When I was a lass growing up in Yorkshire the first thing that sprang to mind when anyone mentioned Manchester was Coronation Street. Eastenders was never a big thing up north you see. We watched Emmerdale, as it was from Yorkshire, and Coronation Street so we could keep track of what was going on on t’other side of the Pennines. We were always wary of them over there – after all, look at any map and it’s clear to see that there’s only one “right” side of the Pennines. So in my mind Manchester was this large city of small cobbled streets, local boozers like the Rovers Return and people with extraordinarily complicated lives. It almost felt like a shock when I finally went over there with my family and discovered it to be completely different!
When I recently booked a trip to Manchester for a conference I spotted a good deal on Hotel Direct and instead decided to turn it into a whole family weekend away. I’ve done my research into what we could all do whilst there and I was actually amazed at just how much there is going on – even in the Autumn time when you might expect things to be quieter after the summer. So here goes with my top Ten things to do in Manchester in the Autumn.
1. Walking Tour
From my time living in London as a student I’ve always been a firm believer that the best way to get to know a place is to walk its streets, and Manchester is no different. There are walking tours available to suit all interests and they range from pub walks, to ones about the spies and spooks of Manchester, through to the history of Manchester during the war. You don’t need to pre-book for most of these so you can easily take a last minute call based on the weather.
2. MOSI – Museum of Science and Industry
It’s only in the north it seems that science museums add the word “industry” to their names, but us Northerners are understandably proud of our industrial history. MOSI is part of a group of museums, including the Science Museum in London, the National Railway Museum in York and the National Media Museum in Bradford, and it really has become a bit of a destination museum over the last few years. The museum is free to visit (although there may be charges for some special exhibitions) and it’s easy to spend a whole day there are you’re taken on a journey through Manchester’s history from the cotton mills through to it becoming a 24-hour party capital.
Mention Manchester to many people, especially overseas, and their first response will probably be to talk of one of the city’s two football teams. Although one of the teams’ fortunes so far this season aren’t exactly what they would have hoped for there’s no doubt that a game at either Old Trafford or the Etihad Stadium will show you some top football – even if the scoreline doesn’t go the way you want. At Old Trafford you’ve also got the Manchester United Museum and at the Etihad Stadium their Legends Tours are re-starting this October. Whether you’re red or blue, Manchester’s footballing history and pedigree is a must for all fans.
4. The Hallé Orchestra
Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall is home to the legendary Hallé orchestra and seeing them perform live is said to be one of the most incredible spectacles in the classical music world. Their season starts in September and throughout the autumn and the Hallé perform a huge number of concerts as well as working alongside their award winning education programme which reaches out to 44,000 children and young people.
If you still need convincing why not watch their one minute overview.
5. Manchester Sea Life Centre
Manchester being somewhat landlocked meant that I would never have expected it to be somewhere to visit a Sea Life Centre, but that’s exactly what fellow blogger Boo Roo and Tigger Too did on their visit last autumn. Located at the famous Trafford Centre this is a newer Sea Life Centre and one of the highlights is their Turtle Beach experience. All children love turtles and this takes you through the turtles’ life as they return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs, and how the temperature of the sand determines the sex of the baby turtle. Not something I knew before!
6. Legoland Discovery Centre
As if the Manchester Sea Life Centre isn’t enough fun at the Trafford Centre it’s also home to the Legoland Discovery Centre. Now, I think you’d struggle to find a child, young or old, that doesn’t love Lego so the Legoland Discovery Centre is a perfect attraction for kids of all ages. Being indoors it’s also perfect for those autumn or winter days when the weather outside isn’t too good.
Visitors are given a demonstration as to how Lego bricks are made, as well as a Miniland featuring some well known northern sights and the famous Lego cars to drive. There’s definitely no shortage of things to do there and it’s become a northern must-visit for Lego fans.
7. Manchester Museum
So many people overlook museums in universities, but you certainly shouldn’t as they’re often fantastic places, with some great exhibits and the Manchester Museum certainly falls into that category. As well as one of the largest collections of Egyptian artefacts in the UK, there are also dinosaurs and live animals in their vivarium. They’ve even won and been shortlisted for several awards for being a family friendly museum.
8. Manchester Literature Festival
2014 sees the first St Albans Literary Festival (which I’m even going to be speaking at – more about that soon!) so I’m particularly interested to see how other cities approach their book festivals. The main part of the Manchester Literature Festival runs from the 6th to the 19th October, and features over 80 events, making it somewhat bigger than what’s planned here in St Albans. There are a few events that also slip into November so even if you miss the main part of the festival, it may still be worth checking their brochure to see what else is on.
9. Manchester Science Festival
The geek in my loves a science festival so I was delighted to find out that the Manchester Science Festival runs from the 23rd October to the 2nd November this year. This is the festival’s 8th year, and although it is produced by MOSI (see above) it takes place at venues across the city, Greater Manchester, Salford and Bolton. As well as there being a great family programme there are also threads aimed at teenagers – an age group that so often is missed out in my opinion.
10. Coronation Street
Come on – you can’t be any sort of a soap fan and not visit those famous cobbles can you? Coronation Street The Tour takes you behind the scenes on the Manchester’s most famous street, and during September and October this year there are even some special evening tours where you could be lucky enough to have Richard Hillman, Maureen Naylor or legend Reg Holdsworth showing you around.
So, that’s my plans for Manchester this autumn. What would be on your must do list?
Disclaimer: This featured post was brought to you in association with Hotel Direct.
Pictures credits: Manchester - Richard Hayes, www.tecmark.co.uk, Old Trafford Manchester United – Paul, Coronation Street – Rach. All photos used under the Creative Commons licence.