Manchester Life

103 Fantastic Free Things To Do In Manchester

By Laura O'Neill

You won’t have to spend a penny with our roundup of free things to do in Manchester.

We love top-notch cocktails and extravagant pop-ups as much as the next person, but if your bank account is feeling the pinch, Secret Manchester is here to lend a hand. We’ve put together an all-singing, all-dancing roundup of free things to do in Manchester, and it’s a humdinger of a list (if we do say so ourselves).

[Feature image: a_citys_lore]

Free museums in Manchester

Photo: scienceandindustrymuseum

Those looking for a cultural fix are in luck, we’ve got loads of free museums in Manchester boasting ancient art, fascinating objects, and even a dinosaur skeleton.

1.Greater Manchester Police Museum

2. Museum of Science and Industry

3. Imperial War Museum North

4. The Manchester Museum

5. People’s History Museum

6. Bury Transport Museum

7. Museum off Hatting

8. Touchstones Rochdale Museum

9. Salford Museum and Art Gallery

10. Museum of The Manchester Regiment

11. Greater Manchester Museum of Transport 

12. Portland Basin Museum

13. Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum

14. Stockport Museum

15. Rochdale Pioneers Museum

16. Bolton Museum, Aquarium and Archive

17. Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre

18. Saddleworth Museum

19. Clayton Hall Living History Museum

Free festivals in Manchester

Photo: amywebbersinger

Those who don’t have the budget for Bluedot needn’t miss out on festival season. We’ve got plenty of free ones to choose from.

20. Oldham Music Centre Summer Music Festival

21. Diggle Blues Festival

22. Oldham Carnival Community Festival

23. Envirolution Festival

24. Rochdale Feel Good Festival

25. The University of Manchester Community Festival

26. The Didsbury Record Fair at The Stoker’s Arms on June 16

Free gigs in Manchester

Photo: bunnyjacksonsmcr

Hearing about free stuff is just music to my ears. From jazz gigs to classical concerts, music flows freely across Manchester.

27. Whit Friday Brass Band Concerts

28. The Royal Northern College of Music Afternoon Recitals

29. Jazz Gigs at Matt and Phreds

30. Bierkeller Jam Night every Thursday

31. Live music and entertainment five-days-a-week at The Patron 

32. Live music every Wednesday night at The Pen and Pencil

33. Live music on Sundays and Mondays at Bunny Jackson’s Juke Joint

34. Jazz and Blues bands at The Fitzgerald every Thursday night

35. Free stand up every Monday night at The Frog and Bucket

36. live entertainment most nights of the week at the Thirsty Scholar including bands, comedy nights, and poetry nights

37. Be in the audience for TV shows including Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Mastermind, A Question of Sport.

Free markets in Manchester

Photo: altymarket

They’re only free if you don’t buy anything, but there are always free samples to be had…

38. Northern Quarter Makers Market

39. Altrincham Market

40. Levenshulme Market

41. Arndale Market

42. Bury Market

43. Stockport Market

44. Castlefield Market

45. Heaton Moor Market

46. Ramsbottom Food and Craft Market

Free art galleries in Manchester

Photo: whitworthart

‘There is no must in art because art is free.’ It certainly is with these free art exhibitions and galleries, perfect for an eyeful of thought-provoking paintings, sculptures, and installations.

47. The Whitworth

48. Manchester Art Gallery

49. Castlefield Gallery

50. The Holden Gallery

51. Caustic Coastal

52. The Weavers Factory

53. Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art


54. HOME

55. Paradise Works

56. Bankley Studios and Gallery Manchester

57. Salford Museum and Art Gallery

58. Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre

59. ARTZU Gallery 

60. The Lowry

61. Chuck Gallery 

Free attractions in Manchester

Many of the big tourist draws charge for entry, but we’ve found some sneaky ways around that. You wanted free attractions in Manchester? You got ’em.

62. The Pankhurst Centre

63. Manchester Airport Runway Vistors Park

64. The Donkey Sanctuary

65. Central Library – Home to the British Film Institute archive

Free walks to go on in Manchester

From free walking tours of Manchester to self-guided ambles, we’re here for you. Stretch your legs, up your step count, and get a proper eyeful of everything the city has to offer with these walks.

66. Free Manchester Walking Tours 

67. Tour The Plaza

68. Reddish Vale Country Park

Free views over Manchester

Photo: cloud23bar

It’s time to get high for free (behave). See stunning, panoramic views of Manchester from high-level platforms or by climbing really big hills.

69. Alderley Edge

70. Werneth Low 

71. Cloud 23 (You’ll have to buy a drink but it’s free to go up and worth it for the view)

72. The tram ride from Cornbrook to St. Peter’s Square

73. The Air Shard at Imperial War Museum North

74. The Casket Works in Cow Lane, Salford

75. Station Approach (the walkway that leads up to Piccadilly Station)

76. Winter Hill in Rivington Moor

77. The grassy hillock in Liverpool Road that overlooks The Ox

78. Salford Quays

79. Chorlton Water Park

Beautiful places to visit for free

Photo: photosofbritain

Behold, the beauty of Manchester!

80. The Northern Quarter

81. Salford Lads Club to recreate The Smiths album photo

82. John Ryland’s Library

83. Chetham’s Library

84. Manchester Cathedral 

85. Ordsall Hall

86. Manchester Town Hall

Free parks and gardens in Manchester

Photo: _ashutterbug_

Park yourself at one of these spots for a fabulously free afternoon.

87. Heaton Park

88. Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens

89. Burrs Country Park

90. Haughton Dale

91. Whitworth Park

92. Reddish Vale Country Park

93. Chorlton Water Park

94. Buile Hill Park

95. Alexandra Park

96. Stalybridge Country Park

97. Werneth Low Country Park

98. Clifton Country Park

Best shops in Manchester to explore

Photo: matthewadshead76

These places are perfect for a browse, but you’ll have to resist temptation to keep that whole free thing going. From historic market buildings to cute independent shops, this city is a shopping paradise.

99. Afflecks Palace

100. Mackie Mayor

101. The Trafford Centre

102. Barton Arcade

103. Hatch

Also published on Medium.