Student city guide: Manchester


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What's the big draw?

Through strong musical roots with the likes of The Smiths, Oasis and New Order all hailing from Manchester, to the resident symphony orchestras, (Hallé and the BBC Philharmonic) the busy and bustling city encompasses an idiosyncratic Mancunian charm. It doesn't take long to realise Manchester offers a sense of cultural diversity unrivalled by other major cities. Whether its music, art or food, every interest is catered for. It's surprisingly easy to shake off the initial disorientation of moving to a large city as lively as Manchester: simple to navigate on foot or by public transport, the campus and city centre are very close to each other.

What’s the night-life like? (gigs, bars, clubs)

Traditional student night-life can become vanilla after countless trips to the same sweaty and insufferable closets, stuffed with hundreds of bewildered freshers. The cocktail of cheap shots, mainstream music and kebabs can become a thoughtless ritual.

Luckily, Manchester offers sanctuary in the form of underground and understated venues, such as Fab Cafe. Cult film and TV is projected on mini screens, cultivating a nostalgic atmosphere amidst high spirits. The music at Fab is one of its defining aspects; revellers can twist and shout to The Beatles and rave to The Prodigy in one evening. The resident DJ effortlessly spans the pop, rock and alternative spectrum seamlessly, which is why a such a diverse mix of tracks can be heard.

For those in search of more of a heavy metal haven, look no further than Satan's Hollow. A broader playlist including dance and indie is found at popular student cavern, 5th Avenue. Factory 251, originally the HQ of the independent record label behind Joy Division and Happy Mondays, is another favourite amongst students. Providing 1p entry on Thursdays and including dance, alternative and house music across three floors, it's definitely student budget-friendly. However, although many city centre clubs flog pricey drinks, surrounding bars including Retro Bar and Font provide cheaper alternatives.

On the flip side, students have been known to frequent the city's classiest bar, Cloud 23, a picturesque top floor bar with a pricetag to match. Sightings of footballers and celebs is enough to entice many to circulate the elite bar scene.

Also, the city oozes grandeur glamour in the form of the Palace Theatre, Opera House and Lowry venues, all offering a plethora of performances from ballet to musicals, with a little known student discount on ticket prices.

Boasting an energetic scene through seizure-inducing lighting, the gay district on Canal Street marries transvestites, flamboyance and pop music. It's packed full of gay clubs including the ever popular Poptastic nightclub, attracting revellers of all orientations. This is one area that will not disappoint when searching for a unique and fun night out.

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Manchester Museum (Naomi Munns)


What can you do in the day? (cafes, restaurants, shops and facilities)

The industrial cityscape of Manchester has long remained the canvas for urban developers, injecting colour and creativity on decrepit buildings. The Northern Quarter is an eclectic hotspot of eye-catching street art, as well as independent cafes and bars, with record shops scattered along Oldham Street for vinyl enthusiasts. Almost Famous, an elusive restaurant in a somewhat hidden location, is positively reviewed and recommended to visit by students (if you manage to find it).

Manchester boasts two major generic shopping complexes, with the city centre's Arndale and the slightly out of town Trafford Centre. However, Affleck's Palace is the home of variety. From independent fashion to novelty condoms, Affleck's is the unique rabbit hole of vintage, kitsch wonderment, residing in an ever convenient city centre location.

Thousands of students walking to lectures spot the alluring gothic architecture of the Manchester Museum. Found on campus, the museum is home to incredible artifacts from Egyptian mummies to prehistoric fossils. Best of all, it offers free entry. The hauntingly beautiful John Ryland's library in Deansgate is also worth a visit, especially if you're a keen historian. Its special collections include medieval manuscripts and pieces from the early European printing revolution.

Where’s the best place to live?

Finding the best area to live is relatively straightforward. If you crave the luxury of living 15-20 minutes walk away from campus and dodging public transport, Victoria Park is your saviour and is close to the Curry Mile (a mile of takeaway shops). If you relish a slightly more student demographic, Fallowfield entices with it's cheaper halls and housing, huge Sainsbury's and an abundance of bars and fast food outlets.