Sport, shopping and fine dining, Manchester has it all

The Mancunian football rivalries may be bitter, but what unites football fans throughout Manchester is their passion. It’s a sport that defines the city, and when match day comes, you can sense the excitement everywhere. And while sport is synonymous with Manchester, its shopping is equally impressive. That’s what I learned on a whirlwind media trip to Manchester where we marvelled at the sights and sounds of Old Trafford, the Northern District and two of Manchester’s top eateries. If you and your partner are thinking of booking a weekend away, Manchester won’t disappoint.

Manchester United

English footballing legend Bobby Charlton nicknamed Old Trafford “The Theatre of Dreams”, though for teams visiting the home of Manchester United, it’s more likely the stuff of nightmares.

The Reds have been the dominant team of the modern era. You can appreciate the splendour of the 76,000-capacity stadium through a tour and museum visit, but it’s on match days that the hallowed ground truly comes to life.

Manchester City

Manchester City are sometimes called the “other” Manchester club – though don’t say that to a City fan, for they have a history and a heritage every bit as proud as their more glamorous rivals United. Every home game almost 50,000 supporters cram into the City of Manchester Stadium, into which the club moved in 2003 following the Commonwealth Games.

The stadium tour and museum chart some of the club’s ups and downs – there have been many – while match days provide the opportunity to see world-class talent in the flesh.

Arts and culture

Manchester’s landmark galleries and museums like Daniel Libeskind’s Imperial War Museum North, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Manchester Art Gallery give you the chance to view fantastic permanent and touring exhibitions. If you like to make a night of it, take in a show at the Royal Exchange, the Lowry or one of many other theatrical and concert venues. See for yourself why Manchester’s taking centre stage.

Where to stay

The Crowne Plaza Manchester City Centre is the hottest new hotel to open in the city in 2008. It is perfectly situated in the heart of Manchester in the trendy Northern Quarter. Victoria and Piccadilly stations and Shudehill tram and bus interchange are all within a short walking distance of this stunning new city centre hotel.

Top tips

Want to look fabulous without spending a small fortune? Market Street is good for spotting chic and cheap(er ) bargains in places like Primark, Schuh, Debenhams and H&M.

You have to stop shopping sometime, even if it’s just for a bite to eat. Brush shoulders with the celebs in the elegant and tasty Malmaison Brassierie or the Livingroom restaurant and be amazed at the excellent prices for equally delightful cuisine.

Board a bus or grab a taxi and head out of town, a short hop east, to the glorious Trafford Centre: 230 stores and 47 restaurants under one roof.

How to get there

BMI Baby fly from Ireland West Airport Knock six days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday ). To book log onto www.bmibaby.com or contact your local travel agent. Flights start from €17.99 one way including taxes and charges. For excellent accommodation in a trendy, tastefully decorated, newly opened city centre hotel check out the Crowne Plaza Manchester City Centre hotel. To view hotel facilities and for reservations log onto www.cpmanchester.com

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