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.
Manchester's ornate fire station, London Road, could have only been built in the Victorian era - and this previously abandoned landmark is the atmospheric location of an ice rink and indoor festival called The Winter Gathering. Enjoy food from stalls curated by the British Street Food Awards team, mulled wine, cocktails and a craft market featuring work by local makers. (Until 8 Jan 2017, http://elementalevents.com/thewintergathering/)
John Rylands Library's latest exhibition focuses on an under appreciated icon of Mancunian counterculture, Jeff Nuttall. Called Off Beat, the exhibition showcases the work and life of this key figure in underground publishing who wrote extensively about the connections between the cold war and the art of the period. Includes original work by William S. Burroughs. (Until March 2017, The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate)
The Whitworth Art Gallery reopened in 2015 after a dazzling, £12m transformation. Highlights include the textiles collection and a new exhibition by British artist, Idris Khan. Khan's work references religious ritual through densely layered paintings and photographs. The gift shop sells local ales as well as art books and designer homewares and there's a excellent cafe too. (Oxford Road, http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/)
Only 50 minutes from Manchester, the Peak District village of Edale is perfect for walks from the train station. Outings include the peaks of Mam Tor and Kinder Scout around the start of the Pennine Way. Pick up a map from the visitor centre and tuck in at the National Trust's Penny Pot cafe. http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/visitor-centres/edale
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