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Published January 15th 2013
What mustn't you miss in Manchester?
1) Take a trip to the Quays. Salford Quays has grown at an exponential rate over the past 10 years, with the BBC's so-called "Media City" gleaming at one side, while the Imperial War Museum and the Lowry centre face it.
Media City, Salford
The shopping still isn't great here (although you will find a few high street discount outlets), but the culture is. The Lowry tells you the cultural story of Manchester, both through its vibrant catalogue of dramas and exhibitions and through the sombre parade of matchstick men on the prints in the shop, by the man for whom the building is named. The Imperial War Museum is an absorbing and sometimes harrowing look at 20th century battlefields. And don't forget to book a tour of the Beeb buildings while you're here and see the sets of Match of the Day, Mastermind and Blue Peter. There's also an interactive tour for youngsters. Go to www.bbc.co.uk
2) See some sport. Manchester is sport-mad, as evinced by its two table-topping football teams. Going to either Old Trafford or the City of Manchester Stadium (or whatever it's calling itself these days!) is a real experience – more like visiting a theme park than the grandstands of old. If you can't afford that, the new National Museum of Football, opened at the URBIS, may be a better way to experience the beautiful game. Manchester has also paid host to the Commonwealth Games and you can drop by and see British Cycling in action or even take up skiing at Chill Factore at The Trafford Centre.
3) Pose outside the Salford Lads' Club. This was the setting for the iconic Smiths' album cover The Queen Is Dead. Even David Cameron couldn't resist having his picture taken "Morrissey-style". Was Morrissey happy about that? Well, is he happy about anything?
4) Go clubbing. It may no longer be known as "Mad-chester" but the city is still a great night out. Try 42nd Street or 5th Avenue – two of the city's best-known clubs.
5) Feel the music. Manchester is famous for its music, whether it's Oasis, Joy Division, Elbow, The Stone Roses and New Order or the Halle Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata and Chetham's School of Music. This is an amazing building that has schooled some of our country's most renowned classic musicians. And you can drop by on one of their lunchtime concerts – many of which are free – if you fancy hearing what the next generation has in store. See their website for details.