Royal Exchange Theatre

#12 in Best Things To Do in Manchester
Royal Exchange Theatre picture
University of Salford Press Office/Flickr

Key Info

Saint Ann's Square

Details

Entertainment and Nightlife, Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.1scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

The Royal Exchange Theatre is known for its compelling stage layout: None of the 760 seats are more than 30 feet from the seven-sided stage. It's also known for its impressive performances, which range from Shakespearean plays to modern works. What's more, the building used to house a different kind of production: It was the site of the city’s old Cotton Exchange, which closed in 1968. Some of the remnants of the exchange can be found in the gold painted cotton flowers on the theater’s pillars.

One TripAdvisor user, who has viewed many a performance at the theater, says: "I […] have always enjoyed the way the seating encourages an intimate atmosphere — you feel so close to the players that you could be part of the action."

If you can't make a show, consider stopping by the theater for a tour. Guided tours last roughly an hour and a half and offer a glimpse of the building's history and the production process. However, you should note tours are only offered about once a month. Admission is £5 GBP (around $8.50 USD) per person, and tours can be reserved through the theater’s box office. 

To reach the Royal Exchange Theatre, you can take the Metrolink tram to Market Street. Performances vary in price by day and by seat. Banquettes (available day of), matinees and preview night tickets are a good way to see a performance on the cheap. For more information on performance schedules and ticket rates, visit the theater's website.

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John Rylands Library1 of 11
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#1 John Rylands Library

The University of Manchester's John Rylands Library is known as much for its beautiful architecture as it is for its collection of rare books and manuscripts. The impressive gothic structure took 10 years to build — after plans were drawn up in 1889, the library finally opened to the public in 1900. Among its vast collection are medieval illuminated manuscripts, featuring a copy of Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales;" the personal letters and papers of notable figures like Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell; and even a Gutenberg Bible. There are also a handful of rotating exhibits."

One TripAdvisor user compared the ambiance of the John Rylands Library to the library from Harry Potter's Hogwarts with its own restricted section and dragon carvings. This user also had some practical advice: "If you need to nip into the loo, use those on the second floor rather than the basement — fine old Victorian craftsmanship on display, with lovely comfortable wooden seats!"

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