Take your pick from Jeff Noon, Anthony Burgess, Nicholas Blincoe, Howard Jacobson. And for the suburbs (especially Stockport) Stevie Davies and Richard Francis. And don’t forget Mrs Gaskell and Howard Spring, whose Fame Is The Spur may not be great art but it begins in Manchester with the Peterloo massacre and keeps going at a gallop.
OK, so it’s set in next-door Salford but its full of grim-up-north grit which still lingers, despite the Manchester makeover. Or Raining Stones, Ken Loach’s sad story of a communion dress; set in Middleton, a world away from loft apartments and designer bars.
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/
As yet not too tarted up. Home to Asian rag trade wholesalers, new media entrepreneurs, a craft centre in an old market and the cool Chinese Arts Centre. And all the clothes, crystals and junk you could want in Affleck’s Palace.
Has to be a tram. Ride with a rumble and a hoot from St Peter’s Square, up the slope by the G-Mex exhibition centre and on to the Lowry cultural centre by the Manchester ship canal in Salford. Cross over to Daniel Libeskind’s Imperial War Museum North and then ride back.
Newly created tranquil haven bounded by the cathedral, Chetham’s school of music and Urbis, a striking new blue glass ski-slope housing Manchester’s museum of the city. Ideal for a lunchtime sandwich and a good book. Further out: Fletcher Moss Gardens in Didsbury, famed for rare and unusual plants.
Manchester Cathedral, Cathedral Yard, M3 1SX; manchestercathedral.org/
A choice of a thousand vindaloos and birianis on the curry mile in Rusholme. Unlikely to be followed by Manchester tart, a melange of shortcrust pastry, raspberry jam, coconut and custard. But you can always make it yourself.
On wilder Friday or Saturday nights, you can find 'love' in pretty well any doorway on Deansgate. Those intent on romance rather than lust may prefer to stroll hand in hand on canal towpaths at Castlefield, lingering on an elegant bridge as trams rumble serenely by.
A high-gabled, utterly original masterpiece on the delightfully named Daisy Bank Road, just south of the city centre. Built in 1903 to designs by Manchester architect Edgar Wood and raved over by Nikolaus Pevsner. Bit of arts and crafts movement, hint of art nouveau, lots of anticipation of German expressionism.
Daisy Bank Road
Manchester’s concert venue; home to the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata; stopping-off point for touring classical, jazz, world and folk stuff. Don’t believe all that hype about Birmingham’s Symphony Hall; this is the best music space in Britain. Up the road is Manchester Art Gallery, with a room packed with Pre-Raphaelites.
The Bridgewater Hall; Tel: 0161 950 0000; www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk
On a bench by the hideous tulip fountain in St Ann’s Square. Or in the newer Exchange Square, with its running water, curving stone benches (bit battered by skateboarders), steel windmills and hideous huge TV screen. Or any bar by the canal in the Gay Village.
The Deansgate glitterati all head for The Living Room, where you can’t help sharing the gents and perhaps a table with Manchester United stars. Big long bar downstairs; restaurant and The Study bar (no riff-raff) upstairs.
80 Deansgate; Tel: 0870 44 22 537; www.thelivingroom.co.uk/
Walk with eyes raised to take in the Victorian confidence of the buildings of the world’s first industrial city. Italian Renaissance palaces, Dutch gables, Greek temples, Gothic pinnacles – they’re all here. End up open-mouthed in Alfred Waterhouse’s town hall in Albert Square.
Manchester is too flat for great views. But the town hall tower always offers a lofty welcome as you head down hill on Bury New Road. There will soon be wonderful vertiginous views from the top of the Beetham Tower, a 47-storey (157m) hotels and apartments block now rising at the end of Deansgate.
Town Hall Extension (off St Peter's Square), Lloyd Street; tel: 0161 234 3157
The digital festival is a month long series of events covering digital art, technology and design. dSCAPE, a three day digital showcase, opens the festival and treats its audiences to a peek at the most exciting work in the industry. This is Brighton at its very best and it shows why the city has a reputation for being full of creative people. All that fresh air must be good for them!
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