Once a manorial township, Manchester’s booming textile manufacturing industry during the Industrial Revolution saw it transforming into one of England’s major urban centres, reflected in nicknames such as “Cottonopolis” and “Warehouse City”. After the prosperity brought by the cotton mills, Manchester established itself as the financial centre of the region and has remained one of Northern England’s most thriving metropolises to this day.
The modern city continues to bloom as do the numbers of visitors arriving on cheap flights to Manchester. It is the United Kingdom’s fifth-largest financial centre outside of London and one of the biggest retail areas in terms of sales, a shopping Mecca that boasts the UK’s largest inner city shopping centre, the Arndale Centre.
Culturally, the city is also the equal of any in the country, with thriving arts and music scenes and many galleries and museums. Manchester’s music scene has produced many of the most popular British groups of recent decades such as The Smiths, The Buzzcocks, and Joy Division and The Stone Roses. Excellent music venues are in abundance here also, such as the Manchester Evening News Arena, which is the busiest indoor arena in the world and the largest of its kind in Europe.
Although rainfall may occur at any point during the year, the summer months of July and August are usually warmest and driest, and the winter months of December, January and February the coolest and wettest.
The summer months, from June to September, are the most popular time to visit Manchester, as this is when weather is most favourable and most festivals and other outdoor events take place.
The colder and wetter months of winter are Manchester’s least busy in terms of tourism, which is reflected in travel and accommodation prices and availability. Early autumn and late spring are good off peak periods to visit, as the weather is relatively pleasant and peak season crowds have either yet to arrive or have already left.
Manchester’s city centre is compact enough to mean that most of its attractions are reachable on foot without difficulty. However, the city has an excellent public transport system managed by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE), which includes buses, trams and trains.
The city’s centre is served by a free bus service called Metroshuttle which links major rail stations, car parks, shopping centres and businesses, and proves extremely useful for visitors and locals alike. You can get on these buses at transport terminals at Piccadilly, Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Central and Victoria among other places. Relatively cheap paid bus services in North and South Manchester are operated by First and Stagecoach for those wishing to travel further out.
Manchester’s mass transit tram system is known as Metrolink and covers much of the metropolitan area, including Harbour City, Victoria, Market Street, Piccadilly, Old Trafford and St Peter’s Square.
The Greater Manchester rail network offers services from Manchester Airport to the city centre as well as between locations within the city and from the city to other parts of the country.