The football season may be resting but warm summer days mean cricket and hours on the terraces at Old Trafford cricket ground, home of Lancashire County Cricket Club. Camp out in the shade of the pavilion for days during an international test match, or catch a high-speed twenty20 evening game under the floodlights. With the football over for the summer, relive the game’s drama with a tour of Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, the so-called ‘Theatre of Dreams’. Follow United legends’ footsteps through the players’ tunnel and into the changing rooms and imagine the tension in the manager’s dug-out. Admire contemporary stadium architecture – velodromes, gyms and arenas – condensed in Sportcity to the east of the city centre. It is the new home of Manchester City and hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games village.
DJs play free at the Festival Pavilion, which stands like a giant tepee in Albert Square during July’s Manchester International Festival. The lofty Town Hall becomes a hive of family activity with kids’ performers and circus acts. Earlier in May, the FutureEverything digital festival brings technology to town with leftfield arts and electronic music. Flamboyant carnival floats contrast with a silent candlelit vigil during August’s huge gay event, Manchester Pride.
Beer gardens fill up Manchester’s sleepy canalside corners during warm summer evenings. After-work crowds gather for barbeques and beers on the patio at Dukes 92 on the Rochdale Canal. The White Lion is a traditional British pub overlooking the ruins of the Castlefield Roman fort. Canal Street draws the gay community over its footbridges to waterfront bars – on hot days Eden serves drinks on a barge. For a drink while taking in some culture, try The Lowry arts centre’s terraces at Salford Quays. Back in the city centre,the green-tiled, grade II-listed Peveril of the Peak pub serves casks of real ale and is rumoured to be haunted.
Hop on the Metrolink tram to Heaton Park just north of the city centre for open-air performances of Shakespeare. The walled garden opens its gates for fragrant horticultural fairs and summer bedding plants are on sale in the old kitchen gardens. For a true metropolitan green space head to Whitworth Park on Oxford Road and join city dwellers, academics and dog walkers on its tree-lined walkways. Traverse Manchester by following the Rochdale Canal, which you can pick up near Piccadilly Station. Amble along the towpath past the sleepy locks, low bridges and barges.
The height of summer draws the best specialist traders to the city centre. Smokey cheeses, game and fish sell at the Real Food Market in Piccadilly Gardens all summer long and St Ann’s Square launches new titles in July’s Book Market. Buy summer cut flowers when blooms at the Piccadilly Gardens Flower Market are at their best. The rainbow-coloured stalls are bursting with clothing and jewellery in the Gay Village enclave during the Pride Market in August.
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