Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Wigan, England

  • Published 2022/08/10

Replete with historical sites, ancient churches, industrial mills and collieries, modern shopping centers, beautiful country parks and lakes, and exotic woodlands, Wigan is one of the best destinations to visit in England.

The town in Greater Manchester is situated on the River Douglas.

Wigan and its extensions form the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, which gained immense economic importance during the Industrial Revolution.

Presently, Wigan is home to famous historical remnants and natural attractions, stadiums, shopping malls, and amusement parks, making it an ideal location for a weekend visit or a short vacation.

While there are many places to go sightseeing in the town, here’s a list of the best things to do in Wigan, England:

Pay a Visit to Wigan Pier

Daytime view of Wigan Pier

Pete Stuart /

Wigan Pier, the historic canal wharf situated on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, is a reflection of the architecture of the Industrial Period.

Made famous by George Orwell’s 1937 novel The Road to Wigan Pier, which documented Wigan’s living conditions before World War I, Wigan Pier has not only historical but also literary value.

Exterior of Wigan Pier

David Dixon / The Orwell, Wigan Pier

Though the original wooden pier was destroyed in 1929, a duplicate model of the historic port has been reconstructed in the same place.

The restoration of warehouses at Wigan Pier paved the way for the opening of museums and music halls.

It has bays where boats used to enter for loading or unloading contents that were brought in wagons from nearby rails and tramways.

See Trencherfield Mill and Witness Wigan’s Industrial History

Exterior of Trencherfield Mill

Pete Stuart /

Wigan is famous also for its age-old mills and mines.

Trencherfield Mill, connected to the Wigan Pier through waterways, is one of the oldest cotton spinning mills in England and was built in 1907.

This four-story building with a basement and a chimney is believed to be one of the largest working mills in England, possessing a mammoth of 2,500 horsepower to run all its machinery.

After the restoration of the mill, it has been given over to multiple uses.

Exterior of Trencherfield Mill

Galatas / Trencherfield Mill

A part of it has been made a museum that displays industrial architecture and machinery, while the other sections were transformed into harbor bars, restaurants, and living apartments.

The hundred-year-old Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine is worth seeing, especially when steaming, as it enables one to visualize how it worked historically.

However, you can only witness this magic if you visit it on a “Steaming Sunday,” as the steam engine doesn’t work every Sunday.

Head to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Sidewalk of Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Pete Stuart /

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is a historical site in Wigan.

It is the longest single canal in England, running for about 127 miles, and offers its visitors opportunities like boating, walking, and cycling.

The canal links Wigan Pier with Trencherfield Mill, Haigh Woodland Park, and DW Stadium.

Stonebridge over Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Martin Holden Images /

If you are a nature lover, you may also choose to go for a long walk along the canal.

The canal has walkways, each starting from Wigan Pier and leading to different destinations like Arley Hall, Leigh Bridge, and Appley Bridge.

To have the best experience, you shouldn’t miss taking a boat ride down the canal.

A boat on the waters of Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Keith Heaton /

Enjoy Yourself in the DW Stadium

Signage of DW Stadium

Graeme Lamb /

Established in 1999, the renowned DW Stadium has been a venue for several international rugby matches in Britain.

It has hosted the World Club Challenge four times and several international series of matches between Britain and Australia and Britain and New Zealand.

Rugby tournament in DW Stadium

Louise Milburn, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wigan’s two well-known sports teams, namely the Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletics, often play matches in this stadium.

If you are under the impression that you can only go to the stadium to watch a match, you are absolutely wrong.

The DW Stadium also has dance floors, bars, and restaurants where you can chill.

Exterior of DW Stadium

Pete Stuart /

Spend a Whole Day at Haigh Woodland Park

Exterior of Haigh hall at Haigh Woodland Park

Keith Heaton /

Manifesting a perfect blend of natural and man-made beauty, this park is one of its kind in Britain, showcasing gorgeous wildlife and views of Wigan.

Haigh Woodland Park has a lot in its store for adventure lovers.

