Manchester – Marvellous Manchester

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by Polly Larner (courtesy of

Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester
Photo: G-Man

The shopping, entertainment and commercial capital of North-West England, Manchester has an electric atmosphere. Whether you are dining in Europes third-largest Chinatown, bar-hopping in Canal Street or taking in an art exhibition at the bright and airy Lowry, youll realise that this city and its people are quite unique. Boasting the busiest international airport outside the London area, and excellent motorway and recently enhanced rail links, its also easy to reach and a seriously super spot for a short break.

Manchester is a city with a marvellous ethnic mix: not for nothing is Wilmslow Road known as Curry Mile, complete with Asian markets, jewellery and sari shops adding brilliancy, while just across town around Faulkener Street is Britains largest Chinatown – in Manchester local means any flavour cuisine you fancy, including Britains designer-chefs Gary Rhodes and Paul Heathcote and modern, innovative fare. But the traditional staple of fish and chips and mushy (mashed) peas is also worth a try, as is Lakeland lamb and an appetising stew of salted beef, potato and herbs – Lobscouse. Dont be put off by the name Wet Nellie – its a delicious cake!

Manchester has a proud brewing tradition, with several traditional family-run breweries; pubs are great for budget dining – perhaps accompanied by local brew from Thwaites or Hydes. And sports fans could time their visit to enjoy a home match of Manchester United FC (and the National Football Museum is in nearby Preston), though the Theatre of Dreams is worth a visit even when theres no game scheduled.

If trains (not to mention planes and automobiles and engines in general) are your thing, then a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry is a must, built into the oldest passenger railway station in the world. Looking forward as well as backward, this museum houses some amazing gadgets and there are buttons galore to push, making a great interactive experience for all ages.

There is a wide range of accommodation on offer, ranging from several comfortable budget options, to stylish hotels such as Malmaison and the Marriott resort at Worsley Park.

Out and about: on the threshold of the Pennine hills (Brontë territory), near Liverpool (Merseyside, its stunning waterfront, modern cathedral – and the Beatles!) plus the lovely Lake District (Beatrix Potter country) and Blackpool, Englands liveliest seaside resort, with its colourful electrical illuminations each autumn – Manchester is well placed for all these and more.

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