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Who says Manchester is just footy and tunes? The city has its classy side too, and nowhere is it more evident than the historic Manchester Opera House. Nestled amid vibrant streets and old-school pubs, this venue is where high culture meets Mancunian charm.
Ready to swap your footy chants for some riveting theatre? This guide is your ticket (literally) to the Manchester Opera House.
Best Time to Go
The Opera House is a showstopper year-round. But for a truly electric atmosphere, nab a seat during the Manchester International Festival. Just a quick tip: always check their official website for schedules. They occasionally spring some delightful surprises on their patrons.
Things to Know
Address: 3 Quay St, Manchester M3 3HP, United Kingdom
Contact: +44 844 871 3018
Fees: Prices swing between £20 to £80, depending on the show. Want a pro-tip? Book online and early, it might just trim your bill.
Best Seats: It’s subjective, but the Stalls offer up-close views, while the Circle gives a broad overview of the stage. Either way, you’re in for a treat.
Parking Situation: Let’s face it, central Manchester and easy parking are like chalk and cheese. There are nearby car parks, but maybe consider public transport or a cab to avoid the parking pandemonium.
How to Get to and Around the Manchester Opera House
Trains and Trams: Manchester’s pretty dandy when it comes to public transport. With the Opera House a hop, skip, and a jump from Deansgate and St Peter’s Square stations, you’ll be there in a jiffy.
Walking: If the Mancunian rain isn’t pouring, take a leisurely stroll. City centre to the Opera House is a breeze, with a side of delightful street vibes.
Background and History of the Opera House
Ah, a bit of a tale, this. Opened in 1912, the Opera House in Manchester has seen a century of art, drama, and music. It stood strong through the ebbs and flows of the city’s cultural evolution, establishing itself as a beacon for theatre enthusiasts.
Over the years, it has played host to everything from Shakespearean plays to glitzy West End productions, and even iconic rock bands looking for an intimate setting for their gigs.
Originally known as the “New Theatre,” this majestic edifice underwent several transformations, adopting its current name in the 1920s. The architecture and design tell tales from its Edwardian beginnings, giving it a classic charm amidst the urban sprawl of Manchester.
It’s not just a building; it’s a piece of Manchester’s heart and history, representing a legacy of artistic passion and perseverance.
Things to Do in Manchester Opera House
You do not want to miss The Grand Circle Experience. Picture the plush red velvet, opulent golden trims, and a vantage point that gives you a bird’s eye view of the stage. This isn’t just any old seat—it’s a perch from history.
Not only is the Grand Circle a prime spot in the Manchester Opera House, but it’s also the best place to appreciate the venue’s Edwardian architecture. With details dating back to 1912, you’re literally sitting in a piece of Manchester’s cultural heritage.
It’s an experience like no other, blending old-world charm with modern-day performances. We bet you’ll be looking for an encore seat booking here!
Next on your itinerary should be the Backstage Tour. Ever wondered what happens behind the velvet curtain? Here’s your chance to get a peek. This tour lets you walk the hallways once trodden by thespians, divas, and stagehands.
The highlight? A visit to the dressing rooms where many a star has prepped, primped, and had their pre-show jitters. You might even find some age-old graffiti from actors leaving their mark.
If you’re lucky, you could catch a glimpse of a rehearsal in action, offering a raw, unfiltered look at the world of theatre. It’s not just a behind-the-scenes tour—it’s a deep dive into the heart and soul of the Opera House.
As you dive deeper into the Manchester Opera House, make sure to pay a visit to the Heritage Collection. This dedicated space pays homage to the rich history of the venue, with a curated selection of memorabilia, photographs, and antique playbills from past productions.
You’ll see rare, first-edition posters and learn stories of yesteryear’s performances, iconic actors, and unforgettable moments. A trip down memory lane, this exhibit is a testament to Manchester’s cultural legacy and the Opera House’s pivotal role in it.
For history buffs and theatre enthusiasts alike, this is a treasure trove of stories waiting to be discovered. It’s a heartwarming throwback, a reminder of the timelessness of the arts.
A visit to the Opera House isn’t just about being a spectator; it’s about immersing oneself in the world of theatre. Regularly, the venue hosts Workshops and Masterclasses led by professionals in the field.
Whether it’s an acting workshop, a masterclass in set design, or an introduction to the world of theatre production, there’s always something to learn and experience.
These sessions offer a hands-on approach, allowing you not just to witness but actively participate in the magic of theatre-making. It’s not just a lesson; it’s a chance to rub shoulders with professionals, to learn the ropes, and maybe, just maybe, get bitten by the theatre bug yourself!
Introducing little ones to the arts has never been more fun. Manchester Opera House’s Family Theatre Mornings are tailored just for the young (and young at heart). On these special mornings, the grand stage takes on a more whimsical tone.
We’re talking about entertaining kid-centric performances that’ll have both toddlers and teens hooked. Puppet shows bring stories to life in the most delightful ways, while storytelling sessions transport them to magical worlds.
It’s an absolute treat, not just for the kids but for the entire family. Get ready to be enthralled, laugh out loud, and make memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Manchester Opera House isn’t just about live performances. Occasionally, it switches gears and becomes the most elegant cinema you’ve ever set foot in.