Located inside the park, High Ropes Adventure comes in the form of high ropes and climbs.

If you want to take a tour of the entire park, you can do so without tiring yourself out.

You can safely take a Segway ride around the estate.

Beautiful manmade falls at Haigh Woodland Park

Doubleclix /

Also, don’t miss out on the opportunity to take a circuit winding ride on the Haig Hall Miniature Railway, but make sure to turn up only on weekends or holidays.

A lot of fun activities and events for children are also held here.

The park’s main attraction is Haigh Hall, a historic manor that was built in the 12th century and then rebuilt for the earl, James Lindsay.

An Italianate tower supporting a pyramided roof, sash windows above a Tuscan-column porch, a series of tall casement windows, and a cast-iron balcony and staircase all add to its majestic beauty and splendor.

The grounds of Haigh Woodland Park

Pete Stuart /

Explore Wigan’s History and Culture at the Museum of Wigan Life

The Museum of Wigan Life is a public museum and heritage site.

Designed by Alfred Waterhouse, who was also the designer of the London Natural History Museum, this building was once the town’s first public library.

Built in the fashion of Tudor Revival Architecture, this library was opened in 1878.

It is here George Orwell engaged in intense research for writing his book, The Road to Wigan Pier.

Due to the relocation of the library elsewhere, the old library was transformed into a history shop exhibiting local history collections in the exhibitory area and registers of parish churches in the research/study area.

In 2010, the shop was closed down, and the building reopened as the Museum of Wigan Life.

Renovations were done to better equip the museum to house reflections of Wigan’s life and culture.

The Public Library Committee Room still exists but is modified, and the museum displays collections belonging to the period of Industrial Revolution, coal mining, and cotton milling, as well as relics of the First World War and earlier eras.

Experience Karting at Three Sisters Circuit

If you are an adventure enthusiast, you have to experience all that this famous race circuit has to offer.

Three Sisters Circuit’s track length ranges from 400 to 1,600 meters.

There are separate karting arrangements for adults and juniors, along with Arrive ‘n’ Drive facilities for both adults and kids.

If you want to attend the adult karting sessions, you must book and pay in advance.

On track days, you can get a chance to drive high-performance supercars with brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche.

It also hosts bike riding events, multi-activity and bespoke events, fundraising karting events, AIM laser combat, and various team endurance events.

The best thing about this place is that you do not have to be an experienced driver to do all this.

They render adequate guidance to familiarize the first-time drivers with karts.

Other facilities such as children’s parties, Bambino Karting Lessons, and Under 17 Driving School are available for children.

Wander around Mesnes Park

Exterior of Mesnes Park's famous pavilion

Keith Heaton /

Mesnes Park dates back to 1878 and lies close to Wigan Town Centre.

This beautiful Victorian park consists of fine grass lawns, flower beds, and long pathways.

Covering an area of 30 acres, the park comprises an entrance lodge, a pavilion, statues, fountains, pools, and a cafe.

The octagonal pavilion made of cast iron and terracotta lining, along with a two-floored seating, forms the park’s central attraction.

The sandstone steps leading to the pavilion also lead to the Boer War Memorial, which is dedicated to the soldiers of the Boer War.

A bandstand on the grounds of Mesnes Park

Keith Heaton /

Towards the right of the main path, there lies a bronze statue of Sir Francis Sharpe Powell, who was a former local politician and the park’s benefactor.

It’s strange but true that there is a popular belief that if one touches the foot of the statue, it brings a streak of good luck.

The entrance lodge is rented for weddings and parties.

Besides these, this park also has an exquisite bandstand, the Coalbrookdale fountain, and a beautiful duck pond.

The majestic entrance gateway has a label of 1878, and the well-renowned cafe at the center of the park deserves a special mention for its luscious desserts, snacks, drinks, and shakes.

