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Things to Do in Manchester

Affectionately known as the Venice of the North, Manchester is a thriving metropolis famed for its nightlife, sporting culture, and historic canal network. Sports fans are enticed by Old Trafford, the colossal stadium home to Manchester United FC; a plethora of gig venues and concert halls are evidence of the northern England city’s illustrious music scene; and the close proximity of the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales means travelers looking to get in touch with nature don’t have far to go. Ideal for families, Manchester offers an abundance of museums, parks, and restaurants guaranteed to delight children and adults alike.
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Etihad Stadium (City of Manchester Stadium)
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The mighty Etihad, also known as the City of Manchester Stadium, is the home of Manchester City Football Club. Built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the award-winning venue is among the UK’s largest with seating for more than 55,000. In addition to football games, the stadium hosts live concerts, other sports matches, and stadium tours.

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Peak District National Park
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An idyllic expanse of grassy peaks, rugged peat moors and stone-brick villages; the Peak District National Park became Britain’s first national park back in 1951 and remains one of the country’s most visited regions. With over 555 square miles (1,438 square kilometers) to explore, it’s an obvious choice for lovers of the outdoors and the vast network of hiking, cycling, horse riding and climbing routes include famous long distance trails like The Pennine Way.

Additional highlights of the Peak District National Park include the Castleton Caves; the 2,087-foot (636-meter) peak of Kinder Scout; and Chatsworth House, the magnificent estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Other popular destinations include the town of Bakewell, renowned for its Bakewell Tarts; the Georgian spa town of Buxton; and the historic village of Eyam, known for its fascinating plague history.

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Manchester Cathedral
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This beautiful cathedral has a long history. It first opened its doors as a small parish in the 1420s and grew over the next 400 years, along with the city where it is located.

Intricate detail can be found throughout this building, which achieved cathedral status when a new diocese was created in 1847. Wood-carvings in and around the choir stalls tell a story of life in the distant past. Other historical artifacts include the Angel Stone, which is located in the wall of the South Porch and dates back to around 700. There are also more recent historical displays, such as the “Fire Window,” a window which was destroyed during WWII and then replaced, and depicts the Nazi attack.

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John Rylands Library
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The John Rylands Library is oft considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Resurrected in the 1890s and taking more than a decade to construct, the gothic and gorgeous library was designed by architect Basil Champneys. It opened its doors on the first of the year, 1900. In 1972, the historic library became a part of the University of Manchester.

Today, John Rylands Library is part of the third largest academic library in the UK, and the Deansgate building houses some of the most significant books and manuscripts ever written, along with extensive collections and rotating exhibits. One of five National Research Libraries, there are more than 4 million books and manuscripts in the library, along with 41,000-plus electronic journals, 500,000 e-books and hundreds of databases

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Old Trafford
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With a capacity of nearly 75,000, Old Trafford is the UK’s second-largest football (soccer) stadium and home of Manchester United since 1910. Beside Premier League fixtures, the venue has hosted Olympic games, rugby league finals, and several international cup matches. The on-site museum houses the team’s famous continental treble trophy.

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Imperial War Museum North
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The Imperial War Museum North—one of five branches of the Imperial War Museum throughout England—is housed in a Daniel Libeskind–designed building meant to resemble a globe split into shards. The museum houses a collection of more than 2,000 objects that relate to global conflict and show how the specter of war changes lives forever.

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Science and Industry Museum
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Delve into Manchester’s inventive and industrial heritage at the Science and Industry Museum. Housed in a building that served as the world’s first passenger railway station, the museum includes a wide collection of vintage vehicles, historical machinery, hands-on exhibitions, and other engaging offerings.

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People's History Museum
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Take a step back through the more recent history of Manchester’s organized labor movement and social history from the 18th century and on. Here, visitors can learn about the people who made the city what it is today and the people’s fight for democracy.

Collections here are very extensive and include objects designated as being of national importance by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Included in the museum is a cache of political cartoons from the 18th and 19th centuries that are considered one of the finest collections outside of the British Museum. There are also poster collections dating back to the Spanish Civil War, along with an exhibit of pins, medals and tokens from organizations, political movements and more.

But the museum extends beyond the political and also includes art and other historic items. Explore work by Cliff Rowe, ceramics, photographs, plus odds and ends like Thomas Paine’s death mask and more.

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Manchester Museum
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Owned by the University of Manchester and housed in a striking, neo-Gothic building, the Manchester Museum has a vast collection that spans natural history, anthropology, and archaeology. Collection highlights include everything from a fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex (nicknamed "Stan") to ancient Egyptian artifacts.

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SEA LIFE® Manchester
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Spend an educational day exploring the underwater world without getting too wet: participate in a feeding demo, attend a talk, or stroke a starfish. At SEA LIFE® Manchester, 30 display tanks, including an immersive ocean tunnel, house more than 5,000 sea creatures—everything from jellyfish to sea turtles, spider crabs to sharks.

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More Things to Do in Manchester

LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre, Manchester

LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre, Manchester

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One of only two in the United Kingdom, LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Manchester promises an exciting family-friendly day out. Let your imagination run riot at LEGO® workshops, ride Kingdom Quest, check out the 4D cinema, and marvel over miniatures. Then, stop by the play area before buying bricks of your own in the LEGO shop.

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The Lowry

The Lowry

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Consistently one of Manchester’s most-visited attractions, the Lowry is a visual and performing arts center that houses three theaters, plus galleries and other public spaces. Opened in 2000 and dedicated by the Queen of England, the Lowry has played a significant role in the regeneration of the city’s Salford Quays area.

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Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery

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One of Manchester’s premier museums, the Manchester Art Gallery was founded in the early 19th century and boasts a collection of more than 25,000 objects. It’s particularly renowned for its Victorian-era artworks (including multiple Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces) and places a strong focus on the decorative arts.

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