Castlefield in Manchester is a great starting point for waterside walks in Manchester. It’s across the road from Manchester Science and Industry Museum, an exciting place to visit even before you start walking! Follow the Bridgewater Canal south west as far as Old Trafford (where a stadium tour is available), and then walk across to the Manchester Ship Canal. On the Trafford side there is the Imperial War Museum, or cross the footbridge to visit the Lowry Gallery and theatre complex (and outlet shopping mall). If you don’t want to walk back, you can always take the tram. In the other direction from Castlefield, follow the Rochdale Canal to walk under central Manchester’s busiest streets whilst watching barges negotiate locks. There is plenty of choice for refreshment with the bars and restaurants at Deansgate Locks and along Canal Street. At Piccadilly Basin you can either return to Castlefield by walking through the city centre, visiting museums, art galleries (or shops) along the way – or continue walking along the towpaths of either the Rochdale Canal or the Manchester and Ashton Under Lyne Canal. The latter leads to Manchester’s other football stadium.
Museum of Science and Industry:
Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4FP
+44(0)161 832 2244
Google map: bit.ly/qiM1Hu
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ
+44(0)843 208 6000
Google map: bit.ly/oTOCEe
Imperial War Museum North
The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ
+ 44 (0) 161 836 4000
Google map: bit.ly/pDppEq
This is truly one of Manchester’s hidden gems, tucked away in the city’s Northern Quarter. Housed in a Victorian Police station, built in 1879 and in use until 1979, the Police Museum contains one of the finest collections of police paraphernalia in the country. The museum’s array of police vehicles, equipment and uniforms are a particular draw, with most visitors unable to resist the temptation of trying something on.
The building has retained its original Victorian cells, complete with wooden pillows and a birching stool, giving visitors a glimpse of the less celebrated side of Manchester’s history. Parents can rest assured that children will be on their best behaviour, as those that are not may face the discomfort of having a pair of historical handcuffs demonstrated on them.
This place is great for adults too. While the children are busy locking themselves up, adults may also find themselves in cramped surroundings – the Greater Manchester Police Archives are held at the museum and an interesting afternoon can be spent researching your family’s criminal past.
Admission is free, but the museum is only open on Tuesdays, 10.30am - 3.30pm. Last admission is at 3pm. It is recommended to allow 1.5 hours for the visit.
GMP Museum & Archives, 57a Newton Street, Manchester, M1 1ET.
+44 (0)161 856 3287
Every year I return with my daughter, now aged six, travelling near two hours to capture the Christmas spirit and to buy some great Christmas presents from log versions of Rudolph the Reindeer to make a great winter garden feature, to moroccan raffia and leather shopping baskets.
It ranges from a traditional German Market to European Market and an arts and crafts market.
Travelling with children works wonders, share a bratwurst sausage in Albert Square while admiring the nodding Reindeer. Agree that they can choose one treat from one of the 200 stalls; Angelica chose a husky dog keyring this year and in return they help you with the bag carrying and the decision making. Keep the energy up with snacks along the way like delicious chocolate marshmallows sticks and you have a fantastic festive day out.
There are 200 stalls across six different sites in the city centre - Albert Square, St Ann's Square, Brazennose Street, New Cathedral Street, and Exchange Street
Manchester's Christmas Markets open on Wednesday, 18 November 2009 and run until Tuesday, 21 December 2009
Challenge your world weary kids with the sly, funny and Surreal performances of The Whalley Range All Stars. You’ll need to be on the move around the UK to catch them, as they don’t work from a permanent theatre. Watch out for them at festivals, in foyers, libraries, theatre rooftops, the street, anywhere really.
In ‘Bedcases’ get into bed with four strangers and pull the duvet up under your chins to watch a Magritte inspired, gentle, snoozy dream. One actor, five audience members and three flying ducks. Suckle up to a lactating, pink sow the size of an elephant and enter her body to experience a short theatre piece. Or Pop your head into a box to see ‘Headcase’ a theatre where there’s room for you only. You can’t get any more intimate than this.
But the Allstars don’t always work to such a small scale, their lastest show, ‘Brainwave’ is designed for audiences of two or three hundred with gigantic puppets, animators and a stage within a giant head within a garden shed. The summer seems to be their busy time so keep your eyes peeled and check their website for future sightings.
The Whalley Range All Stars.
Venues vary check the website
The Trafford Centre is probably the best shopping centre I have visited. There are so many shops to choose from - and there is a shop for everyone!
From clothes, accessories, sportswear, gaming, homeware, beauty and more - you are certain to come home with a car full of shopping bags.
There are also lots of great restaurants, bars and cafes to suit everyone's tastebuds after you've worked up an appetite from all that shopping - from Indian and Spanish cuisine restaurants to cosy coffee bars - you're bound to fine somewhere to satifsy the whole family.
As well as shops, bars and restaurants, the Trafford Centre is also the venue of many events such as fashion shows, dances and other competitions- it's also appeared on Channel 4's '10 Years Younger'.
So if you're looking for somewhere to shop, shop, shop - and then relax, the Trafford Centre could be right up your street!
Check out the Trafford Centre website for more information
The Gallery provides a large collection of great permanent and special event art exhibitions which would interest all ages.
All sorts of works from all periods of art history, including paintings and sculptures. The building itself is architecturally very interesting with its new all-glass section connecting two parts of the main buildings. Other galleries in the area worth noting are the Whitworth (on Wilmslow road across the road from the hospitals) and the Lowry centre (in Salford Quays).
Mosley Street, not far from the Central Library and the Town Hall.
A delightful little eatery hidden away on a back street near The Village. If you like you dining outings to be a relaxed, enjoyable event then you will love it. Taking inspiration from centuries old Mongolian warrior traditions, you select your raw food (a host of meats, vegetables, sauces and spices) and one of the talented chefs grills and cooks the meal before your eyes. Wonderful decor and polite, attentive staff make this one of the most original and enjoyable eating experiences in Manchester.
16 Chorlton Street, Manchester (walkable from Picadilly Gardens and station);
tel: 0161 228 1631;
A wonderful vegetarian cafe in the Northern Quarter with excellent coffee, imaginative and tasty food and friendly staff. There is a quirky shop at the back and a collection of excellent DVDs which you can borrow.
Across the road from the famous Earth Cafe
Keep your kids happy in the interactive gallery at Manchester Art Gallery. Buttons to press, things to do, clothes to dress up in. Take the portrait challenge: can you sit still while the woman in the picture twitches, smiles and burps?
Mosley Street; Tel: 0161 235 8888; www.manchestergalleries.org/
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