The Manchester playground is down on the pavement. Tap into the buzz and the beat of dozens of bars, bistros, restaurants, pubs, clubs and cocktail joints. You don’t even need a cab. Buck the trend for starters and go with Euro-friendly Albert’s Schloss for Bavarian bier beneath the Albert Hall.
Try some cocktail chemistry at The Alchemist. Infuse your veins with a Ramos Ginger Fizz or a Melbuccino. Make with more mixology at Tusk, where drinks come with a tribal feel and zebra heads and antlers adorn the walls. At Kosmonaut, with its exposed brickwork and old-style barber chairs, cocktails are achingly cool.
Elsewhere, Home is a new venture with movie screens and 500-seat theatre. See a show at the Palace or a gig at the Bridgewater Hall. Catch the biennial Manchester International Festival for cutting-edge art and performers from 15 countries, or dip into one of the world’s leading music scenes.
Clubs here come up trumps every time. For elegance and class, try The Milton Club, or make your own South Seas escape at Polynesian-themed Lola Lo on Deansgate. For leading DJs and cutting-edge cool look no further than The Warehouse Project, or try Gorilla for industrial chic beneath the railway arches.
The Lowry Outlet Village is swimming in big labels. If that’s not enough retail for you, try the intu Trafford Centre, Exchange Square and Market Street. Or sample some classic English style at John Lewis, Selfridges, Debenhams and Marks and Spencer. Hang around at The Lowry for exciting exhibitions and top-class theatre.
A day’s skiing and snowboarding at Chill Factore is cooler than a polar bear’s pyjamas. For outdoor action, walk the wild and windy moors or take to the treetops at Aerial Extreme or Go Ape Rivington. Keep your pulse rate up with a bounceathon on the trampolines at Oxygen Freejumping.
Take a Manchester United Tour at Old Trafford or a behind-the-scenes peek at MediaCityUK, host venue of Match of The Day and Dragons’ Den. Or catch a festival in a city more festive than a hundred Spanish villages – drop in on celebrations devoted to science, beer and cider, literature, folk music and much more.
Vulture some culture at the Manchester Museum, home of 16,000 Egyptian artefacts, take a tour of the cathedral, see one of the country’s finest art collections at the Manchester Gallery, or go underground at the Stockport Air-Raid Shelters. Or find Fig and Sparrow, a coffee café designed as beautifully as the latte art.