‘Manchester's got everything except a beach.’
Ian Brown, former lead singer of The Stone Roses
Just your own two feet should be enough to get you around in Manchester – most of the city centre attractions and shops are easily reachable by walking. If you’re planning to come home laden with shopping bags, though, or heading a little further out (or it’s late at night and you’re feeling a little wobbly), there are plenty of taxis around to grab.
There are two bus services in Manchester. Generally, tickets can’t be exchanged between the two, unless you buy a £4.90 combination day ticket, allowing you access to both buses. Otherwise, tickets are paid for by the journey, day tickets are £3.50 or £4.10 depending on the company, and they do give change so don’t worry if you don’t have the exact amount.
Free! And it runs routes covering places like Deansgate, King Street, Quay Street and Castlefield!
The Manchester Arena – currently calling itself the Phones4U Arena, but ignore that – everyone else does. It’s one of the biggest venues around, and pulls in the biggest names. Coming up, they’ve got the Strictly Come Dancing Tour and X Factor Live, as well as music from Beyonce, Michael Bublé, the Wanted, Justin Timberlake, and Katy Perry, as well as comedy from Russell Howard, Jack Whitehall, and Miranda Hart.
The Lowry – it does a bit by way of music and theatre, but really it’s all about the comedy here – in the near future, there’s the opportunity to laugh yourselves silly at Russell Kane, Shappi Khorsandi, Sean Walsh, Jon Richardson, Ross Noble, and Jack Whitehall, again (he gets around).
The Apollo – the Apollo sees its share of comedians (Russell Brand, Lee Mack, Sarah Millican and Jimmy Carr, to name a few), but the music is how it’s made its name, and that proud tradition continues with headline acts like Rizzle Kicks, Bastille, Jason Derulo, Conor Maynard, Tinie Tempah, and Professor Green filling the stadium soon.
Manchester is a hugely multicultural and diverse city, but if you fancy chowing down on a foreign cuisine, you can forget about Italian or French – it’s all about the takeaways. Curry Mile is exactly how it sounds; a mile long road of Bangladeshi and Pakistani Indian restaurants, takeaways, and shisha cafes. There are far too many to pick out any highlights, so just see which one is busiest, and assume you can get some top quality grub inside. Chinatown rivals its London counterpart as the second largest in the UK. It’s big, it’s colourful, and it’s absolutely full of Chinese restaurants and shops.
Whatever your style, from designer to high street to quirky one off items, Manchester doesn’t just a have a shop to cater to you – it has a whole district:
The Northern Quarter – a Soho-esque area that specialises in individual, independent boutiques with a large number of vintage and handmade items.
The Arndale Centre – the UK’s largest inner-city shopping centre, with over 240 high street stores. It’s massive, and it carries pretty much every mainstream clothing store you can imagine, from All Saints right through to Zara.
The Avenue – this is where you go to shop for the high fashion labels – or, if you’re us, to window shop. You’ll find Mulberry, Emporio Armani, Brooks Brothers, and Zenga. If that doesn’t satisfy your lust for expensive clothing, Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood and DKNY also have stores around the city.
Chinese New Year – January/ February. The celebrations in Chinatown are spectacular.
Spinningfields – May, September. Outdoor film screenings, complete with deckchairs and picnics.
Manchester International Festival – June/July. It’s a huge celebration of the diversity and cultures within Manchester.
Manchester Food & Drink Festival – Early-mid October. It’s ten long days of food related fun. Keep your eyes peeled for free samples.
Women in Comedy Festival – October. Come and support your fellow funny ladies. Women like Ava Videl, Gina Yashere, Lucy Porter and Zoe Lyons took part last year, this year promises to be even bigger.