The new NYC-style attraction that proves Manchester is still Britain’s coolest city

In one of the viaduct’s four gardens, created by the charity Castlefield Forum, is a Corten steel sculpture with quotes that distill what makes the area special. The inscription ends thus: “Castlefield is authentic and does not stand still. It highlights what happened before while opening its arms to the future.

The constant state of evolution

The same could very well be said of Manchester, a city in constant evolution. Already attracting nearly 120 million visitors each year, it’s an increasingly touristy metropolis – and not just for lovers of the Beau Jeu. In addition to countless museums and galleries (the Whitworth recently underwent a 15 million pounds and home to the largest collection of ‘outdoor art’ in the UK), it’s the city’s architecture and history that currently attracts visitors from around the world – think Victorian times thermal baths, an industrial-era network of canals and the incredibly charming Old North Quarter. But Manchester is not ready to rest on its laurels.

At the east end of the centre, another new green space, Mayfield Park (mayfieldmanchester.co.uk), is set to open this fall, right next to the already popular Escape to Freight Island, an urban market and food court. The first new public park created in Manchester city center in over 100 years, Mayfield will contain 140 new mature trees, over 120,000 plants and shrubs and a play area with a slide that twists and turns on the River Medlock.

New music venues are also springing up across the city – good news for the thousands of visitors who come to experience Manchester’s world-famous music scene. The city’s oldest concert hall, Band on the Wall (bandonthewall.org), has recently undergone an extension, while the Grade II listed New Century Hall (newcenturymcr.com), with its “disco ceiling”, will reopen in September with a new restaurant area. For more intimate concerts, a new cabaret piano-bar, Sonata (sonatamcr.com), recently opened just off St Ann’s Square.

Food-wise, Manchester is constantly upping its game and new culinary additions include the chic Japanese fine-dining restaurant Kitten (chatonrestaurant.com) in Deansgate Square, and Maray, born in Liverpool (maray.co.uk), which serves spicy Middle Eastern-inspired dishes just off Albert Square. There’s also a new patisserie kitchen and Manchester’s favorite Pollen cafe (pollenbakery.com), in the Kampus district, by the canal.

And now, among all this, you can also punctuate your city break with a walk in a beautiful, peaceful aerial garden. A city in full bloom, indeed.

The Castlefield Viaduct opens today. For more information and to book a visit, go to nationaltrust.org.uk/castlefield-viaduct.


The best new hotels in Manchester

The LAN

Everything is industrial chic at this central hotel, with stripped-down plaster, exposed brickwork, and a lobby floor made entirely of discarded marble chunks. In the restaurant, chef Iain Thomas creates excellent seasonal dishes and desserts. And what about the name? Chosen because it felt “unpretentious and welcoming”, apparently.

Double rooms from £99 per night, breakfast from £4 per additional person (0161 236 8999; thealanhotel.com).

Keith P. Plain