Fancy seeing a T-Rex, catching the next big thing in music or browsing an eclectic array of shops? Then head to Manchester for the weekend
Explore the wonders of Manchester’s museums
Whether you’re more interested in art, history or the natural world, Manchester is awash with fantastic museums. Dinosaurs, frogs and the Egyptians are all on display at the Manchester Museum. Inside, you can meet Stan the T-Rex (one of the most complete tyrannosaurus skeletons ever found), get up close with some of the rarest amphibians and reptiles on the planet, and discover one of the UK’s biggest collections of Egyptian artefacts. Take a trip back in time at the Museum of Science and Industry, and learn all about Manchester’s industrial past. You can also test your reactions against the speed of light and watch your skeleton ride a bike at one of the hands-on exhibits at the Experiment! interactive gallery.
Art-lovers should head to the award-winning Whitworth Art Gallery. Named the 2015 Museum of the Year by the Art Fund, the gallery boasts an incredible, varied collection of historic and contemporary art, from JMW Turner to Renoir and Barbara Hepworth. Meanwhile, the fascinating People’s History Museum traces the story of democracy in Manchester, with exhibits on the 1819 Peterloo Massacre and the rise of the trades unions and Suffragettes. Other museums in the city worth a visit include the Imperial War Museum North and the Manchester Art Gallery.
See the city’s iconic sights
The centre of Manchester is filled with impressive architectural gems, with one of the most striking examples being the John Rylands Library. This was commissioned by the widow of Manchester’s first multi-millionaire and opened to the public in 1900. It’s worth taking the time on your days out in the city to go inside and admire this spectacular neo-Gothic Victorian building.
Love football? Go behind the scenes of two of the beautiful game’s most iconic venues – with a tour of Manchester United’s Old Trafford, or Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. Both stadia offer tours allowing visitors to take a peek inside their team’s dressing room and then experience the thrill of walking down the players’ tunnel. If that doesn’t sate your football appetite, head to the National Football Museum. Here, you can test your reactions in a penalty shoot-out or even try your hand at commentating.
Shop until you drop
Manchester is a shopper’s paradise – home to everything from mega shopping centres to high-street favourites and quirky boutiques. Department stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols are among the big names to be found in the city’s central shopping hub, around Exchange Square and Market Street. The Arndale Centre houses high-street brands such as TopShop and Next, and for high-end designer brands, head to The Avenue in Spinningfields, where you’ll find labels including Armani and Mulberry.
Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter is packed with all manner of one-off shops, including local favourite Afflecks – an eclectic emporium of fancy-dress and second-hand clothing – and the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, where artists and designers display and sell their wares. Music-lovers will enjoy rummaging through independent record stores Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange and Eastern Bloc Records. But if you’re looking for a shopping behemoth that has all your favourite high-street staples under one roof, visit the Trafford Centre, five miles west of the centre. It’s a gigantic, gaudy affair complete with glitzy palm trees and faux classical statues.
Take a trip around the gastronomic world
Whether you’re in the mood for Indian, Mexican, Greek, Oriental, Lebanese or modern British, you’ll be spoilt for choice by the restaurants in Manchester. The city has one of the most exciting food scenes in the country, with new places to eat popping up all the time. You can head Down Under to the Australasia Restaurant for modern Aussie cuisine, or try Albert’s Shed for modern British. Malaysian restaurant Ning, in the Northern Quarter, is popular with locals, as is gourmet pizza chain Croma, while Tattu offers a fresh take on Chinese cooking. If you’re looking for somewhere extra-special, Manchester has a number of fine dining restaurants, including the swanky ABode restaurant and Simon Rogan’s The French at The Midland Hotel. For a quick bite during the day, try The Koffee Shop or tea specialist Teacup Kitchen, both in the Northern Quarter.
Enjoy a night of music, comedy or theatre
There are plenty of fun things to do out in Manchester after dark, from soaking up some culture at the theatre to taking in the next big thing in music. The city is home to numerous theatres staging everything from plays and musicals to ballet and opera; popular venues include the Lyric Theatre at The Lowry theatre and gallery complex, the Opera House Manchester and the Palace Theatre.
Manchester has a long association with music, with the likes of The Stone Roses, The Smiths and Oasis all hailing from the city, so it’s no surprise it’s packed with places to enjoy live bands. The Rolling Stones and Dolly Parton are some of the musical superstars to have played at the Manchester Arena, while the O2 Apollo has featured acts including Motörhead and Jess Glynne in recent years. The Albert Hall, Band on the Wall and Gorilla are great for more eclectic artists. Like comedy? Head to The Frog & Bucket. Its amateur comedy night, Beat the Frog, takes place every Monday and welcomed the likes of John Bishop, Sarah Millican and Peter Kay before they were famous.
Why not take a look at our hotels in Manchester and indulge in everything this city has to offer.