The second-largest metropolitan area in England, Manchester has a cosmopolitan feel and contemporary architecture and is loaded with top-notch theatres, museums and pubs. Manchester’s history is rich and hugely industrial. Once-thriving cloth factories from the late Victorian era have been successfully converted into chic apartment complexes surrounded by impressive shopping centers and nightclubs.
Manchester’s cultural life is also thriving, with 15 nationally recognized theatres, numerous movie theaters and scores of eateries that serve top-notch cooking. Music is the sleek, smooth underbelly of the “cool” side of town. Makers of music, aficionados and adoring fans flock to Manchester for its unrivaled music scene. And with more than 150 nightclubs, the city is a burgeoning center for up-and-coming singer/songwriters, bands and DJs.
Inhabitants of Manchester, or “Mancunians,” are known for their strong cultural traits, including their distinctive accent, passionate love of sports and “northern sense of humor.” Local residents play a huge part in creating a naturally friendly atmosphere: Strangers will readily say, “hi, love,” on the bus or offer directions to a confused traveler. Soccer (football) fans should hightail it to Manchester United’s home stadium, Old Taffard, which is open to the public. Old Tafford offers an intimate look into one of the top football clubs with fans spanning the globe.
Yet, there is a quieter side to Manchester, too, most notably made up of highly respected universities that serve as beautifully manicured gateways to the surrounding countryside. Once past the city confines, it is easy to see how Manchester is known as a region of contrast. The city’s rural surroundings are accented with ancient castles, picture-perfect lakes, mammoth cathedrals and quaint towns that quietly glow with dignified radiance of history and tradition. These rural retreats offer peace and fresh air mere miles from the bustling nightclubs that keep the heart of Manchester beating.