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WHEN PEOPLE THINK OF PLACES TO VISIT on the travel bucket list, some obvious locations usually rise to the top: New York, Paris, Tokyo. Rarely, though, does anyone think of Manchester? And that, perhaps, is the best reason to visit. Manchester enjoys the cool and commerce of London, minus the long lines and tourist traps.

Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and once the most significant textile hub in the Western World, Manchester has had a lot going for it for a long time – as the stately architecture attests. But, it’s not all Hogwarts and Harry Potter. Nestled between the Edwardian and Tudor facades and Victorian arcades, one can find another kind of Manchester: a glimpse into its humble roots, where new forms of art, music and food are waiting to be discovered.

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Venture Arts, a progressive visual arts charity in Manchester.

Image: Jeromy Barber

Liverpool may be the birthplace of the Beatles, but Granada Studios in Manchester is where the fab four made their TV debut. Manchester has been – and continues to be – the most significant city in the UK for music: The Hollies, The Smiths, The Stone Roses and Oasis to name a few. Bands like Larkins, Cabbage and Lungs are next in line and perform regularly at unassuming venues in the city’s Northern Quarter, such as Gullivers, Night and Day Café and Band on the Wall. On any given night, the avid music enthusiast will be treated to live music by local singer/songwriters performing original material.

And when it comes to food, Manchester’s got it cinched! The city is absolutely brimming with gastronomical delights from all over the world – many sourcing from local farms and suppliers. In a country where chicken tikka masala is the national dish, you can’t go wrong with curry. Among exceptional Indian restaurants are Akbar, Indique and Ziya. Also of note is Spanish-inspired El Gato Negro, where Chef Simon Shaw’s tapas menu continues to delight foodies and critics alike. Another solid standard is the posh Grand Pacific, with an international menu during the week and mouth-watering, carved-at-the-table roasts on Sundays. The building is a wonder in its own right, as Sir Winston Churchill would regularly make addresses from the grand balcony. Another must-gorge is self-described “cereal cult bar” Black Milk, a tiny space with sinfully delicious milkshakes and cereal-decked bowls of ice cream. Black Milk is unique in that Kellogg’s has created two flavors for them: You’re Amazeballs and Kellogg’s Queen Flakes.

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Black Milk cereal bar in Manchester.

Image: Jeromy Barber

As a city at the height of its cultural power – brimming with vibrant and exciting sights, sounds, flavors and attractions – one thing stands out more than anything in Manchester: the people. Unlike London, where tourist fatigue is evident – and often understandable – Mancunians are a proud, hospitable lot, eager to share the delights of their city with travelers. Warm, friendly and cheeky – they pride themselves on “gift of the gab”. One of the greatest delights is to strike up a conversation with a local in a pub. Can’t think of a better place in which to find an unexpected travel guide.

With so much to do, your itinerary is what you should be focused on, not the logistics of getting there. Fortunately, Singapore Airlines makes it simple, offering direct flights out of Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport – on an Airbus A 350, the most modern passenger aircrafts in the world. Getting there is actually part of the fun!

Follow the adventure of one unassuming couple that was given the choice to swap out their cruise line vacation for an all-expense paid trip to Manchester from Singapore Airlines. Watch their story unfold.

 

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