city slicker Manchester

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The Independent Culture
October in Manchester sees rain, Boddingtons Manchester festival, more rain, thousands of new faces at the city's three universities, even more rain and the aftermath of the City-Utd derby

By 'eck it's beery: Best-known for Boddingtons, one of the sponsors of the eponymous festival which this year features Vic and Bob, Alexei Sayle, Jenny Eclair and Richard Morton among hundreds of others, all poised to take part in the comedy, music, theatre, arts and culture planned for the festival fortnight. However, you would be a fool to miss out on the marvellous selection of locally produced real ales. Holts' pubs are universally recommended (try the Mild - a hoppy and fruity combination). Alternatively, any of the other local breweries with tied houses are well worth a sip. The best include: Hyde's, John Willie Lees, Robinsons and Oaks - famous for its Wobbly Bob, Double Dagger and Humbug (only available between November and January).

When Saturday comes: Footballing thespians are spoilt for choice as the theatre of dreams at Old Trafford continues to sparkle with the likes of Giggs, Cantona and Cole. Farce, comedy and tragedy are more the order of the day over at Maine Road under Alan Ball, despite the valiant efforts of German folk hero Uwe Rossler, whose grandfather - according to the T-shirts - bombed Old Trafford during the war. Football will continue to be high on the agenda as Manchester is one of the host cities for Euro96, but if football isn't your fancy, you can peddle to the Velodrome - Britain's only indoor cycling stadium. With the Nynex Arena - the largest in Europe - and home to the basketball team, Manchester Giants, the city is poised to bring even more sporting events to life as it bids for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Food for thought: Sample the gastronomic delights of cuisine from more than 20 different nations. Manchester's China Town - reputedly the largest outside London - offers particular delights including Kai's (last orders at 4.30am) and Yang Sing, with its luxurious decor and marinated pigeon. True foodies can enjoy the highly recommended Puddings Club or Starters Society at the Market restaurant. Those in a Cafe Society frame of mind can enjoy (weather permitting) a cappucino al fresco at Dimitri's, Grinch, Manto's or the Canal Cafe Bar. The Atlas bar is also a junction off the Information Superhighway, so you can enjoy good food, wine and beer as you surf the 'Net.

University of life: Manchester boasts the biggest student population outside London. Integral to the local economy, the students help support Manchester's fabulous selection of 30 different curry houses in Rusholme. Other recipients of the Mancunian grant cheque include the Flea and Firkin pub, which is said to shift more pints than any other pub in Manchester, and Afflecks Palace, with its bargain rails of de rigueur student clothing.

When nightime falls: Manchester's nightclub scene is so huge it leaves you dizzy. Drawing dance-crazy clubbers from all over the country, the city offers a huge range of music and venues. When it's all over, head for the 24-hour supermarket along Oxford Road.

Where have all the boot boys gone?: Thirtysomethings will fondly recall the days of gobbing to the likes of the Buzzcocks and Slaughter and the Dogs. Today's hipsters know the city more for Oasis, the Stone Roses and the Charlatans. Latest in the long line include Northern Uproar and watch out for Mr Splendid.

Village people: The pink pound is certainly able to flex its muscles in this city. Start with a coffee at Metz (spot the Barrymore), followed by a few beers at Mantos and dance the night away at Cruise, before Village Cars whisk you home. The Village hosts the annual Mardi Gras - the largest gay street festival in the country.

CHARLOTTE BATRA

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