A trip to the UK isn’t complete without enjoying its second city, the “Capital of the North of England”. Manchester is a modern haven of sexy British cool, known for its music scene, shopping, dining and of course football. Why is Manchester so effortlessly hip?
Pic by Anosmia
Situated in North West England, Manchester began as a relatively small Roman fort. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution when, like a young boy hitting puberty, the city suddenly sprouted and grew its muscles. Textile manufacturing was the fuel for Manchester’s newfound growth, and the city started to expand at an impressive rate around this new industry, transforming into a major production centre.
Although the city suffered a bit of post-boom angst, in the last decade Manchester has matured from a grungy, industrial teenager to an intelligent, cultured, and well-rounded adult who is fascinating to get to know. Manchester was the site of many firsts, including the first time scientists split the atom. It was also the birthplace of the first programmable computer, the location for the first meeting of the Trades Union Congress, the site of the world’s first railway station, and the world’s first industrialized city.
After the IRA bomb destroyed the urban core in 1996, a great deal of money was invested in the city’s regeneration and the downtown is now cutting edge and modern. Manchester is home to two of the largest universities in the UK, making it welcoming to young people and very cheap to eat and drink due to high competition between restaurants and bars.
Manchester is definitely one of the World’s Coolest Cities!
Climate: Temperate Maritime Climate – Warm summers, cold winters, regular precipitation throughout the year
Currency: British Pound Sterling
Rock and Roll Manchester!
Manchester truly rocks. Epic 1990s Brit rock bands such as Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and The Smiths all originated here. This city is tons of fun for a music fan!
If you miss the sounds of good old vinyl, have a look around the iconic Piccadilly Records store on Oldham Street. You might find a hidden treasure for your listening pleasure! Across from this shop is Dry Bar, where the Happy Mondays used to play. Night and Day Bar opposite has fantastic live music most nights.
If you are a big Smiths fan, you might want to recreate the photograph from the inside of their The Queen Is Dead album by posing in front of the Salford Lad’s Club on the corner of St. Ignatius Way and Coronation Street.
New Manchester Walks offers a number of music themed tours, including The Beatles, The Smiths, and Factory Records.
Manchester’s Sporty Side
Manchester was the location of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and is an important location for sports fans. Manchester has two Premier League football teams, Manchester City and Manchester United, which have become two of the biggest football clubs in England. Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, has become a huge tourist destination for football fans. Matches here are always very exciting and high energy events that draw large crowds.
Due for completion in Autumn 2011, the National Football Museum will soon be an amazing experience for lovers of “the beautiful game”. It is set to be the biggest and best football museum in the world, with plenty of great memories, priceless items, and hands on, interactive exhibits.
A Hip Hangout for Art Lovers
There are more than 50 free museums and art galleries within Manchester, so any art enthusiast can spend days here without even scratching the surface. The Manchester Art Gallery covers over six centuries, from the antique to the avant-garde. Check out the impressive collection of 19th century British paintings!
A must-see for any artsy type is Cornerhouse, Manchester’s international centre for contemporary visual arts and film. Right in the heart of the city, this funky three story centre contains contemporary art galleries, three cinema screens that show independent films, a bar, cafe and bookstore.
The Whitworth Gallery at the University of Manchester and the Lowry also have great quality exhibitions that are worth going to see.
Absolutely Fabulous Fashion
Manchester is one of the shopping capitals of the UK, and you can indulge yourself in some superb retail therapy here. Head to the Manchester Arndale, the largest inner-city shopping centre in Britain and peruse everything from Billabong and Guess to River Island, Dorothy Perkins, and Lacoste. The Trafford Centre also offers some excellent shopping opportunities as well as a cinema and opportunities for skydiving, indoor skiing, and golf.
If you are more into the alternative and bohemian style than the mall fashion, you will love the Northern Quarter just off Piccadilly Gardens and centred around Oldham Street. This area of town is famous for its funky bars and cafes and its groovy music and clothing stores. Check out Affleck’s Palace, an old department store that has been transformed into a multi-storey marketplace for alternative clothing and other odd finds. The whole neighbourhood has a fun, offbeat vibe and you are sure to find something unique here.
If you want to take a trip back in time and learn more about the styles that people used to wear, check out the displays at the Gallery of Costume. This museum holds one of the largest collections of clothing and fashion accessories in Britain. See the clogs and shawls of Lancashire weavers, the colourful clothing of Manchester’s South Asian communities, and striking designer outfits from through the decades.
Enjoy the View
In the centre of the city, the Millennium Quarter is the area that was refurbished after the 1996 IRA bombing. It now features the Manchester Wheel, giving you the chance to check out this awesome city from 60 metres up in the air! If you want to make your night extra special, book the VIP capsule that comes with a bottle of champagne.
Another way to see an impressive view of Manchester is to sip drinks at the luxurious Cloud 23 cocktail bar, on the 23rd floor of the Hilton Hotel while enjoying the panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows!
Go and Explore Manchester for Yourself
There are way too many cool things about Manchester to list, and this article has only begun to name a few. Why not take a trip to Manchester yourself and discover what the city has to offer you? You’ll soon discover your own favourite places and come up with your own reasons why Manchester is one of the World’s Coolest Cities.