Did you know that the famed grape and blackcurrant cordial was first manufactured in Manchester at the beginning of the 20th Century, as a health tonic? Whether you enjoy a drink of Vimto or not, pay a visit to the monument that sits on the sight of its creation (now in the middle of Manchester University’s northern campus). Carved out of wood and recently refurbished with a lick of paint, the statue showcases the first Vimto bottle surrounded by some of its ingredients.
Manchester is filled with interesting alleyways, if you know where to look. You’ll find the most intriguing around St Anne’s Square with three alleyways paying respect to one of the city’s most famous scientists, John Dalton. Dalton Entry and Mulberry Passage showcase decorative signage and a plaque explaining the art works, while Boardman’s Entry is the most photogenic of the three. As you nip down the ginnel, you’ll find yourself beneath a series of metal umbrellas, paying tribute to the daily weather records of the city that Dalton kept for over fifty years.
Outhouse street art
Manchester may not have the immediate association with street art as cities such as Berlin and Reykjavik, but the thriving creative scene in the northern quarter has given way to an explosion of exciting street art that stretches through the area. Walking around the creative hub, you’ll spot gigantic murals and subtle sculptures, but it’s the Outhouse project in Stevenson Square that really grabs the attention. Once used as public toilets, the structures in the middle of the square are now the canvas of an ever-changing street art exhibition, allowing local artists the chance to display their often politically or culturally relevant work.
You might come to think that Manchester has a bit of a thing for public toilets, as one of the city’s most unusual bars lies down an unassuming flight of stairs in a disused public restroom. It may be one of the smallest bars in Manchester (and is definitely one of the scruffiest), but it always seems to be full, mainly thanks to its extensive beer selection, top notch jukebox and the chance to rub shoulders with some of the city’s musical elite. If you’re an Elbow fan, it’s one of Guy Garvey’s favourite Manchester bars.
Underground canal tours
You may not associate Manchester with a vast underground network akin to that of London or New York, but there’s a whole other world just asking to be explored below the city streets. Several different tour groups allow you a glimpse at this subterranean world of Cold War nuclear bunkers, canal systems, planned tube stations and even shops. Tours are currently suspended, but will hopefully resume in 2017.
It may be a little unusual to recommend an old Edwardian swimming baths as one of our Manchester top tips, but the Grade II listed building that lurks behind Manchester Royal Infirmary is one of the city’s finest buildings. Tours are offered throughout the year, allowing you to explore the swimming pools, stalls and additional rooms at your own leisure, but we recommend keeping your eye on the building’s extensive events that it hosts. From gin festivals to beer conventions, vintage wedding fairs to theatrical performances, Victoria Baths is one of the city’s most unique event spaces. Rumour has it that restoration work is underway to reopen one of the swimming pools and the Turkish spa – keep your eyes peeled!