Kicking off our Around the World in 80 Days feature, what better place to start than the home of the world's most famous footy team. But the city of Manchester has so much more to offer than Saturdays and Sundays spent at Old Trafford or the City of Manchester stadium which your TG (tour guide) will point out. It has a great nightlife, can offer entertainment for most and will soon be home to the BBC as they make their move north.
Tour Guide - Coral Grainger
Coral Grainger is an expert in city innovation strategies, and loves delivering projects where people, places and technology connect.
With a background in urban development, networks and knowledge, Coral’s company Capital Relations catalyses projects and makes exciting things happen.
Get in touch with Coral via twitter, facebook or Linkedin.
#1 Cloud23 at the Hilton Manchester http://www.cloud23bar.com/
Kick off your Manchester experience by taking the express lift to the Hilton’s 23rd floor for a drink with a view. Indulge in afternoon tea, or plan your shopping trip over a Mancunian cocktail while you watch the city move from day to night through the floor to ceiling windows. Occasionally, I’ve found the bar service here slow, so don’t waste time standing when you can be watching the sunset - find yourself a window seat, relax and wait for the table service. There’s a live music and a door charge on Thursday & Friday evenings, otherwise free entry.
If you’re arriving after 7pm, sign up for the guest list in advance.
#2 Spinningfields http://www.spinningfieldsonline.com/
From the Hilton, it’s a 5 minute walk along Deansgate to reach the historic John Rylands Library. The library, part of Manchester University, has carefully managed access arrangements due to the value and fragility of the artifacts, including an early edition of the King James Bible - 400 years old in 2011. So visit the website or the cafe to find out what tours and exhibitions are available to the public.
Behind John Rylands Library is the shiny new Spinningfields development, with luxury retail on The Avenue, and family friendly dining including Carluccios and Giraffe. In summer, take a picnic to watch a classic film on the lawn at Screenfields, or get on your ice skates on in the winter. End the night in the late lounge of Australasia.
Go to the Spinningfields community site for special events and offers.
#3 Edge Street in The Northern Quarter
For a totally different vibe, swap Spinningfields’ steel and glass for the narrow streets of the Northern Quarter: the hub of Manchester’s independent creative scene. Start exploring the patch in Edge Street. At one end is the Manchester Craft and Design Centre where you can shop for unique jewelry, handbags or canvasses, all crafted by resident artists. Whichever way you turn from the doors of MCDC you’ll stumble upon a Northern Quarter pub, bar or a coffee shop where the the hipsters meet and the freelancers sip flat whites hunched over their MacBooks.
Further along this little street you might find the fabulous geeks and hackers from the Manchester Digital Lab in a place called Common, a stalwart of the NQ scene offering food, DJs, exhibitions & quiz nights. For a ‘proper dinner’ on Edge Street get a delicious Prix Fixe deal at The Northern Quarter (TNQ) restaurant or cross the cobbles to Sweet Mandarin, voted the UK’s best local Chinese Restaurants on Ramsey’s F Word. If you’re on twitter, let Lisa know you’re coming!
#4 Manchester Art Gallery
When I’m working in town, I make a bee-line for the city’s art gallery, where you’ll find me making use of the free wifi and power sockets in the cafe to catch up emails between meetings. It’s the best office in the land! I can enjoy a perfect pot of Earl Grey and nip upstairs for artistic inspiration when the words won’t come. When I’m advising on society and networks, Grayson Perry’s Print for a Politician can be relied on to help me develop new ideas and perspective.
Often I’ll be back there at the weekend with my daughter, as there are excellent installations and activities for children, and little ones will enjoy the Clore Interactive Gallery time time and again.
#5 The Deaf Institute
After the calm of the Gallery, ramp the energy back up with DJs, live music and good times at The Deaf Institute. On the Oxford Road corridor, nestled between two University campuses, The Deaf Institute is a great place to hang out at any time whether you’re reading the papers over brunch, fueling up on a roast dinner or dancing til the early hours.
It’s a venue that’s wired for our digital age. Gone are the days of bootleg DJ mix tapes - experience the sound of the Deaf Institute by making friends on LastFm or checking out bands on their YouTube channel. Think you can do better than the DJ? Share your tracks via Spotify, and they might be played in the bar on Friday night - there’s a sambuca reward for the best songs! Head down, hang out and have fun!