John Rylands Library – A gothic sandstone building on Deansgate recently juxtaposed with a clever modern visitor centre. This fabulous legacy of Cottonopolis was commissioned by Cuban-born Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her philanthropist textile manufacturer husband. There’s more about Manchester’s first multi-millionaire and some fascinating changing exhibitions in the cathedral-like public reading rooms.
Royal Northern College of Music – The only UK conservatoire to be a centre for excellence in teaching and learning, but you can still hear the talented students play for free! Orchestral performances take place in the late-60s concert hall, while the RNCM’s best-kept secret is their Wednesday-lunchtime recitals by soloists and smaller ensembles in the calming and charming setting of St Ann’s Church.
Heaton Park – Manchester’s biggest green space, with lovely views both back over town and out to the Pennines. There’s plenty to do whatever your age: a well-equipped children’s playground; rowing boats, woodland walks and cycle paths; even a grand 18th-century mansion and farm. It’s also home to beekeepers, astronomers, trolley-bus enthusiasts and the Commonwealth Bowling Club.
City Airport – Formerly known as Barton Aerodrome, this was the UK’s first purpose-built municipal airport and it’s still in action today. Sit in the beer garden and watch small planes bump excitedly along the grassy runway as they take off and land, and climb up the Art Deco control tower that dates from 1933.
Whitworth Art Gallery – There’s always something worth seeing at this gallery, part of Manchester University; not least the soon-to-be developed building and its parkside location. Recent highlights have been the Subversive Spaces surrealism show, the American Scene prints exhibition and Walls Are Talking, and the varied event programme includes related talks held in the “secret” lecture theatre.
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