Britain's first industrial city, the original modern city, birthplace of the UK's first inter-city railway, and a sports crazy one at that. In the last decade, Manchester has become a 'must-visit' city for tourists and delegates alike. The lure of its footballing sides, history, shopping and culture brings millions of people to its centre. It has hosted prestigious conferences with Manchester Central firmly established as among the finest conference venues in the world.
The city of Manchester has Roman roots, originally known as Mamucium when the Roman fort was built on a sandstone bluff near the Medlock and Irwell rivers in 79 AD. By the 1750s, it was a market town set on the banks of the Irk and Irwell rivers. Within the next hundred years, it became Britain's first industrial city. The city's first cotton mill opened in 1780, it also became the birthplace of the modern labour movement, with the Free Trade Hall opening on the site of the Peterloo Massacre (on St. Peter's Fields). By the 20th century, engineering supplanted cotton as among the city's main industries. The first English Ford cars were built in Trafford Park - also home to at one time, mighty engineering concerns like Metropolitan Vickers. The city's reputation in academia would expand; the University of Manchester being home to the world's very first digital computer, and the very place where the atom was first split.
Its reputation, economicially and culturally has seen Manchester become among Britain's most popular conference venues. The city centre's compact enough to explore on foot, with such delights including MoSI, the Manchester Art Gallery, and the National Football Museum. Shoppers are well catered for thanks to Manchester Arndale centre, Affleck's Palace and occasional Street Markets. Christmas sees the city at play with one of Europe's biggest Christmas Markets. The Palace Theatre, Opera House and Phones4U Arena have world class live productions. Historical buildings well worth visiting include the John Rylands University Library and Liverpool Road Station (part of the MoSI complex). The city continues to thrive with the First Street Cultural Centre under way, incorporating the Library Theatre and Cornerhouse Cinema. Close to Deansgate station and Manchester Central, it is close to the site of The Haçienda. The development includes a four star hotel, bars and restaurants, student accommodation. Another worthy addition to the city's conference venues? Very likely.
A little further afield from the city centre is Sportcity, a beneficiary of the XVII Commonwealth Games which took place in 2002. This includes the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City Football Club, the National Cycling Centre, Tennis Centre, and the Regional Athletics Arena. In another direction, Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United Football Club and, not too far away, the newly revamped Old Trafford of Lancashire County Cricket Club. Belle Vue, a few miles east is set to gain a new speedway and greyhound stadium. On the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal, is MediaCityUK, on the Salford side of the Ship Canal. A little further afield on the opposite side, is Trafford Park, home of the Intu Trafford Centre shopping mall. Other attractions include the Imperial War Museum North and the Chill Factor snowdome.
Whether inside or outside Manchester city centre, there is no shortage of places to visit, plus a wealth of conference venues and hotels. The rest of Greater Manchester's a short drive, train, bus or Metrolink tram ride away. Why not relax in Dunham Massey, Heaton Park or Lyme Park? All three are a short drive away with Heaton Park served by frequent buses and trams from the city centre. Enjoy black puddings and ride on steam trains in Bury? The 135 bus and the tram takes care of that! Or visit historic market halls in Stockport or Ashton-under-Lyne? Both towns a short bus or train ride away, or a quick drive. Even take a trip to Blackpool - just over an hour by train!
Manchester city centre is well connected by bus, rail, air and tram. By rail, London Euston is 2 hours 10 minutes away from Manchester Piccadilly station, whereas Metrolink and bus services offer outstanding connections with the city centre. Manchester Airport, a short bus or train ride away, has a wealth of domestic and international flights, including regular scheduled services to London Heathrow, Belfast, Dublin and the Isle of Man.
Whether you wish to be entertained or entertain your delegates, ignore Manchester at your peril. With a wide choice of conference venues in splendid urban and semi-rural surroundings, there's something for everyone. Not only in the centre of Manchester, but also in nearby Salford for MediaCityUK, Trafford Park and a number of towns which make up its immediate surroundings. They too have a number of conference venues which are worth considering.