Hometown Holiday: Manchester

A picture of a neon sign reading "We love you Manchester".
Grace Carty

Through an untrained eye, Manchester’s slightly murky canals and rain-filled clouds may make it appear as your average city in the north-west of England. However, Grace Carty can lead us, with fresh eyes, through this famous city on her “Hometown Holiday”.

Manchester. Characterised by its football and an extraordinary musical history, it is the greatest place in the world…though I would say that. From the beginning of the suffragette movement in the 20th century, Manchester has had spirit sparking through its streets. 

As the ‘Madchester’ music scene grew in the late 80’s, the city began its ascent to legendary musical status. Nowadays, the city is home to bands such as The Courteeners and The 1975.

Manchester’s industrial districts have also been depicted in L.S. Lowry’s paintings, whilst a large majority of the UK’s television is filmed on the sunny shores of Salford Quays in MediaCity. 

Your weekend in Manchester cannot be all play without a little bit of education

By spending a weekend in Manchester you will not have even touched the sides of what it has to offer, but you can read on to find a good place to start.

During the Day 

Your weekend in Manchester cannot be all play without a little bit of education. The Museum of Science and Industry offers various free exhibitions which cater for everyone. I have loved visiting from a young age and I still enjoy it now; I most recently took a trip with my dad. Currently they have an exhibition named Turn It Up: The power of music which would definitely be worth a wander around. 

If you are interested in sport, you could be more suited to the National Football Museum. Its trophy cabinet displays may be its selling point to most, however the building itself (and the lift up to the top) is worth a look at even if the football side does not take your fancy. 

Skip spending lots of time on the high street and instead wander into the Northern Quarter

To get a bit of fresh air, take a walk across the newly renovated Castlefield Viaduct. Modelled upon New York’s High Line, this elevated green space gives you the opportunity to see the city from a new angle. If you have some time to make your way out of the city centre, jump on the tram and go to Heaton Park. Not only does it provide an excellent music venue but also a little bit of hush away from the big city noise. 

Surely you would have to spend a little bit of time in the shops next? Skip spending lots of time on the high street and instead wander into the Northern Quarter. Afflecks Palace is famously home to many weird and wonderful stalls, ranging from vintage clothes shops to tattoo parlours. Not too far away from here is Fred Aldous, a great shop for my fellow stationery lovers. 

Getting Hungry? 

After all that shopping, you would surely be getting hungry. A great place to try as a group would be Mackie Mayor. Situated in the building of a former market, the long tables make it a great social space, offering a vast range of food from tacos to fresh fish. 

Chinatown’s grand archway marks the entrance into a fabulous place for food and culture. With the opportunity to visit the supermarkets during the day, the restaurants in the evening or a buffet late at night, it is no wonder that the area has grown into the second biggest Chinatown in the UK. 

Meanwhile, I could not choose between my two favourite pizza places, so rather than depriving you of either, I will list both. Firstly, Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza makes the flight to Naples rather unnecessary. Simply take a walk to Ancoats instead, which is much better for your wallet and the planet. Rudy’s keep it simple but have most definitely mastered their craft. An alternative would be Crazy Pedro’s Pizza Parlour. Whilst their bottomless pizza and frozen margarita brunch is the main attraction for me, Pedro’s also provides an option to buy pizza by the slice. This is a great system to ensure that you keep the food to drink ratio well balanced. 

No early nights allowed!  

I usually am a great advocate for an early night – but save those for the boring cities! When you are only visiting Manchester for a few days, you cannot be wasting any time.

It is more important than ever to support independent venues and make a visit

To try some unique cocktails, head over to The Washhouse. Hidden inside a launderette, this bar will not disappoint. The amazing service from the knowledgeable staff guarantees a great night, with absolutely no VK’s in sight. Make sure to keep a little bit of your budget earmarked for this one as the cocktails don’t come too cheap. However, it is definitely worth the visit for a drink or two. 

As you are already near the Northern Quarter, it would make sense to take a trip to Night and Day Café. You may walk past it unknowingly during the daytime, but at night it comes alive with artists on the rise. The iconic venue, which has previously featured performances from Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys, has recently faced closure threats. Therefore, it is more important than ever to support independent venues and make a visit. 

This is Manchester. We do things differently here.

To stay in the indie mood, you could spend the rest of your night in 42’s. I make no assertions that this smells of anything other than sweaty eighteen year olds, however, the neon tunnel onto the dancefloor is famous on the Instagram grids of Manchester’s youth. If you enjoy classic indie music, this club is almost a Mancunian rite of passage. 

If you prefer dance music, a night out at the Warehouse Project could be perfect for you. Their events could be described as a kind of continuation of the Haçienda days (an iconic club in Manchester’s bygone era), as world-class DJ’s travel to Mayfield Depot to host events every autumn and winter. It is vital to book these events in advance as popular nights sell out very quickly. 

Come back soon…

It’s important to note that I am not the only person to speak so highly of Manchester. Most Mancunians you meet will speak just as fondly of their home and how they feel drawn back to the city. And who can blame them? As Tony Wilson put it so well, “This is Manchester. We do things differently here.”

Grace Carty

Featured image courtesy of Surya Prasad via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of Ash via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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