Leisure & culture links in Manchester

Museums & Galleries

Manchester Art Gallery have worked closely with our project to improve the experiences of individuals who have Autism who visit the gallery. They have now developed a series of creative, sensory activities especially aimed at children with autism entitled Open Doors.

Each month they explore different themes and ideas with their artists and volunteers.

The sessions are aimed at children and young people aged 5-16 and their families or carers.

Sessions are FREE Drop in, no need to book.


To find out more about their upcoming sessions click on their logo below:

Cinema &Theatre

Many cinemas and theatres in Greater Manchester are now offering 'Relaxed Performances' for individuals who have Autism.

What is a relaxed performance?

Relaxed performances are open to everyone, but the environment has been specifically adapted for individuals who have an Autistic Spectrum Condition, individuals with sensory and communication disorders, those with learning disabilities and anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment.

During a relaxed performance the theatre will aim to reduce some of the sensory aspects of the environment such as the sound and lighting levels where needed, they may take out strobe or some flashing lights and any unexpected bangs/noises. If the auditorium is very dark the house lights are usually raised a touch. Audience members are able to walk in out of the auditorium as they need to and there may quiet areas as these help with stress levels. The staff are given some training so they have some basic understanding of autism and the cast are given a briefing as to how different this audience may react.

This may from theatre to theatre, so do contact the theatre if you have any questions before your visit.

Click on the cinema chain or theatre you would like to visit in Manchester to find out about their up coming relaxed performances:


The Trafford Centre have intu have been working in partnership with the North West charity and Together Trust and their team of autism specialists, to develop a number of helpful resources for individuals with autism and their parents/ carers.

They have developed a visual guide (aimed predominantly at children with ASC) and a detailed guide (aimed predominantly at parents/carer or adults with ASC ) to the centre, which aim to support you from the early stages of planning a visit, arriving at the centre, information about the amenities and what to do in an emergency. They have also developed alert cards that can be used throughout your visit at your discretion. You can download there for free from their website

Quiet shopping hours

In 2016 a number of stores in Manchester have trialed a 'quiet hour' shopping for customers with Autism who prefer quieter shopping environments. This involves being able to shop at a quieter time of the day without instore music being played or loud tannoy announcements. For further quiet hour dates or further developments in quiet hour shopping in Manchester see our social media.

Social and leisure activity groups