After months of hype, speculation and the occasional leaked photo, the New Manchester stadium is finally ready to welcome its first visitors this week. When it opens on Friday as host to the FA Cup third-round clash with bitter rivals Liverpool, the Premier League home of our red neighbours will be exactly that: New.
The old ground has been demolished and rebuilt from scratch, maintaining as little of the old structure as possible. Consequently, it’s left many wondering what else there is to see and do in Manchester if you aren’t a football fan – after all, this new ground doesn’t exactly give its local rivals any home advantage… Fortunately for anyone who finds themselves in the city on Friday night and doesn’t want to watch Newcastle vs Norwich instead (okay, not everyone), there are plenty of things to do in Manchester that aren’t just a football stadium. Here are some ideas:
1. The National Football Museum
The National Football Museum is a must-see for any football fan. Located in the centre of Manchester, it is home to the largest collection of football-related artefacts in the world. From a display of World Cup trophies to the world’s first football shirt, the museum has everything a football fan could ever want. On top of all of this, the National Football Museum has a bar and restaurant that is open to both museum visitors and the general public. It is not to be missed. The National Football Museum is open every day (except Christmas Day) and the last entry is at 6 PM. The museum currently charges £19.50 for a standard adult ticket and £14.50 for a child (between 5 and 15 years old). If you are a student, you can get discounted entry by showing your student ID card when purchasing tickets.
2. The Lowry and the O2
Manchester’s two largest theatres are just two of the venues that make up the city’s thriving theatre culture. The Lowry is home to the largest theatre in the North of England and hosts everything from touring productions to ballet and musicals. The O2 is the largest arena in Great Britain and hosts everything from comedy to sports and music. If the above doesn’t excite you, then fear not.
Manchester’s theatre scene is diverse and will cater to everybody. From stand-up and musicals in theatres that are almost as old as Manchester itself, to truly cutting-edge theatre in spaces that feel more like laboratories than theatres. The O2 and the Lowry both host a broad range of shows, but The O2 is more likely to have a show that you are interested in. Although The O2 is a larger venue, it will likely have cheaper ticket prices than The Lowry.
3. Manchester International Festival
The International Festival is a biennial arts festival that has been running since 2002. It has since grown to become one of the largest cultural festivals in the world, with over one million attendees in 2015 alone. The festival has been hosted at a variety of venues across the city and has featured the work of artists such as David Bowie, Kylie Minogue, Benedict Cumberbatch and many others.
The festival runs for two weeks every two years and hosts a wide array of events, from theatre and music to dance and visual arts. The International Festival has been running since 2002 and is one of the largest arts festivals in the world with over one million attendees in 2015 alone. The festival has been hosted at a variety of venues across the city and has featured the work of artists such as David Bowie, Kylie Minogue, Benedict Cumberbatch and many others. The festival runs for two weeks every two years and hosts a wide array of events, from theatre and music to dance and visual arts.
4. Manchester Central Library
Manchester’s flagship library is a masterpiece of early-20th-century architecture. Opened in 1934, it was designed by the architect Sir Charles Spooner. It is the second largest library in the UK, with over 6 million books, manuscripts and other items within its walls. The library has been closed since 2012 and is currently undergoing a £50 million renovation project. The building is an architectural masterpiece, but the interior has been reworked several times since it was first built. It is now much brighter than it was in its heyday and is filled with modern design. The library is open to the public, but it is accessible only to people who are studying or doing other research. The library also hosts a range of exhibitions and events, including talks and workshops.
5. Manchester Central Food Market
The Manchester Central Food Market opened in October 2018 and is situated in the newly redeveloped Market Street Food Quarter in the city centre. The market is the largest indoor food market in the UK and offers a range of cuisines including Italian, British and Asian food, as well as a selection of vegan and vegetarian options. A market is a great place for both locals and tourists to sample unique foods from across the globe, without having to travel too far. The market is open every weekday between 11 AM and 9 PM, and on Saturdays between 9 AM and 6 PM. Entry is free and, once inside, the food can be eaten or taken away.
6. St. Michael’s and St. Thomas’ Church
St. Michael’s and St. Thomas’ Church is the oldest surviving church in Manchester. Located close to the city centre, the church has been around in some form since 1119 and is thought to be one of the first churches to be built in England. The church is most famous for its decorative roof, which is a mix of English and Oriental styles. The church has been a tourist destination since the 19th century, receiving visitors and dignitaries such as the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall in 1901 and the Dalai Lama in 2002. The church is still in use today, but it is open only on Saturdays from 10 AM to 12 PM. The church has a small admission fee and is worth visiting for both its architecture and its history.
7. Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul
The Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford and was built in 1882. The cathedral is a beautiful masterpiece of Victorian and Gothic architecture and is a Grade II listed building. The cathedral is open every day of the week and is a great place for both tourists and locals to visit. The cathedral is open daily and has a small entrance fee. It is worth visiting for both its architecture and its religious significance. Visitors can take a tour of the cathedral, which lasts approximately 15 minutes, or just sit and admire the architecture.
8. People’s History Museum and the University of Manchester Institute of Cultural Industries (UMIC)
The People’s History Museum is dedicated to exploring the history of everyday people and their struggles. The museum explores a wide variety of topics including trade unionism, immigration, women’s rights, toys, and sport. The museum has a great interactive exhibition on what life is like for somebody who lives on less than £10 a day, as well as a lot of information on the history of football in Britain.
The University of Manchester Institute of Cultural Industries, or UMIC, is a wide-ranging exhibition exploring the different cultural industries that have contributed to the city of Manchester. The exhibition covers everything from music and sport to design, food, and theatre and is suitable for visitors of all ages. Both the People’s History Museum and UMIC are free to visit, and they are great places to spend a few hours exploring the history of the city. UMIC is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM, except for the first Sunday of every month when it is closed. The People’s History Museum is open every day except for Mondays and does not have set visiting hours.
9. New Islington: You Can Still Visit The Etihad Stadium!
New Islington is the new community that is growing up around the Etihad Stadium, home of Premier League side Manchester City. The stadium opened in 2003, replacing the old Maine Road ground. It is one of the largest football stadiums in England with a capacity of over 55,000. The stadium is also the home of the City of Manchester Athletics Club, and there is a large running park just behind the stadium. If you find yourself on the south side of the city and want to visit the stadium, it is best to get there as soon as the match ends. The stadium re-opens 45 minutes after the final