Pit tub with flowers at Mesnes Park

Keith Heaton /

Attend Events Hosted by The Old Courts

Far view of The Old Courts

Pete Stuart /

The Old Courts is a not-for-profit multidisciplinary art center that organizes events related to theater, music, comedy, dance, and touring.

This former Victorian courthouse now houses the Grand Vault, with a generous capacity of more than 200 spectators, courtrooms for ceremonies, a seated theater and cinema hall, art studios and rehearsal halls, galleries and suites used for exhibitions, and the well-known Bailiff Bar.

The Grand Vault is a large live music performance venue.

Close view of The Old Courts exterior

Nicola Patterson /

Its primary purpose of making arts more accessible to the residents and visitors of Wigan has almost made it the town’s cultural hub.

Located near Wigan Bus Station and Wigan Train Station, this is one of the favorites of visitors.

Tourists especially love this place because every week, it brings a new set of activities, including poetry workshops, live performances of bands, recitations, story-telling, musical gigs, and other cultural exchanges in the form of talks and lectures.

Side view of The Old Courts exterior

Nicola Patterson /

Admire the Charming Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen is a small beautiful countryside area located in Appley Bridge.

It is a natural wildlife site consisting of a brook running amidst covers of different old species of trees.

Although there are a few man-made bridges over the brook and benches beside the paths, take note that there aren’t any car parking spaces or toilets.

Summer is the best time to visit this site.

Waterfalls and debris surrounding the brook and covers of oaks, birches, and alders present breathtakingly splendid views.

Go Shopping in and around the Grand Arcade

Entrance to the Grand Arcade

Rept0n1x, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Abundant in scenic beauty and heritage sites, Wigan also has many shopping centers ranging from designer shops to stores selling local handicraft items.

The Grand Arcade is the largest mall in the town, where you can spend an entire day.

The famous George Formby Statue lies here.

Apart from the Grand Arcade, there are several options available in Wigan for shopping.

If you want to go street shopping, you can explore all those independent shops in the historic streets of Jaxons Court.

Interior of Grand Arcade

Ben Sutherland from Crystal Palace, London, UK, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Makinsons Arcade and Hallgate offer a variety of materials such as handmade jewelry pieces, decorative items made by metal smiths and local craftsmen, customized clothing, and regarded antique pieces.

Do not forget to try the various street food items here, too.

The Galleries Shopping Centre is another complex where you can get everything you want.

Antiques and Oddities is a famous specialty shop with various products that reflect Wigan’s history and culture.

Embark on a Journey to the Past at the Astley Green Colliery Museum

The Astley Green Colliery Museum is the only remnant of a coal mining engine house exhibiting collections of colliery locomotives and artifacts, a giant steam engine possessing a capacity of 3,300 horsepower, historical headgear, and a tunnel.

This engine house was operative until 1970, thereafter becoming a museum housing the most extensive collection of colliery locomotives.

Regarded as a Grade II scheduled monument, this is undoubtedly one of the most significant historical sites in Wigan and a popular shooting location.

Have a Fun Time at Velocity Trampoline Park

One of the biggest indoor parks in Europe, Velocity Trampoline Park in Wigan offers fantastic activities, entertainment, and programs for people of all ages.

Velocity Trampoline Park offers a variety of family-friendly activities, including climbing, trampolining, and toddler time.

The park has a big soft play structure, dodgeball courts, basketball hoops, a clip’ n climb area, and much more.

It is the pinnacle of entertainment and the ideal setting for events involving huge groups.

Explore their fantastic park, huge airbag, and other facilities!

See Different Species at Wigan Flashes Local Nature Reserve

The region allows residents and visitors to experience a wealth of animals and various ecosystems within easy reach of Wigan’s town center since the countryside is right outside their front doors.

Open water, sparse grassland, wet forest, reedbed, fen, and scrub are among the environments at Wigan Flashes Local Nature Reserve.

These environments support more than 200 species of birds, dragonflies, and orchids.

The site should be protected because of its rich biodiversity, significance as a local asset, and potential as a source of awareness and information.

Additionally, there are a number of events that take place on-site, such as health walks.

