I may be a little biased having been brought up in the north west of England, but there is no better way to get into the festive spirit than to visit Manchester during the Christmas season. Throughout December many of the city’s streets and squares are bustling with festive activity. Attractive Christmas market stalls adorned with fairy lights tempt us with delicious food offerings, mulled wine, gifts and much more and we even have the choice of two outdoor ice rinks for skating and curling.
Presiding over the Christmas market is Manchester Town Hall, a Victorian neo Gothic masterpiece. The ground floor is open to the public where you will find a very pleasant cafe to sit and relax whilst admiring the beautiful architecture. Stepping outside, the city centre has all the high street stores and independent retailers you could wish for, it’s a shoppers paradise laid out along attractive avenues and, should it rain, one can continue shopping in the huge Arndale Mall located nearby.
But if shopping isn’t for you, don’t despair as nearby on Deansgate you will find the The John Rylands Library, part of the University of Manchester and one of the most spectacular libraries in the world.
The historic entrance hall and main staircase lead up to the reading room which is one of the finest reading rooms of any library. Statues of Mr & Mrs Rylands grace each end of the huge cathedral like space whilst stained glass windows celebrate the achievements of individuals from the world of arts and science. Entrànce is free and the library is open from 10.00 to 5.00 pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 12 noon on Sunday and Monday. In 2012 it was voted Lancashire’s tourist attraction of the year and it’s certainly worthy of a visit. Around the corner from here lies Spinningfields, a gleaming development of ultra modern office blocks.
Spinningfields is also home to numerous restaurants and high end retailers including Emporio Armani. This central business district, reaching down to the River Irwell is Manchester’s answer to London’s Canary Wharf and it doesn’t disappoint.
The huge Museum of Science and Industry showcases the city’s achievements and includes sections on aircraft, locomotives, textiles and technology. We just love calling in to view one of the exhibitions when we have some time, entrànce is free of charge.
Finally, for any football aficionado, a visit to the National Football Museum is an absolute must. As Manchester is home to arguably two of the world’s best teams it seemed appropriate to locate the museum here and it has been welcoming visitors since 2001. I’m personally not a fan of football but was encouraged to visit by my husband and two sons and, to my surprise, I actually found the exhibits interesting and enjoyed my visit. Entrànce to the museum is free (donations welcome).
Outside, on the Cathedral lawns, there is currently more of the attractive Christmas market complete with a traditional carousel ‘merry go round’ ride.
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