Manchester, Greater Manchester
Creative, hedonistic and unreservedly proud of its mighty industrial heritage, there’s always something going on in Manchester.
Located in northwest England, Manchester’s transition from industrial heartland to modern cultural hub has been remarkable. Its industrial heritage and contemporary cool aren’t so much existing side-by-side as walking off into the sunset hand-in-hand. You’ll find restaurants serving modern British cuisine in enormous Victorian warehouses, cutting-edge local designers trading in a thoughtfully restored fish and poultry market, and glossy new shopping centres mingling with Art Deco department stores.
As you’d expect, Manchester’s cultural scene is thriving. The Whitworth’s satisfying mix of historic and contemporary artworks makes it one of Northern England’s must-see art galleries, while newly opened HOME is a hub for international contemporary art, theatre and film. You’ll find the Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry art gallery over in The Quays; with its year-round programme of events and activities, this lively waterfront area is a destination in itself.
Manchester is a city of canals, including Britain’s first. These waterways played a big part in shaping Manchester, and the whole of northwest England. Nowadays the industrial traffic has given way to more laid-back pursuits. Jump aboard a canal tour for a fish-eye-view of Manchester and glide past Victorian warehouses, the shiny new builds of MediaCityUK (home to the BBC), Imperial War Museum North and Old Trafford. Or take a full day to explore the 35 miles (56km) of water between Manchester and Liverpool and see stunning scenery alongside locks and bridges largely unchanged since they were built over 100 years ago.
Music and nightlife
Mancunians (those lucky enough to call Manchester home) are a friendly bunch and nights out here bubble with laughter. The city’s musical heritage is epic – Joy Division, The Smiths, Oasis and Badly Drawn Boy were all inspired by Manchester – and the city also saw the birth of modern club culture. Head to the Northern Quarter – billed as northwest England’s most vibrant neighbourhood – and take your pick from numerous innovative bars and clubs.
Manchester‘s range of outlets will quicken the pulses of the most hardened shoppers. Manchester Arndale is the UK’s largest city centre shopping centre, while the eccentric intu Trafford Centre positions shops such as Selfridges into 3 miles (5km) of ornate granite and marble boulevards. In Spinningfields, the newly developed business district, The Avenue is Manchester’s luxury retail quarter, while inventive independent boutiques cluster in the Northern Quarter. Vinyl junkies will be in heaven browsing Oldham Street’s record shops.
Mancunians are footie mad. No surprise then that Manchester is one of the best places in the world to immerse yourself in the sport. After all, this is the home of Manchester United, one of the world’s most famous football clubs. Follow up the Manchester United Museum and Stadium Tour with a visit to the National Football Museum, packed with football memorabilia and hands-on experiences. But Manchester isn’t just about football. You can catch an international cricket match at Lancashire Cricket Club and test your pedal power on one of the world’s finest and fastest board tracks at the National Cycling Centre too.