It’s been home to the likes of Danny Boyle, Guy Garvey, and Victoria Wood, and now it’s Greater Manchester’s very first Town of Culture.
North of the city centre, Bury has often been overshadowed by the likes of southern neighbours Altrincham, Chorlton, and Didsbury. Well, this year, it’s Bury’s time to shine.
There’s so much more to Bury than the maze of its world-famous market or big-brand shopping on The Rock (though they’re both excellent ways to spend a day here).
Head toward the parish church and you’ll find yourself in Bury’s Cultural Quarter, where red brick buildings lend a nod to the town’s past as a big player in the Industrial Revolution.
Here, history and heritage mingle with independent shops and cafés for a proper good day out – and not a Primark in sight.
Victoria Wood Statue
Born a few miles away in Prestwich, Victoria Wood went to school in Bury and is honoured here with a statue that was unveiled last year. Her legacy is at the heart of the Town of Culture programme for this year, and locals and visitors alike are encouraged to take part in The Happy Festival, inspired by the sunny outlook of the wonderful Ms Wood – good news: you don’t actually have to be as funny as the lady herself.
Library Gardens, Bury, BL9 0DN
Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre
There’s no mistaking Bury Art Museum – climbing its rather formal façade is a floral sculpture in a riot of colour that creeps around the archway of its entrance. Inside, take the broad stone staircase up to the galleries, and lose yourself in artwork that celebrates Bury’s rich history. You’ll find work here by local artist and paper manufacturer Thomas Wrigley, as well as paintings by JMW Turner and John Constable. The Art Shop on the first floor has a selection of prints and sculptures that you can take home with you or, if you’re feeling less spendy, the gift shop downstairs is packed full of handmade, indie bits and bobs that won’t set you back more than a couple of quid.
Moss St., Bury, BL9 0DR
The Fusilier Museum
Across the road from the art museum, The Fusilier Museum tells the story of the Lancashire Fusiliers and Royal Regiment of Fusiliers from the 17th century to the present day. As well as featured exhibitions, the museum also holds special events for children to get hands on with history. There’s even the chance to explore your Fusilier ancestry in the archives.
Moss St., Bury, BL9 0DF
The East Lancashire Railway
At the heart of Bury’s cultural quarter is the East Lancashire Railway, with a history stretching back to the Industrial Revolution. This heritage train line runs for twelve miles through the Irwell Valley with stops at some of the picturesque towns surrounding Bury. There’s loads to do here, including a guided ‘rail’ ale trail (see what they did there?), dining experiences on board, and the opportunity to get stuck in as a train driver for the day. If history is your thing, Bury Transport Museum makes for an interesting visit, and the railway’s past is brought to life every year on 1940s Weekend. Whatever you do, be sure to make time for a pie and a pint at The Trackside – you can’t miss it, it’s right on the platform.
Bolton St Station, Bury, BL9 0EY
And when you need to take the weight off your feet, Bury’s cultural quarter has just the spot. The good news is, they’re all within a five-minute walk.
Bloom Coffee Co.
It’s comfy, it’s cosy, and it’s the perfect place to fuel your day. Bloom Coffee Co. focuses on serving simple, tasty food and creating an inviting space to meet and chat. Pop in early for an Australian style breakfast, call back in the evening for Spanish small plates, and stay into the night when café becomes bar. Better still, it’s dog friendly.
6 Market St., Bury, BL9 0AJ
Bury has its fair share of sticky-floored pubs, but this isn’t one of them. Describing itself impressively as ‘a three-floor food and drink emporium,’ The Clarence stands out for its classy décor and enticing menu. The attention to detail that goes into the food and drink here is obvious, and there’s a lot of local stuff on offer – special mention goes to Manc cake makers extraordinaire Silver Apples Bakery and Bury-brewed beer by Silver Street Brewing Co.
2 Silver St., Bury, BL9 0EX
Across town but well worth a trip, Arcade Club is a gamer’s paradise. It’s set over three floors crammed with classic, retro games as well as modern games with all the latest tech. Sega Rally? They’ve got it. VR gaming? They’ve got that too. There’s even a room dedicated to pinball machines and all the food and drink you could need to fuel even the most energetic Dance Dance Revolution session.
Ela Mill, Cork Street, Bury, BL9 7BW
Family-owned Kwoff aims to bring Bury a unique wine shopping experience – a down-to-earth, no frills attached approach to wine that is affordable but never cheap and nasty, always high quality but never pretentious. Making its home in a former bank, this is a treasure trove of wine, beer, and spirits that’s well worth a browse, and the team here are always happy to chat and advise.
8 Silver Street, Bury, BL9 0EX
No, not the tram you took to get here. The Met is Bury’s finest arts and entertainment venue, with a packed programme of theatre, music and comedy. There’s something for everyone, from workshops, to youth theatre, to live folk music. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a big name – comedians like John Bishop and Jason Manford have played warm-up gigs here for a cut of their usual ticket price.
Market St., Bury, BL9 0BW
Adjoining The Met is bar and restaurant Automatic, who have all of your pre-show refreshments covered. There’s a diverse and exciting menu of modern classics including steaks, small plates, burgers and pizzas. They also serve up a great breakfast, should you find yourself in town early and want to avoid Wetherspoons. Gin lovers won’t want to miss the newly opened gin bar Wanderlust, which opens right onto the theatre.
Market St., Bury, BL9 0BW