Opera House Film Nights showcase a brilliant mix of films – from those timeless classics that tug at your heartstrings to today’s blockbusters that keep you on the edge of your seat.
And let’s be honest, watching a film surrounded by the Opera House’s majestic interiors, paired with sound quality that’s top-notch? It’s a cinematic experience that’s hard to top.
While many come for the shows, the Manchester Opera House is an architectural marvel in its own right. Embark on the Architectural Tour to appreciate the design intricacies, from the sweeping staircases to the ornate ceiling details.
As you marvel at the Edwardian Baroque styling, you’ll understand why this venue is listed as a Grade II building. Guides well-versed in its history will point out hidden symbols, discuss the significance of design choices, and share tales of how the structure has evolved over time.
Don’t forget your camera; every corner has a photogenic surprise waiting for you.
For a twist to the regular theatre experience, join the Opera House After Hours event. As the curtain falls and the crowd disperses, a select few get to experience the venue in its nighttime glory. With dimmed lights and an air of mystery, it’s a whole different world.
Live music, special performances, and an open bar transform the Opera House into an evening hub of activity. It’s a mix of class, culture, and camaraderie, making for an unforgettable night out in Manchester.
Exclusive backstage tours during these events offer a sneak peek into the hidden corners of the Opera House, letting attendees explore places usually reserved for the cast and crew.
The magic of theatre isn’t just about the actors or the script; it’s also about the world created on stage. And a significant part of that magic comes from costumes and props. The Costume and Prop Exhibit is a curated display showcasing the craftsmanship and artistry behind the scenes.
Venturing through the exhibit, you’ll also encounter interactive sections where artisans and experts discuss the design and construction processes, giving a deeper dive into the evolution of a costume from mere fabric to a character-defining outfit.
From opulent gowns of historical dramas to the quirky props of modern plays, each piece tells a story. You’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the detail and effort that goes into bringing a character or a scene to life. And who knows, you might even get to try on a costume or two!
Where to Eat in Manchester Opera House
It’s not just about satiating your hunger; it’s about immersing yourself in the atmosphere. Nestled within the theatre, the café and bar offer an array of delightful treats and beverages to complement your theatre experience.
Sipping on a cocktail named after a famous play or munching on treats inspired by the evening’s performance, the ambiance is unmatched. It’s a little slice of sophistication in the midst of Manchester’s hustle and bustle.
Many regulars also recommend trying their seasonal specials, which are carefully crafted to reflect the theatre’s current programme and the changing moods of Manchester’s weather. Make sure to toast to a night of art and elegance between acts or before the curtain rises.
Address: 3 Hardman Square, Manchester M3 3EB
Phone: 0161 834 2756
Right in the heart of Spinningfields, Bill’s Restaurant & Bar promises a culinary journey like no other. Priding itself on its eclectic mix of dishes, it’s where classic meets contemporary.
Whether it’s a flavour-packed butternut squash stew or a hearty steak and chips, there’s a plate for every palate. If you’re catching an early show, their brunch offerings are a must-try – eggs benedict with a twist, anyone?
To wash it all down, their drinks menu is just as extensive, boasting everything from refreshing mocktails to vintage wines. With its ambient lighting and chic decor, it’s the perfect spot for a pre or post-theatre meal.
Address: No. 1, 1 Hardman St, Manchester
Phone: +44 161 204 3333
Offering panoramic views of Manchester, the 20 Stories Restaurant isn’t just about fine dining; it’s an experience. Located in the iconic No.1 Spinningfields building, every seat provides a view worth a thousand words.
Their menu features modern British dishes prepared with a touch of sophistication. From succulent seafood options to tender cuts of meat, it’s gourmet dining at its best.
If you’re in the mood for something lighter, they have a curated selection of small plates perfect for sharing. And for dessert? Let’s just say their chocolate fondant is the stuff of legends.
Address: Unit 5 Block A, Manchester M3 3AN
Phone: +44 161 696 4859
Just a stone’s throw away from the Manchester Opera House, the Slug & Lettuce in Spinningfields is where modern design meets a vibrant atmosphere, making it a must-visit spot for theatre-goers and foodies alike.
With its sleek interiors and an expansive menu, it’s no wonder it’s a hit with both locals and visitors. Offering a diverse range of dishes, there’s something for everyone, from classic British pies to spicy tacos.
But what truly sets them apart is their cocktail menu. Crafted by expert mixologists, each drink is a symphony of flavours. From mojitos with a twist to the more experimental concoctions, it’s a haven for cocktail lovers.
Address: The Pavilion, Byrom St, Manchester M3 3HG
Phone: +44 161 503 3222
The Ivy Asia offers a gastronomic journey through the continent without leaving Manchester. With its opulent interiors and glowing green semi-precious stone flooring, you’ll be transported to a world of luxury.
Their menu is an array of Pan-Asian delicacies, from tantalising tempura to succulent sushi rolls. Every dish is a masterpiece of flavour, blending traditional recipes with contemporary flair.
Complementing the food-tasting experience is their extensive drinks menu, featuring Asian-inspired cocktails that are sure to impress. So whether you’re grabbing a quick bite before a show or winding down after, The Ivy Asia promises an unforgettable experience.