The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Five things to do for free in Manchester

The poor student’s guide to Manchester’s hidden gems


Living on a student budget can be difficult, especially when so much of what Manchester has to offer can be so expensive. Fear not, here is a quick guide to the best of Manchester — and the best part? It’s free.

1. Whitworth Art Gallery

Right on the University’s doorstep, the Whitworth Art Gallery is certainly one of Manchester’s gems. Hosting artists from Tracey Emin to William Blake, the gallery boasts an impressive 55,000 items in its collection. Whether it’s a slice of culture you’re after or something to do on a rainy afternoon, you certainly won’t be disappointed. Featuring various exhibitions throughout the year, you are sure to find something to pique your interest. Its eclectic Thursday Lates are becoming increasingly popular, consisting of talks, performances, and live music— all for free.

2. Parkrun

A great way to keep fit and meet new people, Parkrun is held in Platt Fields Park, minutes away from Fallowfield accommodation. The 5km run is timed, but there is no pressure as to how fast (or slow) you want to run. To top things off, they also hold a post run coffee in the Fallow Café for those who fancy rewarding themselves. If you’re able to get up for the start time of 9:00am on a Saturday morning this could be an excellent way to try and improve your time, have a laugh, and feel smug because you’re doing exercise on a Saturday morning. The runs themselves are free, but they do ask that you register here before your first run.

3. The Lowry

Created in 2000 as The Millennium Project for the Arts, The Lowry is a hub for the creative. With no less than three theatres, it makes theatregoing as close to the London experience as possible— without the cost. The galleries are free and exhibit a changing collection of Lowry’s work, with exhibitions from other artists thrown in, and on the first Saturday of each month,  After Hours in the Galleries hosts free music and special events in the evening. Although the theatre shows are not free, for those aged between 16-25 they offer a range of £5 and £10 shows, making the trip out to Salford Quays much more bearable.

4. Manchester Museum

Be honest, how many times have you walked past the Manchester Museum, right next to Whitworth Hall, and not gone in? Well, maybe it’s worth a shot. Dinosaurs, mummies, and live animals are just a few of the things you’ll see as you venture into a building that plays host to artefacts coming from many different periods of history. Satisfy your thirst for the ancient and see what the Vivarium has to offer— just minutes away from lecture halls. With changing exhibitions, there will always be something new to see, so tear yourself away from those books and make the trip— you won’t regret it.

5. Chetham’s Library

This is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world— dating back to its foundation in 1653. The building itself is even older, built in 1421, and so it’s worth the trip just to see how stunning it is, let alone read the books. Even better, it’s situated opposite the National Football Museum right in the heart of Manchester; you can pretend you’re much more intellectual than those across the road, which is a definite positive. As can be imagined, it is hugely popular, so although no library membership is needed, those wishing to study library material are asked to make an appointment at least one day in advance.