Of all the cities in Europe, Manchester is the most progressive and, after London, the most important city in England. Socially, there is a motivational energy in Manchester that is a driving force socially and culturally. Manchester has embraced the realities of 21st century social change openly. This is so for two reasons. There are five universities and five colleges in Manchester, and the resulting youth dynamics this provides has considerable influence. Yet this influence is in complete harmony and magnifies the long tradition of Mancun’s propensity to challenge the status quo, to be the vanguard of social change, and to be proactive in civil liberties and civil rights. This has created an English city very different in tone, demeanor and appearance than what Americans can expect.
Due to extensive bombing during WWII, there was a considerable amount of reconstruction, and with Mancun’s penchant for innovation, rather than rebuilding old ones, they constructed buildings of contemporary design. So Manchester’s appearance is that of a dynamic city that is definitely quirky, but also modern and impressive.
This dynamism has been a magnet for young creative artists and musicians from across Britain, and this has created a very active cultural climate in the fine and performing arts. Manchester is home to the ‘musical revolution’ sparked by the Hallé Symphony Orchestra and progressive music groups such as The Stone Roses, Oasis, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, James and hundreds more. Manchester’s musical revolution was even dramatized in the 2002 film, “24 Hour Party People”, a 3½-star digital video depicting the punk era through to the Madchester era of the late 1980s. Manchester’s music scene is one source of local pride and represents the spirit of this great city.
With such a large and vibrant university student population in Manchester, that means plenty of university student life and nightlife. If you want to go out at night any night of the week, no problem. There is always a cheap club to enter without a dress code, pubs full with happy hours, lots of cheap food including ‘takeaway’ and places to meet girls, places to meet boys, places to meet girls and boys. , whatever you want.
First, head to the section of the city called Studentville. It is the Oxford Road area and is full of pubs, less demanding bars with the style of dress and is active most of the time.
The North Quarter It is in Manchester city center between Shudehill and Victoria Station. This is an unconventional bohemian alternative lifestyle area with many cafes, pubs, bars, music shops, art galleries, clothing boutiques and emporiums. In the Barrio Norte you can find all kinds of strange, charming and wonderful things. Pubs and bars are mainly found on the High Street and Oldham Street. There is also a bazaar at Affleck’s Palace, which used to be a department store. Some cafes are transformed into nightlife with various music venues.
The gay town it is a unique hub for the large and flourishing gay community. The Gay Village is located in the Canal Street and Chorlton Street area and includes Sackville, Whitworth and Princess streets. Across the canal is Sackville Gardens and Manchester College. Canal Street is a pedestrianized street lined with gay bars and restaurants.
Manchester Pride is an annual 10-day LGBT event that takes place between mid-to-late August. It includes a Pride Fringe festival, movie screenings, a colorful parade that goes through the city and ends in the Gay Village, and a weekend celebration called ‘The Big Weekend’. This is a ticketed three-day outdoor entertainment program at the Gay Village during the August holiday weekend. It all ends with a candlelight vigil at Sackville Gardens.
Free things to do
Here is a partial list of free activities to do in Manchester.
- The John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester at 150 Deansgate, south of Bridge Street, it is unusual and beautiful on the inside. It is a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic (or Neo-Gothic) architecture. There is a collection in the library of magnificent medieval manuscripts.
- Museum of science and industry o MOSI, on Liverpool Road, aims to make science and industry inspiring and enjoyable. Well that depends on where you are in this huge museum. However, there are trains that you can actually ride on, a planetarium and a 4D cinema (you pay for a fairly old short film, around £ 5.50, which is generally considered fair). The aircraft display is near the end of the entire display area and since the venue is really large, please don’t wear out too early because the planes are quite cold. Just go quickly through the boring storyboard displays. Some people are raving about this place. I don’t know why, but the planes, the planetarium, and the trains definitely are. There is a decent restaurant and cafe in the museum.
- Heaton Park, four miles north of the city center in Prestwich, offers huge green meadows with good views of Manchester, rowboats on the lake, forest walking trails, bike lanes too, a beautiful quirky century mansion XVIII, Smithy Lodge, open to the public with period furniture, and a farm with farm animals and beekeeping to see.
- Whitworth Art Gallery on Oxford Road next to Whitworth Park at the University of Manchester is especially known for its collection of British watercolors and modern and historical prints. Of course there are also drawings, paintings and sculptures. There is a program of summer events to watch.
- City airport and helipadThe Art Deco control tower is open to the public, it’s free, and you can watch planes and helicopters landing and taking off. The city’s airport is on Liverpool Road in Eccles and should not be confused with Manchester International Airport on the other side of the city.
Other places to visit include the Manchester Art Gallery, The Lowry, the National Football Museum, the Peoples History Museum, the Manchester Museum and Manchester Cathedral.
As in the rest of England, there is a list of local festivals and events in Manchester that occur during the warm months. These include things like the Manchester Picnic, various exhibits and “thought-provoking experiences” at Tatton Park, the movie Float-In, Harry Potter Day, and the Canal Festival. Check with your local tourist office for details on the festivals that occur during your visit.