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The Whitworth art gallery in Manchester. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon
The Whitworth art gallery in Manchester. Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Manchester must-dos

Manchester has more to offer than football, nightlife and musical heritage. Here’s a snapshot of the city via seven tips spanning art, culture, a spot of shopping and a bit of park life.

Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

More than worth it

The Whitworth art gallery was awarded the prestigious Museum of the Year award in 2015, and it’s easy to see why. The recently revamped space, lofty and bright yet intimate, is a joy to wander round, even before taking in the actual art. There are over 55,000 items in the museum’s collection, including textiles, prints, sculptures and paintings from many of the art world’s hall of fame. Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth are all featured, but also lesser known names such as Manchester textile designer Barbara Brown, to whom the museum has dedicated a solo exhibition that runs until January 2018. Once you’ve explored, rest your feet in the glass-fronted café, overlooking Whitworth Park.

The Whitworth

Oxford Road, Manchester

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Open daily, 10am-5pm; late night opening until 9pm on Thursday

Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Turn a page and spend a penny

One of the world's finest collections of rare books and manuscripts is housed on Deansgate in a spectacular neo-Gothic building designed by Basil Champneys. The collection, to which the public has had access since 1900, boasts around 1.4 million items, spanning not just printed books and manuscripts but also archives, photographs and maps. Some of the artifacts are centuries old. The famous Historic Reading Room may be the crowning glory of the library, but don’t forget to nip to the loo – the famous Victorian toilets underneath the historic Entrance Hall are still in use, complete with original features such as marble-top sinks and oak cisterns.

The John Rylands Library

150 Deansgate, Manchester

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Open daily 10am-5pm

Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Ahead of the curve

Any male style buff worth his salt will recognize the name Oi Polloi. This cult menswear store, which opened in the Northern Quarter fifteen years ago by co-founders Steve Sanderson and Nigel Lawson, sells a good edit of classic and contemporary brands including A.P.C., MHL By Margaret Howell, Norse Projects, Patagonia and Engineered Garments. Serving as a bit of a launch pad, Oi Polloi was one of the first international fashion stores to stock Fjällräven, years before it became the hipster staple it is today. New York brand Adsum is one of the latest additions to join the roster.

Oi Polloi

63 Thomas Street, Manchester

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Open daily 10am-6pm (closes 5pm on Sunday)

The big green

Manchester might be better known for its buzzy urbanity than parkland, but there are green areas, if a little out of the city center (you’ll get there by bus or tram). Stretching across 240 hectares, Heaton Park is one of Europe’s largest green areas, with more than enough room for golf courses, forest trails and an animal center. Playing host to regular events, you’ll be able to catch anything from theatre productions and niche shows to concerts and workshops throughout the year.Visit tfgm.com/buses for bus routes

Heaton Park

Middleton Road, Manchester

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Open daily from 8am until dusk

Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Northern powerhouse

Entertaining children in cities is not always easy, but the Museum of Science and Industry manages that feat well with fun workshops, temporary exhibitions and science-in-action exhibits – let your offspring create their own tornado or watch their skeleton go on a bicycle ride. There are plenty of cars, bikes and airplanes to marvel at but the star attraction is arguably the huffing and puffing steam engine, the sort that famously powered mills across the North West of England, helping to shape the region during the industrial revolution.

Museum of Science and Industry

Liverpool Road, Manchester

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Open daily 10am-17pm

Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Crinolines and trees

The Gallery of Costume showcases the best pieces from Manchester Art Gallery’s extensive costume archive, which spans six centuries of fashion. Housed in its own Georgian building, the beautiful Platt Hall no less, the intimate gallery occasionally put on exhibitions dedicated to sole designers alongside the permanent displays – Mary Quant’s work was recently spotlighted, for example. Located two miles south of the city centre in Platt Fields Park, Rusholme, even people without the slightest interest in frocks will find this leafy oasis worthy of a visit (and Curry Mile is just down the road).

Gallery of Costume

Platt Hall, Rusholme, Manchester

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Open Thursday and Friday 1-5pm; Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm

Hanging with the locals

Leafy Chorlton, an hour’s walk or a ten-minute drive south of Manchester city center, has seen an influx of Mancunians wanting to escape the city. A particular draw for creative types, the main spots of Chorlton Cross, Beech Road and Wilbraham Road are studded with indie shops, craft beer drinking dens and cozy cafés. Velbekomme Café, a Scandi inspired place on 495 Barlow Moor Road, is a godsend for homesick Scandis desperate for a good old fika, or perhaps even better – the Mancunian, home-baked interpretation thereof.

Chorlton neighbourhood

Beech Road, Manchester

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Text: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

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