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Things to do in Manchester this autumn

Our guide to enjoying this gem of the North West

Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

As one of the UK’s most vibrant and alive cities, Manchester is an excellent destination no longer overlooked by visitors to the UK. A huge city, part of the Greater Manchester Urban area with a population of 2.2 million, Manchester spreads across from the Pennines in the north and east, with the Cheshire Plains to the south.

It is a city famed for its football, its music, its nightlife and its open, down-to-earth people, who pride themselves on where they come from and their great distinctive qualities which set them apart from the more brusque and stand-offish Londoners down south.

As a major city during the Olympics - playing host to much of the football, as well as huge events as part of the Cultural Olympiad - October, November and December also hold much promise for visitors to the Greater Manchester Urban Area.

Sports fans will no doubt already hold a candle up to the city, home to two of the world’s most lauded football teams, Manchester City and Manchester United. And now, the city is also host to the National Football Museum, inaugurated in July 2012.

If you are heading up for a game, this place is a must see: with a massive archive of over 140,000 items, plus over 2,500 on display in the museum proper, it’s a footie fans dream. Artworks, old club strips, photos, films and memorabilia documenting the history of the game in the UK, make this one of the city’s top new destinations for visitors.

Manchester has a reputation for plenty of other delights alongside football. Long celebrated as a foodie capital, with excellent chefs in both the city and the surrounding plush areas of Cheshire, Manchester prides itself on its local produce and honest cooking.

With this firmly in mind, the end of September and beginning of October see the annual Manchester Food and Drink Festival take over much of the city centre. With numerous stalls, demonstrations and workshops, it’s a great way to get to know foodie culture in the city.

But that said, there are plenty of other ways to get a taste of Manchester’s passion for food outside of the festival period - from a pilgrimage down Curry Mile in Rusholme, to a taste of rural splendour with the Manchester area’s best pubs and inns.

A day trip outside the city should be crowned by a visit to The White Hart in Saddleworth, a grade II listed inn which also offers accommodation and extensive opportunities for group dining and larger events. Local potted shrimp and lamb, as well as Gressingham duck, beg to be tried. For greedy - or just plain hungry types (hey, maybe you’ve been for a big hike in the Pennines) - there is a 7-course tasted menu coming in at a very reasonable £40 per head. This is sure to send you home happy and extremely well fed.


Parc Guell

Barcelona

Second city of Spain and major Mediterranean port, bustling Barcelona incorporates a delightful historic mix of Roman remains, medieval quarters and 20th century avant-garde art. See:
Barcelona - Capital City of Catalunya,
Barcelona - Las Ramblas,
Barcelona - Sagrada Familia,
Barcelona - Parc Guell.


The Parthenon, Athens

Athens

Capital of Greece, this is a great destination for the visitor. Tourist Athens includes the ruins of classical Greece, after all the image of Athens - home to the Parthenon is iconic For lovers of Greek cuisine there is a great choice of basic tavernas and sophisticated restaurants. Museums and smart shopping make Athens an all-year destination.


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