Cheap flights to Manchester
The most cosmopolitan city after London, Manchester is also one of Britain’s most modern cities, with a youthful and infectious vibe and cultural activities that are a class apart. If you’re looking for a true slice of Britain then look no further than Manchester, often described as England’s second city.
Known the world over for its famous football teams and for being the first industrialised city in the world, today Manchester is a hub of all things cool. Its modern city centre boasts some pretty cutting edge architecture, a cultural scene that is right up there with London and, of course, a nightlife that is renowned as one of the best in the world.
The Victorian Whitworth art gallery has been transformed using glass and reflective surfaces. It's the perfect setting for Cornelia Parker's deconstructed sculptures. Until 31 May (The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, M15 6ER, whitworth.manchester.ac.uk).
Make your way towards the ceiling of a converted Victorian church, aka Manchester Climbing Centre. Facilities include routes for novice through expert and there's a cafe and shop, too (St Benedict's Church, Bennett Street, M12 5ND, manchesterclimbingcentre.com).
Make like Tigger on 140 trampolines at Europe's largest indoor trampoline arena, Jump Nation. Evening sessions are aimed at adults (Textilose Road, Trafford Park, M17 1WA, jumpnation.com).
Love theatre? You're in Manchester at the right time. The last two weeks of the month see emerging arts venue Number 1 First Street host more than 20 productions of the city's finest new work. homemcr.org
Cow vintage emporium has moved to a new space in the Northern Quarter, where its retro supplies can shine. Jewellery and denim are good buys (61 Church Street, Northern Quarter, cowandco.co.uk/liverpool).
One Side to the Other is a multimedia art show at The Lowry arts centre, curated by dancer and choreographer Akram Khan. Look out for pieces by Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor. Until 1 February. thelowry.com
Author Elizabeth Gaskell's house has been transformed by a £2.5m renovation. Charlotte Bronte and Charles Darwin were guests at her "Downton"-era home and the tea rooms and gardens are a treat (84 Plymouth Grove, M13 9LW, elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk).
Wedding dresses offer an unexpected take on the past as "Something Blue" as the Gallery of Costume reveals. Parachute silk was the preferred material in the 1940s, while the 1990s enjoyed a bright palate (Platt Hall, M14 5LL, manchestergalleries.org).
Central St Ann's Square is packed with Christmas markets and gourmet treats at this time of year. The world-class Royal Exchange Theatre is worth a closer look, too. royalexchange.co.uk
If it's Saturday, head to Levenshulme Market for street food and vintage finds galore. Check out the Antiques Village (The Old Town Hall, 965 Stockport Road, Levenshulme, M19 3NP, theantiquesvillage.com) and Trove bakery (1032 Stockport Road,
Levenshulme, M19 3WX, trovefoods.co.uk) while in the area. A 20-minute hop from the city centre by bus or train. levymarket.com
Manchester's pop-up street-food slam, Up in Your Grill, takes over a former cotton mill every Friday with DJs and street food in tow (Brownsfield Mill, Tariff Street, M1 2FJ, upinyourgrill.co.uk).
Taking over the city's best venues, Manchester Jazz Festival (18-27 July) lands in Albert Square with free gigs on the hour. Booking is recommended for star turns like Arun Ghosh and his sextet and Booker T Jones. manchesterjazz.com
Walk among the bluebells and wild garlic of Hardcastle Crags. Take the train to Hebden Bridge and hike up to the forest park or, better yet, drive there in around 70 minutes (near Hebden Bridge, nationaltrust.org.uk/hardcastle-crags).
Explore world-class art by the likes of Andy Goldsworthy amid the forests and fields of Yorkshire Sculpture Park. There's also a cafe with stunning views. It's about an 80-minute drive from Manchester (West Bretton, Wakefield, WF4 4LG, ysp.co.uk).
Few places are as quintessentially English as the Bronte sisters' childhood home of Haworth in Yorkshire. Visit the house, explore the Bronte falls and enjoy afternoon tea. It's just over an hour's drive away. haworth-village.org.uk
Kirkby Lonsdale is one of the North West's prettiest market towns. Enjoy views of the River Lune painted by JMW Turner, Norman churches and lunch at the award-winning Highwayman Inn. highwaymaninn.co.uk
Dunham Massey is a Georgian house, deer park and formal gardens, a 20-minute drive from Manchester city centre. During World War I it doubled as a military hospital, which has been meticulously recreated for the centenary. Open Saturday-Wednesday. nationaltrust.org.uk
Named after contemporary sculptor Barbara Hepworth, the fabulous Hepworth is an hour by car or train away, in Wakefield. Shortlisted for a RIBA architecture prize, the changing exhibitions do justice to their setting. hepworthwakefield.org