When to fly to Manchester?
The summer months from June to September are the most popular time to fly to Manchester, as this is when weather is most favourable and most festivals and other outdoor events take place.
The Great Manchester Run takes place in May and the city fills with running enthusiasts and their supporters as well as sponsors and camera crews. Beware that it is a very busy time and flights as well as accommodation prices are likely to rise so if you’re planning to visit during the event, make sure that you book them well in advance to get the best deals.
The colder and wetter months of winter are Manchester’s least busy in terms of tourism, which is reflected in cheap flight deals and accommodation prices and availability. Early autumn and late spring are good off peak periods to visit, as the weather is relatively pleasant and peak season crowds have either yet to arrive or have already left. This also tends to be the cheapest time to book your flights.
Manchester Literature Festival takes place annually in October and allows audiences to experience high quality live literature from internationally renowned authors and exclusive performances which have been specially commissioned.
Why visit Manchester?
If you want to visit one of the UK’s most vibrant and lively cities, then Manchester should be at the top of your agenda. Not only is it home to some of the most famous football clubs in the world, but you’ll find plenty to see and do including art, history, music, universities, nightclubs and festivals.
Once a manorial township, Manchester’s booming textile manufacturing industry during the Industrial Revolution saw it transforming into one of England’s major urban centres, reflected in nicknames such as “Cottonopolis” and “Warehouse City”. After the prosperity brought by the cotton mills, Manchester established itself as the financial centre of the region and has remained one of Northern England’s most thriving cities.
There are plenty of sights around the city centre. The Royal Exchange has some of the top theatres in the country and the City Art Gallery. Spinningfields is a modern and upmarket area which features designer boutiques and classy restaurants, while the nearby Manchester Arndale shopping centre is also great for shopaholics. Castlefield, on the other hand, has hip bars and picturesque canals.
Sports fans flying to Manchester have a lot to choose from. Sportcity, just two miles east from the centre, contains the biggest concentration of sporting venues in Europe, including the Regional Arena, Manchester City’s football stadium and a velodrome. On the other side of town to the west, Trafford is home to Manchester United’s stadium and Lancashire County Cricket Club.
Greater Manchester is home to more students than anywhere else in Europe, so unsurprisingly there is a large and exciting nightlife. Canal Street is renowned for its buzzing atmosphere and gay scene, while Fallowfield is busy with plenty of cheaper options. Food fans should head to Rusholme to visit the Curry Mile, a mile-long stretch packed with curry houses and other eateries.
Although rainfall may occur at any point during the year, the summer months of July and August are usually warmest and driest, and the winter months of December, January and February the coolest and wettest.
Getting around Manchester
Manchester’s city centre is compact enough to reach most of its attractions on foot without difficulty. However, the city has an excellent public transport system managed by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE), which includes buses, trams and trains.
The city centre is served by a free bus service called Metroshuttle which links major rail stations, car parks, shopping centres and businesses, and proves extremely useful for visitors and locals alike. You can get on these buses at transport terminals at Piccadilly, Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Central and Victoria among other places. Relatively cheap bus services in North and South Manchester are also available for those wishing to travel further out.
Manchester’s mass transit tram system is known as Metrolink and covers much of the metropolitan area, including Harbour City, Victoria, Market Street, Piccadilly, Old Trafford and St Peter’s Square.
The Greater Manchester rail network offers services from Manchester Airport (MAN) to the city centre as well as between locations within the city and from the city to other parts of the country.
Manchester insider information
- Castlefield, in West Central Manchester, is the site of Roman fort Mamucium from which the city takes its modern day name. The fort’s remains are preserved as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and certain reconstructed buildings such as the gatehouse and granaries are open to the public.
- Old Trafford Stadium offers guided tours of the home ground of the world’s most supported and well-known football team. You’ll get to stand in manager’s spot in the dugout, visit the trophy room and admire the team’s achievements, and even see the changing rooms where countless players have readied themselves for big matches. A selection of tour packages is offered, from single child and adult tickets to family tours.
- The John Rylands Library is housed in a sumptuously beautiful Victorian Gothic building on main thoroughfare Deansgate. Founded at the turn of the 19th century in memory of local entrepreneur John Rylands, the library’s collection includes early examples of European printing such as the Gutenberg Bible and medieval illuminated manuscripts, as well as the papers of celebrated locals such as John Dalton and Elizabeth Gaskell.
- Manchester Art Gallery, housed in a Grade I listed building in the city centre, houses Manchester’s civic art collection and includes the nation’s most important collection of pre-Raphaelite art as well as a permanent collection of some of the foremost British art of the 20th century, with works by Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, and David Hockney among others.
- Chinatown in East Central Manchester and the Rusholme Curry Mile should be visited for a taste of multicultural Manchester. In these two locations, east and south Asian shops and restaurants can be found in abundance and visitors can gain an insight into the city’s ever-changing cultural melting pot.