11 Places in Manchester to take a breather

Take five in the city

Manchester City Centre has more to offer than at first sight, it’s part of what makes the city such a great place to live in and explore. Beside the busy streets and behind the tall buildings, we have some amazing green spaces and squares. These spots can be easily missed as we hurry on our way to work and dash between shops. It’s important to take a few minutes every now and then, and enjoy a different side of the city.

Following lockdown and as we start to resume daily activities, these places will become more important than ever before. Whether you’re taking some exercise, shopping, socialising, or visiting town for work – these spots are just around the corner.

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Angel Meadow Park

18-minute walk from the Town Hall

Take a short walk past the Co-operative Group Building (One Angel Square) and you’ll find this beautiful public park spanning 7.4 acres. It’s the perfect place to take a stroll, spend time with friends, and is a popular spot for dog walkers.

The history buffs among you will also be aware this area is fascinating, being situated next to the location of the world’s first steam-powered cotton factory in 1780, the site of a mass grave for 40,000 paupers, and being a location in works of LS Lowry.

Trees in Angel Meadow Park

Manchester City Council

St John’s Gardens

10-minute walk from the Town Hall

Not far from the Science and Industry Museum you will find this stunning area. It proves to be a popular location for local residents and lunch breaks for nearby office workers, and it’s easy to see why. The garden was awarded a Green Flag in 2012 for promoting a “welcoming, safe and well-maintained” environment, values it continues to hold to this day.

This is the site of the former St John’s Church which was demolished in 1931. It’s thought that around 22,000 were buried in its graveyard. It also happens to be situated beside Old Granada Studios, the place where Coronation Street used to be filmed. Often when looking for a quick place to shoot an exterior scene away from the street, this location was used by the cast and crew.

Manchester City Council

Castlefield Basin

18-minute walk from the Town Hall

There are so many great spaces in and around Castlefield that it’s hard to know where to begin. Castlefield Basin is a great starting point if you’ve yet to explore this historic area. From here, you can take a serene walk, and see how old and new industries have merged. Once you’ve crossed over the Bridgewater Canal, take a break on the steps of Castlefield Bowl or head across to Mamucium, a former Roman fort built around 79 AD. It’s generally accepted this is where Manchester got its name, which should come as no surprise!

For those of you wanting to learn more about Castlefield’s history, you can find fascinating insights on the many information boards that are dotted around the area.

Image of Castlefield Basi

Credit: David Dixon

Bridgewater Basin

7-minute walk from the Town Hall

In a spot that can very easily be missed, nestled beside the iconic Bridgewater Hall is a great place to take a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Bridgewater Basin opened in 1764 as part of the Bridgewater Canal, and is a breathing space in Manchester that’s hiding in plain sight.

Floating islands have been planted to attract all sorts of wildlife, these ecosystems link in with the concept of Synaesthesia, which relates particular colours to sounds. It’s a perfect fit for a space next to our internationally acclaimed concert hall.

Image of Bridgewater Basin

Manchester City Council

Sackville Gardens

9-minute walk from the Town Hall

This is one of Manchester’s most loved areas, being a fantastic green space in a central location that is home to many of the city’s cherished memorials. Most famously, it contains a statue of Alan Turning, often cited as ‘the father of modern computing.’ The apple held in his hand represents forbidden love, as well as it being the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

Other LGBT memorials can be found in the garden, including the Beacon of Hope (the UK’s only permanent memorial for people living with, and who have lost their lives to, HIV or AIDS), and the Transgender Memorial.

The park means many things to the people who frequent it, so as well as being a spot to relax and enjoy life, it’s equally a place for reflection and to remember loved ones.

Image of Sackville Gardens

Credit: Visit Manchester

Vimto Park

12-minute walk from the Town Hall

Popular with students due to its proximity to local university buildings, Vimto Park may be small, but it has plenty of personality. This is in part thanks to ‘A Monument to Vimto’ by Kerry Morrison, a large wooden sculpture that pays homage to the British drink in a spot nearby where it was invented.

It’s not unusual to find people reading here, or studying outside when the weather is good. Despite being in a busy area close to Piccadilly Station, you can often feel like you’re miles away from the city.

Image of Vimto Park

Credit: skittledog

Sadler’s Yard

14-minute walk from the Town Hall

Tucked away around the corner from the Printworks is one of Manchester’s more recent developments. The square opened on 4 December 2015 and is named after James Sadler, a balloonist, chemist, and pastry chef who made the first manned balloon flight from Manchester in 1785.

Although situated near tramlines and passing traffic, the tall buildings that surround the square close you off from the busy streets. This turns the noises into distant sounds, making the area an idyllic spot to take some time out for yourself.

Image of Sadler’s Yard

Manchester City Council

Exchange Square

10-minute walk from the Town Hall

One of Manchester’s more popular areas, Exchange Square is a great place to watch the city go by. If you’ve passed through before, you’ll know it’s slap bang in the centre of the city, making it a handy spot to recharge your batteries.

Earlier this year the council completed work to repair and improve Exchange Square’s iconic fountains. They are now lit with colour energy-efficient LED lighting and are animated with water jets. The square is also home to many iconic buildings including the Corn Exchange, The Old Wellington Inn and Sinclair’s Oyster Bar.

Image of Exchange Square

Manchester City Council

St Ann’s Square

7-minute walk from the Town Hall

Situated between Cross Street and Deansgate, St Ann’s Square is another area of Manchester steeped in history. St Ann’s Church, which sits at one end of the square, was consecrated in 1712, and bears the marker for the central point of the city.

At the other end stands The Royal Exchange, this was formerly the largest trade room in the world during the industrial revolution and is now one of the north’s leading theatres. For those wanting to rest their feet during a busy day of shopping, or enjoy their lunch away from the office, you couldn’t find a more convenient spot.

Imagine of St Ann’s Square

Credit: Oliver Dixon

St Peter’s Square

2-minute walk from the Town Hall

Anyone who has visited the stunning Central Library will have passed through St Peter’s Square, an important cog in the city. There are four tram platforms, constantly in motion, which provide a quintessentially Mancunian backdrop for anyone wishing to take a break here.

The Midland Hotel, which stands across from the square, is where Rolls met Royce in 1904, resulting in the formation of Rolls-Royce motorcars. The Square is also home to the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, and is the city’s first statue of a woman since Queen Victoria.

Image of St Peter’s Square

Manchester City Council

Manchester Central

4-minute walk from the Town Hall

In the recently rejuvenated area in front of the Manchester Central Convention Complex, Manchester Central is a nice open space to take some time out and reflect on the city’s history.

This is the spot where the Peterloo Massacre took place on 16 August 1819. Following a peaceful protest, where 60,000 people gathered from all across Manchester to demand political reform, 18 people tragically died at the hands of the authorities.

In August 2019, Jeremy Deller’s memorial commemorating the Peterloo Massacre was unveiled. It comprises a series of concentric circular stone steps, engraved with the names of the 18 victims and the places the marchers had come from.

Image of Manchester Central surrounding areas

Credit: Gerald England

Appreciating Manchester’s spaces

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Whatever the reason you’re in Manchester city centre this summer, take some time to appreciate the green spaces and squares that we have to offer. If the lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that these places should be valued and celebrated as much as any other part of the city.

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