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Published January 17th 2013
Explore Manchester on the Quick
Manchester: How to be a 48 hour party person
If one weekend is all you've got in Manchester, come with me and I'll walk you through how to cram in all the unmissables – and feel relaxed at the same time!
Sightseeing in Manchester: Day one
Enjoy the sound of lapping water on the Castlefield canalside. Castlefield is one of my favourite areas of Manchester, all the better for being hidden behind several foreboding railway arches. It makes you feel adventurous just for setting foot in the place.
Once you've ventured beneath them, you'll find relics of Manchester's past, from magnificent Victorian warehouses to the remains of a Roman fort. There are lots of lovely little tapas bars, lovely interiors shops and quaint old ale-serving boozers.
Enjoy strolling round this former industrial spot, before heading into the Museum of Science and Industry.
The museum is located in the world's oldest surviving railway station. It's full of magnificent machinery – its huge power hall is mind-boggling – and has some great events for kids, such as the Manchester mills show.
For brunch, go to Albert's Shed on Castle Street. It's a quirky little place in a former toolshed serving simple, beautifully cooked food. Pie, peas, gnocchi and pizza are all simply done and superbly presented. Frankly, more people should know about it.
Once you're suitable stuffed, move in the direction of Deansgate.
Make sure you pay a visit to the John Rylands library, on your left, described as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Built in the 1890s, it houses one of the country's greatest collections of treasures. Entry is free and visiting times are on the website. The amazing Gothic surroundings house the St John Fragment, the earliest-known piece of the New Testament, plus one of the world's most important Korans.
After all that hard work, you're going shopping. The Spinningfields area is replete with designer brands. In The Avenue, you'll find Armani and LK Bennett while, if you continue along Deansgate, you'll get to Selfridges and Harvey Nicholls, darling!
If the whirlwind of famous brands makes your head spin, you'll need some therapy of a different kind to help you unwind. Now you're really in the city, you could head for a drink at one of the many plush bars. Are you up for trying a lavender and coconut daiquiri at The Alchemist on New York Street?
If your Day One happens to be on a Thursday, you should definitely pay a visit to the Manchester Art Gallery, which is open until 9pm. There's a lovely, relaxed buzz about the gallery during its late-night opening. You can grab a glass of wine and amble among Impressionists, like Sisley and Pissarro, and pre-Raphaelite damsels in distress.
For your evening meal, I'd suggest dining at The Mark Addy, Manchester's famous riverside restaurant. I've never met anyone with a bad word to say about the place, which is quite some achievement when you've been in the city for 30-odd years. It's a lovely, relaxed location and the food is humorously stylish – try the cheese and onion pie with spiced baked beans.
Sightseeing in Manchester: Day two
The next morning, catch a tram along to Salford Quays. If you're a sports fan, you may want to call in at Old Trafford on the way, the home of Manchester United. If not, a trip to the Trafford Centre may be more like it. The X50 bus from Salford Quays will whisk you off to the famous shopping complex for a snack at the Selfridges Food Hall or to catch a film at the multiplex.
Back on the tram, hop off at Media City. This is the new home of BBC North and shortly to be the new home of Norris, Rita et al from Coronation Street which ITV are rapidly building across the river.
You can book tours of the Beeb and see behind the scenes of shows like Dragons' Den and Match of the Day.
There's discount shopping available at The Lowry shopping centre, after which you can call in at one of the several chain venues for a spot of lunch – the likes of Wagamama and Zizzi's all line the route.
You, however, may prefer coffee and cake at the Imperial War Museum café, which has great views of the area. The museum is a haunting gallery of light and sound, recapturing the personal stories of our most recent conflicts.
Finish off your day in Salford with a show at the amazing Lowry theatre before heading back into Manchester on the tram.
Finally, if you fancy dancing until dawn, you could see out your night at Manchester's secret celebrity haunt Press Club. Located behind a glass door on Deansgate, the Press Club was once a hang-out for Northern hacks fresh from reporting on the news of the day. Now, sporting and TV celebs tend to use it as a base. There's some rather wild karaoke goes on, if you're in the mood!
And if you think that's a lot to cram into 48 hours… well… you'll simply have to come back!