Order a Delicious Meal at the Fat Olive Restaurant

The Fat Olive Restaurant prides itself on serving freshly prepared meals using products from regional producers.

It has a fantastic modern design and a welcoming atmosphere.

They make sure to match everyone’s liking from either the a la carte menu or their weekly menu specials, as the menus are created with an international concept and a typical Lancashire touch.

The Fat Olive Restaurant offers a two-course menu of healthful food that is specially created for patrons and tourists alike and a complete wine list, as well as beers on tap and in bottles.

Additionally, they have a function space that can be used for events like parties and other occasions.

Conquer Obstacles at Ninja Warrior UK Adventure Park

The popular ITV show Ninja Warrior UK served as the inspiration for the Ninja Warrior UK Adventure Park, a supervised activity and fitness center.

You may fully explore the park and take on the enormous variety of inflatable airpark features and obstacles during Ninja Warrior UK Wigan sessions.

Use your ninja abilities to climb, balance, jump, and swing across various obstacles!

The adventure park also has a renowned Warped Wall.

Begin your ninja adventure here, as it’s a terrific location for family outings and staying in shape.

Have Lunch at Gallimore’s Restaurant

Gallimore’s Restaurant has a solid reputation for serving both lunch and supper meals that are both affordable and of excellent quality.

It is one of the best restaurants in Wigan Town Centre for modern cuisine.

They provide a blend of foreign foods in a casual setting at their location.

The highest quality meals from all around the globe are freshly cooked to the customers’ specifications.

Along with an assortment of international beers, exquisite wines, spirits, and other beverages are readily accessible at Gallimore’s Restaurant.

Appreciate your time spent unwinding in this restaurant’s contemporary setting.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Admire the Majestic Church of St. Wilfrid

Exterior of the Church of St Wilfrid

Keith Heaton /

A Grade I-listed building that is also part of the National Heritage List for England, this old Anglican Parish Church is located in Standish, near Wigan.

Entrance gate of Church of St. Wilfrid's courtyard

Keith Heaton /

Portraying a blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, the church is believed to have been rebuilt between 1582 and 1584 and was founded even earlier.

The church has an octagonal spire, arches, a nave of Tuscan columns, and a churchyard divided into two sections, one of which contains the graveyard of four World War I soldiers and the other nine World War II soldiers.

Old medieval door of Church of St. Wilfrid

Keith Heaton /

Discover the Beauty of Worthington Lakes

The calm waters of Worthington Lakes

Sue Burton Photography /

The astonishing beauty of Worthington Lakes also deserves a special mention.

Spread across an area of 50 acres and located near Wigan, comprising three reservoirs and dams surrounded by woodland, this picturesque location has become a much-preferred picnic spot.

Daytime view of Worthington Lakes

Keith Heaton /

One can surely while away one’s time by gazing in admiration at its mesmerizing scenes and immersing in its peaceful ambiance.

Lakeside trail of Worthington Lakes

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

Embrace the Wonders of Nature in Borsdane Wood

Tall trees at Borsdane Wood

Doubleclix /

Situated in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, Borsdane Wood is a semi-natural woodland that was a dense wood cover before the 17th century and gained the designation of Local Natural Reserve in 1986.

The 85-acre wood has covers of native tree species like oak, ash, birch, cherry, hazel, hawthorn, and blackthorn, along with plenty of green spaces.

Flowing waters of Borsdane Wood brook

Doubleclix /

It also shelters a wide variety of wildlife.

The Borsdane Brook flows through the wood in Wigan, adding to its splendor and beauty.

Its exotic views are worth exploring.

Final Thoughts

Wigan has everything and more, whether you like taking walks through the countryside, visiting the arcade, attending museum and brewery tours, or spending the day at the park.

Both history buffs and sports enthusiasts won’t run out of amusement in Wigan.

Bring your buddies and spend quality time together, featuring a ton of entertainment.

Don’t pass on Wigan’s many attractions and activities!

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