6 reasons to visit Manchester before the year ends

Youthful, diverse, energetic and bursting with character; Manchester is one of the most exciting cities to visit in the UK right now, offering a compelling mix of modern culture, fantastic food, a world-famous music scene set against the backdrop of a rich industrial heritage.

With autumn signalling the start of festival season, read on for reasons why you should visit Manchester before the end of the year.

1. Get your geek on



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If you love a good library, Manchester is home to several that make a perfect literary trail. These include The Portico, Chetham’s – the oldest public library in the English-speaking world – and the extraordinary John Ryland’s Library, home to a collection of rare books spanning five millennia.

The city is also a bona fide UNESCO City of Literature, so it’s no surprise that the city hosts one of the UK’s most innovative and popular literary events, the Manchester Literature Festival (4–20 October 2019).

Not a bibliophile? Not a problem.  Sit back and relax with a film at Everyman Cinema, as the boutique cinema chain has brought its living-room style entertainment offering to the city.

The Portico Library

2. Delve into darkness



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With its Gothic buildings and industrial past, there's an undeniably curious and spooky side to Manchester if you know where to look. Ghosts, graveyards, gritty local history, tattoos, taxidermy, atmospheric eateries and curious shopping await at Haunt Manchester, a 1-stop shop for dark histories and spooky secrets across the city.


3. Then blow away the cobwebs



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You won’t want to miss the autumn colours as you amble through the leafy surroundings of Worsley, 20 minutes from Manchester city centre. Its unique orange-coloured canal – caused by iron oxidisation from former coal mines – combined with the black and white of the nearby Tudor-style buildings is a picture-perfect combination.

Slightly further afield, Dovestone, situated on the foothills of the Peak District National Park, about 40 minutes from the city, offers rugged vistas and opportunities to see local wildlife. Keep an eye out for mountain hares, and if you’re lucky, rare peregrine falcons.


4. Meander around the markets



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The scale and size of Manchester’s annual Christmas markets (from mid-November 2019) really has to be seen to be believed. With more than 300 stalls spread across nine sites around the city, it’s impossible for you to miss the UK’s biggest Yuletide celebration. You’ll need at least a full day to do them justice!

Christmas in Manchester isn’t the same without a photo of the iconic Manchester Santa. Find him sitting proudly outside Manchester Town Hall overlooking the festivities below.

Manchester Christmas Market

5. Discover your new favourite band



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Of course, Manchester’s music heritage is unquestionable and any true fan of The Smiths, Joy Division, The Stone Roses or Oasis will already have a Manchester Music Tour booked for their visit.

However, if new music is your thing Neighbourhood Festival (12 October 2019) is a takeover of some of the city’s best music venues with a line-up of top local and visiting talent. If traditional vibes are more your cup of tea the Manchester Folk Festival (16–20 October 2019) is the one for you.

Salford Lads' Club

6. And there's football, of course



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The football season is in full swing throughout autumn and winter and while it may be an obvious choice of activity, if you’re going to do it, do it properly. 

Book yourself into Hotel Football, get yourself on an official Manchester United or Manchester City stadium tour, eat at Café Football and visit the National Football Museum.

For more ideas and inspiration and to plan your visit now, see Visit Manchester.

Old Trafford
23 Feb 2021(last updated)