ESL tips - Don't miss out on what the city has to offer!
Asian cuisine on the curry mile
There is nowhere better to try Asian food than Manchester. Really! The Rusholme area is home to the largest concentration of Asian restaurants in Britain, with Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine all available here. There are more than 70 Asian takeaways, sweet houses, shisha cafes and restaurants within less than a mile of each other; most are really cheap. Quality varies, so do some research before choosing a restaurant.
Because of its unique historical ties with the Asian subcontinent, the UK has Europe’s largest South-Asian community (more than 3,000,000 at the last count). This has profoundly changed the country’s eating habits and South Asian cuisine, usually generalised as “curry”, is now a central part of British culture. Many of the restaurants stay open until after 3am, to feed people after an evening in the pub.
The Spinningfields area of Central Manchester was developed after a massive IRA bomb in 1996 destroyed an unloved part of town (don’t worry… the days of bombs are now history). A lovely park in the middle of the development is now home to an open-air cinema on Thursday nights during the summer months, with tickets costing just £3. The pop-up bars around the park are perfect for a pint. Find out more at spinningfieldsonline.com/events/screenfields.
Cheap Train tickets
Brits disagree with each other about many things, but one opinion is shared by almost every man, woman and child across the islands: the privatization of their railways has been a disaster. The fare system is mind-boggling and has reduced many visitors – and locals – to tears over the years. If you are smart, however, you can find some real bargains. The trick to getting cheap tickets is to buy them in advance.
For example, if you book well before you want to travel, you can easily get a one-way ticket from Manchester to London for under £15 (see virgintrains.co.uk). That’s a 300km journey! Buying a ticket at the station for the same train on the day of the journey, you could pay over £130. Even if you can’t book far in advance, you will save money by purchasing your tickets online before arriving at the station.
Tour the BBC
A tour of the BBC Studios at Salford Quays offers you an insight into one of the world’s great media organizations. The British Broadcasting Corporation relocated a large part of its production from London at the start of the new millennium and has helped to make Manchester one of the fastest-growing cities in the UK for the creative, media and digital industries.
Tours take place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10.30, 12.30 and 15.00; and on Saturdays and Sundays. Pre-booking is essential.
Find out what’s happening around the city
In an age where local listings magazines are migrating online, it’s nice to be able to pick up a real piece of pulped tree and throw it in your bag. The Skinny (theskinny.co.uk) stepped up to the challenge in 2013 and is an excellent place to get up to date with what’s going on in Manchester. For online listings, you could check out manchesterconfidential.co.uk or Creative Tourist’s Manchester pages (creativetourist.com/manchester/).
Explore the countryside
Leave the city for a day and you can discover one of the most beautiful areas of Great Britain. Canals dating back to the industrial revolution provide some beautiful walks and bike rides through the rolling green landscapes of Northern England. Old mining and mill towns provide the perfect opportunity to stop and enjoy local ale. If you are hooked on Downton Abbey and want to see an English country house up-close, Tatton Park is nearby and a splendid place to spend an afternoon.
The Peak District and Lake District are within easy reach of Manchester and are ideal for a weekend surrounded by nature.
To watch, read, listen
Watch 24 Hour Party People (2002) Director: Michael Winterbottom East is East (1999) Director: Damien O'Donnell 28 Days Later (2002) Director: Danny Boyle
(Manchester’s streets have also doubled as New York in movies like Captain America and Alfie)
The Odeon IMAX at The Printworks (27 Withy Grove) is the place to go for big screen, big budget action, or you could consider the AMC (235 Deansgate). For a more eclectic mix of movies, check out the Cornerhouse (70 Oxford St).
Read Manchester, England by Dave Haslam The Condition of the Working Class in England by Friedrich Engels The Emigrants by WG Sebald
Listen (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division Power, Corruptions & Lies by New Order
The place to go to see big bands before they are famous is the Roadhouse (8 Newton St, www.theroadhouselive.co.uk). Groups including Coldplay, Kasabian and The White Stripes all played here on their way to international fame. Band On The Wall(25 Swan St, bandonthewall.org) dates back to 1862 and is a not-for-profit, charity run venue. Resident DJs Mr. Scruff and Craig Charles are legends of Britain’s funk, soul and world-music scene. Alternatively, The Deaf Institute (135 Grosvenor St, thedeafinstitute.co.uk) and the Night & Day (26 Oldham St, nightnday.org) are enduringly popular with Manchester’s students.
One of the coolest venues in town is theAntwerp Mansion (Rusholme Grove, antwerpmansion.com): an old industrialist’s mansion that has been converted into an arts and music venue. It’s a little hard to find, but well worth the search. The Curry Mile is just around the corner, so you could combine the two.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to electronic music in Manchester. Going since 1994, Sankeys (Beehive Mill, Jersey St, sankeys.info) is one of the most enduringly popular clubs in town whereas the Warehouse Project brings serious electronic artists to town each autumn.