Manchester, or Madchester as it was referred to in the cultural explosion of the late 80s and early 90s, spins in its own orbit. When you arrive in the capital of the North West, you'll soon begin to see why. The people, the culture and the landscape are what make this the UK's superior second city.
There are hundreds of bars in the city centre and beyond to keep even the most gregarious of drinkers quenched. Prices up north are still comparatively cheaper to our southern counterparts and being a student keeps you further away from the real cost of alcohol. The southern quarter encompasses the student corridor of Oxford Road and includes both student union bars, and a dozen other watering holes with the most notable being Sand Bar and Odder Bar. The Deaf Institute, a bar and eatery by day and a music/club venue by night covers three floors and is well worth a visit. There are countless cheap club nights at venues across the city and this is before you consider the sprawl that incorporates the student hubs of Fallowfield and Withington, which both offer thriving nightlife.
The Trafford Centre is one of the largest shopping centres in the UK and was the first in the UK to be based on the American mall design. The Arndale Centre on Market Street, Selfridges and the Triangle Shopping Centre in Exchange Square make up the nucleus of the city centre shopping areas, with the alternative Northern Quarter offering the more eccentric stores and cafes, including The Soup Kitchen, Ryan Vintage and Affleck’s Palace.
For vegetarians there's the Fuel Café in Withington, fast becoming a haven for those in the know for good quality comfort food. For an upmarket experience, Gaucho Steak House on Deansgate is famous for its Argentine grilled classics and Bem Brazil on Lever Street is gaining a reputation for authentic Latin American cuisine. Last but by no means least are the bright lights of Rusholme’s Curry Mile. A ceremonial stretch of road adorned on either side with take-outs, restaurants, sweet houses, fast-food huts and shisha bars, all serving up Asian and Middle Eastern delights until the early hours.
Being the biggest indoor arena in Europe with over 20,000 seats, the MEN Arena is a space big enough to stage the homecoming of any great Manchester band. Dry Bar on Oldham Street offers some stickier floors and obscurer acts and gigs in old Salfordian churches and summer festivals add to the catalogue of live music. The best nights are last minute, word of mouth affairs so keep your eyes peeled and your ears to the ground.
Theatre is buzzing in Manchester, with the Royal Exchange in the city centre, Quay Street's Opera House and the Contact Theatre on Oxford Road offering experimental shows. Admission is free at both the Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery, with contemporary exhibitions at the Cornerhouse on Oxford Road. The glass-plated Urbis in Cathedral Gardens is set to become the National Football Museum in 2012.
Fallowfield is Manchester's student epicentre with various halls of residence being situated here. Brimming with excitable first years, it’s not ideal for the study-conscious student, but there is plenty to do. A good room in a decent house will cost about £85 a week including bills. The leafy Victoria Park and the quieter Withington are also student friendly areas with good student accommodation.
'Manchester… the belly and guts of the nation,' said George Orwell. With something to cater for every niche, it really is one of the most vibrant cities in the UK, making it easy to make friends and enjoy city life.
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