If Liverpool life is becoming a bore don’t fret, because relief could be at hand just 30 miles down the M62 in Manchester.
Often regarded as England’s unofficial second city and the capital of the North, Manchester’s swirling metropolis has been one of the country’s frontrunners in everything from sport to music and popular culture for the last 40 years. Words that could, perhaps, only be written by a Mancunian… but true, nonetheless.
Scousers please note: I have just spent three years studying in Liverpool and I've loved it, truly. I'll even concede defeat on the skyline 'issue'. Yes, OK... Manchester hasn't got one. I'll go as far as writing a few hundred words about European nights at Anfield being awesome... and mean it all. But you've got to stand up for your home town, haven't you? Give Peace a Chance, eh?
Just like Liverpool, Manchester's history has landscaped the present day.
Once the epicentre of Britain’s industrial revolution, evidence of which can still be found in the former cotton mills now reincarnated as luxury urban apartments, the city was the subject of mass regeneration following the destruction caused by the IRA bombing in the mid-nineties. Since then, much of the city centre has been completely revamped, giving an almost unique sense of modernity which is likely to last only until the next architectural uprising.
Undoubtedly, a big draw for many tourists is Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United Football Club. Despite United’s continued fame and success, however, the little known truth is that Old Trafford actually sits within the boundaries of the City of Salford and isn’t even in Manchester. For ‘alternative’ see: Manchester City FC.
The Happening City, as it was nauseatingly re-branded at the turn of the century, is also world famous for its proud musical heritage. True, Manchester never had The Beatles, but it did have The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Oasis and many other lesser known but equally influential artists call the place ‘home’. Still awash with musical talent and enthusiasm, many of the world’s biggest acts stop off in Manchester to perform at one of the city’s music venues. At the other end of the scale, the sublime Bridgewater Hall’s raison d'être was to provide Manchester with a suitably modern classical music venue and houses the Hallé Orchestra.
Another big attraction for out-of-towners is Manchester’s shopping experience, largely due to the giant shopping mall known as The Trafford Centre (which isn’t actually in Manchester either). You wouldn’t know that the nation is currently steeped in the gloom of a recession because a visit to the city centre on most days reveals the same overwhelming throngs of happy shoppers as ever. Maybe they’re just window shopping, but the likes of the Arndale Centre (once described, before the revamp, by writer Bill Bryson as “the world’s biggest public toilet”) and the Triangle along with the more specialist outlets in the Oldham Street area (the subject of another vomit-inducing re-brand: the Northern Quarter) provide more than enough to satisfy your consumer needs.
And where would any big city be without a formidable night life? Nowhere, that’s where, and Manchester effortlessly comes up trumps in that category.
Thanks in part to the meteoric rise to fame of The Haçienda in the 1980’s, the city has long had a reputation for a great night out whatever you’re into and every weekend sees thousands of eager night-hawks descend on the city centre for a good old fashioned knees up. A wide range of pubs, bars and clubs cater for all tastes with The Printworks complex a popular haunt for many.
That isn't all there is to Manchester, but to list everything here would take forever. Like any big city, the best tactic is to explore the place for yourself. Hardened Liverpudlians may find it difficult to comes to term with, but at the other end of the East Lancs Road lies a true gem. Mad for it!
By Dan Burke, Website Editor
More Travel features from JMU
The city centre has been transformed in the past decade and the Visit Manchester clip shows how