Daytripper: Urbis, Manchester

Globetrotting? I'm mad for it, me
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The Independent Travel

What is it?

What is it?

Overlooking Cathedral Gardens, Manchester's first new public park in 70 years, Urbis rises like the prow of a great glass ship over the redeveloped Millennium Quarter, its role to celebrate city life in the modern world.

The centre opened last June and takes a truly international perspective on urban lifestyle. Educational and recreational, it also seeks to thrill with interactive exhibits and a one-minute sky glide in the Manchester Evening News-sponsored Glass Elevator. With the city acting as backdrop, visitors can then start at the top and explore the four cascading exhibition floors below.

Urbis was set up as a museum about modern life in six of the world's great cities: Los Angeles, Paris, Sao Paolo, Singapore, Tokyo and of course Manchester. Each exhibition floor has a permanent theme – Arrive, Change, Order and Explore – plus an ever-changing sequence of art exhibitions, a full programme of one-off events, a shop and various eateries.

Where is it?

Urbis, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester M4 3BG (0161-907 9099; www.urbis.org.uk).

Something for the children?

Using the magic of blue-screen technology kids can take a ride in Global Cities seeing themselves travelling in the back of a cab through different cities of the world. In the highly popular Control Zone they can also produce their very own photographic ID card. Urbis also offers an ever-changing range of workshops for children aged 7-11 and 11-15 including drama, dance and writing, all with an urban focus.

Something for the adults?

Explore 200 years of Manchester's history in the Time and Place multi-sensory theatres then wander through Urbisville where you can compare life whether it is better or worse to live, work and play in Sao Paolo, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Singapore and Paris.

I'm hungry

You bet. As well as its refreshment area, Urbis offers the ground floor Conservatory Café where award-winning executive chef Robert Kisby has created a range of new dishes and a brand new menu for families. Comfortable sofas and newspapers are also available. The Conservatory is open from Sunday to Friday 9am to 5pm and until 6.30pm on Saturdays. Meanwhile up on the fifth floor, Le Mont restaurant has been garnering impressive reviews in the national press to go with its impressive views. Prices aren't cheap but the meat menu is particularly recommended with Cumbrian lamb at £18.95 and Galloway beef T-bones from £24.95.

Can we buy a souvenir?

The Urbis Shop keeps up the international theme with a wide range of imaginative gifts chosen from around the world, everything from urban gadgets to contemporary jewellery. Books include the latest art, design and city life publications and there's a postcard stall, of course.

How do we get there?

Conveniently located within the city centre, Urbis sits at a hub of transport connections.

By train: Urbis is right next door to Victoria Railway Station which has good conections to main line rail services across the North West. A free city centre bus service operates between Piccadilly Station and Victoria Station.

By tram: Metrolink tram services operate to Victoria Station, offering easy access from all areas of the city.

By car: parking is available at the Arndale car park, the MEN Arena car park on Victoria Street and the Marks & Spencer car park on Deansgate.

Will there be queues?

Urbis is popular, so time your visit well and allow at least 90 minutes before making for the food facilities. Advance booking available.

Opening times: 10am-6pm Sunday to Friday, 10am-8pm Saturday.

Admission: adult £5, child over eight and concessions £3.50, family tickets from £7.20 to £14.40. Season tickets, adult £10, concessions £7.50. Group bookings also available.

Disabled access: full wheelchair access.



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