Saturday, 25 September 2004

Review: Salford Quays, Manchester

Barely 15 minutes by tram or road from the centre of Manchester (which itself is barely 3 hours from Peterborough), the Salford Quays have seen a huge transition in keeping with the massive reconstruction of Manchester’s cityscape in the past decade. Originally the Manchester Ship Canal was a hive of activity with boats in and out…

The waterside location is becoming a cultural magnet for the Northwest, boasting two modern architectural masterpieces, both enigmatic metallic structures rising from the water’s edge.

The stunning Lowry, all nautical themed stainless steel angles outside, and bright curvaceous colours inside, houses two impressive theatres - including The Lyric which boasts the largest stage outside of London - offering high class ballet and theatre productions.

With numerous bars and a chic modern restaurant, you almost forget that the Michael Willford designed building is home to the biggest public collection of L S Lowry’s work.

A short walk across the Lowry Footbridge and no less stunning is the Imperial War Museum North, designed by Daniel Liebeskind who will re-design the Ground Zero site in New York. A combined theme of architecture and entertaining exhibitions, the displays are modern and emotive, including a vast multimedia display every hour, well worth seeing (maybe a little too loud for smaller children). Well worth the entrance fee, which being a museum is free.

After some culture, retail junkies can check out The Lowry Outlet Mall for a few big name bargains from Marks & Spencer, Whistles, Nike Factory Outlet and Karen Millen among others.

Then you could visit Manchester United's Red Cinema or can eat at Pizza Express (always good value) before chilling out in the cool retro Lime bar.

Well worth a visit, even for non-serious football fans, is the Manchester United tour. While the museum may only be for serious fans, the hour-long tour of the famous ground takes you behind the scenes, into the dressing rooms and boardrooms of the renowned sporting institution, finishing up with a trot down the players tunnel.

Literally down the road Lancashire County Cricket Club offers summer sport fans the chance to watch top-class county and international cricket from the comfort of your own hotel room balcony at the 68-room Old Trafford Lodge hotel, plus in recent summers they have had big name live music on show, this summer R.E.M. and Feeder are amongst the performers.

Across the road from Manchester United’s ground (it is that close) The Golden Tulip hotel offers a good standard of comfort and the excellent Watersreach Restaurant, with its stylish décor and a menu to match.

Impressively all the main attractions and hotels mentioned are situated within one square mile, so you may forget Manchester city centre is only a short Metro ride away. This could be the perfect base to explore the North-west, but there’s plenty of exploring to be done amongst this cultural goldmine.


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