5 Things To Do In Manchester That Have Nothing To Do With David Beckham
A few years ago Manchester, England, got an approving nod from the New York Times when the newspaper named the city in its top 41 places to visit in the world. Outside of England, the city’s probably best known for its two popular football clubs and, to a lesser extent, the post-punk sounds of the Smiths and Joy Division. For travelers curious to see what helped land the city the Times’ mention, we put together a few fun, cultural things to do in Manchester that have absolutely nothing to do with football or David Beckham.
See the Stars
Believe it or not, you’ll see more stars in Manchester than you’ll ever see in Hollywood, California, and that has everything to do with the Godlee Observatory. Located on the roof of Manchester University’s Sackville Street Building via vertigo inducing spiral staircase, this full functioning observatory has been around since 1902 and retains its original Grubb telescope as well as the rope and wheels used to move it. Each Thursday around 7 p.m., the observatory offers free access for visitors.
Key information: Enter the building through the entrance on Granby Row. People without university swipe cards WILL need to phone the observatory at +44 0161 306 4977 to have someone let you in. The entrance to the observatory is located on floor G.
Website: Godlee Observatory | Address: Sackville St, Manchester M1 3WA
Spend some time with Marx and Engels
If only the walls of Chetham’s Library could talk…actually, I guess they sort of can, since they’re full of books. Dating back to the 17th century (the building itself is from 1421), Chetham’s Library is England’s oldest free public library, and has used by the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, and musician Damon Albarn The libraries biggest claim to fame, however, is that Carl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote the first draft of the Communist Manifesto here, and patrons can still sit at the table where it was written.
Key information: Marx and Engels worked together at the four sided wooden desk in the window alcove of the Reading Room.
Website: Chetham’s Library | Address: Long Millgate, Manchester, M3 1SB
What happens at the Royal Exchange Theatre may leave you bewildered and wide-eyed, and that’s exactly what the performers want. Whether the theater is hosting a classic production (think William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde) or premiering one of its own, the unique design of the Royal Exchange Theater ensures that all seats are less than 27 feet from the circular stage, giving the audience views from all angles. Situated in the historic Victorian Cotton Exchange Buildings, The Royal Exchange Theatre is where amazing happens in Manchester.
Key information: The Royal Exchange Theatre is located in Manchester city center, so if you’re looking for a place to stay nearby, you may want to check out Hotel Direct to see what they have for your visit to the city. In addition to its award winning productions, the theater also hosts, live music events, poetry readings and free exhibitions.
Website: Royal Exchange Theatre | Address: St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH
Stop and smell the roses (or skate & destroy)
Opening in 1910 as public park, Platt Fields features a variety of gardens, such as the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee gardens, a Shakespearean Garden that was reportedly designed to showcase planets from his works, and a community orchard garden. You’ll also find gardens containing ferns, heathers and roses as well as a picnic area and labyrinth. Platt Fields also features a large lake, which is popular for boating and fishing, as well as a skate park and BMX track.
Key information: Platt Fields is located in South Central Manchester and is approximately two miles from the city center. It can easily be reached by walking or by bus from the city center. You can find detailed information about which bus routes service the park here.
Website: Platt Fields | Address: Manchester, Greater Manchester M14 6LA
While the Northern Quarter has existed in one form or another since the gritty days of the Industrial Reveloution, its current incarnation, which came about with the areas gentrification in the 1990s, draws parallels to some of America’s hippest neighborhoods and cities, such as Greenwich Village, Brooklyn and Austin. In fact, Captain America: The First Avenger used Dale Street in the Northern Quarter to represent 1940s New York City. For the indie spirits out there, you’ll find dozens of restaurants, bars, galleries, record shops to keep you occupied, while you wander through this vibrant district.
Key information: Popular streets in the Northern Quarter include Oldham Street, Hilton Street Tib Street, Lever Street, Thomas Street, Newton Street and Dale Street.
Website: Northern Quarter Address: Northern Quarter (Set between Piccadilly and the Ancoats), Manchester M4 1HQ