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Sunday, 16 June, 2002, 19:49 GMT 20:49 UK

Guide to Manchester

Manchester was a relatively little-known small northern England town which sprang to worldwide prominence in the 18th century as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

Since then, it has been at the forefront of sport and culture, and will once again take to the global stage as host city for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

From sport to music, its thriving arts scene to its busy business district, Manchester is a truly international city.

For those who live, work or visit, it has a fascinating past and an exciting future.


MUSIC

Profile: Manchester has enjoyed a thriving rock and pop music scene since the 1960s and that continues through to the present day. Jazz and dance music are also hugely popular.

Well-known bands
1960s: Herman's Hermits, The Hollies
1970s: The Buzzcocks, The Fall, Joy Division
1980s: New Order, The Smiths, Simply Red, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays
1990s: Oasis, The Charlatans, Take That, The Verve

Classical: Bridgewater Hall is home of the Hallé Orchestra, Britain's oldest professional symphony orchestra.

Live venues: From concert halls and the G-MEX and MEN arenas to smaller more intimate surroundings there is no shortage of live music every night of the week.

Did you know? Manchester led the way in dance music in the late 1980s and early 90s. The city spawned the 'Madchester' dance phenomenon which inspired the 2002 film 24-Hour Party People.


GOING OUT

Bars: More than 450 licensed bars and restaurants in the city centre. Night-time economy in city centre is valued at £100m.

Places to go: Printworks complex boasts cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs. Deansgate Locks is a canalside boulevard of bars, while cafe society meets in the Gay Village around Canal Street.

Food: Huge variety of cuisine, including Chinatown restuarants and the so-called 'Curry Mile' in Rusholme.

Did you know? Every day, a total of more than 500,000 meals are eaten at more than 5,000 venues across the city.


TOURISM

Visitors: Attracts 3.5 million tourists a year, who spend an estimated total of £463m. The UK's most popular tourist destination after London and Edinburgh.

Accommodation: There are over 2,000 hotels and bed and breakfasts in and around Manchester, not forgetting the city's youth hostel.

Neighbouring attractions: Within an hour's drive are three major national parks (the Lake District, the Peak District, and the Snowdonia National Park).

Getting away from it all:Also within an hour's drive are the seaside towns of the Fylde coast of Lancashire (Blackpool, Lytham St Annes, Southport, Morecambe, Fleetwood), as well as the great cities of Lancaster, York, Chester and Liverpool.

Did you know? Manchester has a reputataion for bad weather - according to some it always rains. But locals claim this is just a myth, and they are backed by statistics which show the city has average rainfall for the UK.


PEOPLE

Population: Some 2.6 million people live within Manchester's boundaries, and a total of 11 million are said to be within 50 miles of the city.

Manchester around the globe
There are 36 places in the world called Manchester
31 of them are in the USA
Others are in Bolivia, Canada, Jamaica and Surinam
In Germany and Sweden, corduroy is called Manchester cloth

Business: 'The Times' newspaper places 80 of its top 100 companies in the city and over 60 foreign and international banks operate from there.

Showbusiness: More theatres than any other city outside London and two major television companies. Coronation Street, the world's longest running soap opera is filmed there.

Students: Nearly 50,000 studying higher education at several colleges and three universities.

Did you know? More than 90 world airlines fly into Manchester Airport from 165 destinations worldwide. In 1993 over 13 million people passed through the airport terminal, and that figure is soon expected to surpass 22 million.


SPORT

Football: Home of one of the world's best-known football teams, Manchester United. Rivals Manchester City have regained their place in the Premiership and move into the new Commonwealth Stadium next year.

Cricket & rugby: Lancashire County Cricket Club, based at Old Trafford, was formed in 1864 and has a rich and successful history. Sale and Salford City Reds are the leading rugby union and league sides in the area.

Participation: There are 80 golf courses in Greater Manchester as well as karting tracks, watersport venues, leisure centres, bowling alleys and skating rinks.

Did you know? When Manchester United's Old Trafford ground was bombed during World War II they had to play at City's Maine Road ground - and chalked up their record attendance there.


LANDMARKS

Architecture:The city also has many fine listed buildings including the spectacular Victorian Gothic Town Hall and magnificent cathedral.

Museums and galleries: Manchester Art Gallery back open after £35m transformation. Urbis, new glass-covered museum of the modern city. Other attractions include The Lowry and Imperial War Museum of the North.

Shopping: Massive glass-fronted Marks & Spencer store being joined by Selfridges and Harvey Nichols next door. More than 700 shops in the city centre, with designer names including Armani and Hugo Boss.

Did you know? Within the greater region are 170 tourist attractions including some 34 historic houses, country parks, moors, plains, hills and eight theme parks.


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