned by the University of Manchester, features over six million items from seven continents, including carvings from India, ancient Egyptian crafts from Africa, age-old art from the Mediterranean, fossils from Australia, pottery from the Americas and much more, including a fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex from South Dakota.
Meanwhile, the Museum of Science and Industry is concerned with science, technology and industry, especially Manchester's significant contributions in these areas, particularly in textiles, computing, communications, sewerage and sanitation. The People's History Museum, located on The Pump House on Bridge Street, traces Manchester's social culture, particularly with regard to the history of working people in the United Kingdom over the past 200 years. Manchester's other notable museums include the Greater Manchester Police Museum, Imperial War Museum North, Manchester Jewish Museum, Pankhurst Centre, Urbis and The Gallery of Costume.
Manchester also has a dazzling array of clubs and nightspots for the local party people (check out the separate article on this website). Among the most popular venues are Rock World (rock 'n roll and heavy metal), South, Phoenix and Paradise Factory (techno, trance and funky house); Prague V (gay friendly) and student-oriented venues such as Club Underground, The Ritz, The Brickhouse and 5th Avenue.
The theatre scene in Manchester is alive and well. The larger venues include the Palace Theatre, the Royal Exchange Theatre and the Manchester Opera House, which regularly hosts West End touring shows. Although relatively small and located at the basement of the Central Library, the Library Theatre has received glowing critical reviews for staging the works of modern playwrights. Other notable smaller theatres include the Green Room, Contact Theatre and Dancehouse. The Royal Northern College of Music has four theatre spaces for opera and classical music. In addition, Manchester has two widely-respected drama schools: the Manchester Metropolitan University School of Theatre and the Arden School of Theatre.