Cool Things to do in Manchester

by Kelly on April 2, 2014

River Tame Valley in the Shadow
Creative Commons License photo credit: Smabs Sputzer

Manchester is one of the hippest cities in the UK. Located up north, noted for its outgoing and friendly populace, and home to a thriving music and arts scene, it’s the city that gave us The Smiths, Oasis, The Hacienda and much, much more. If you’re looking to explore the cooler side of the city, we’ve put together a guide to the must-see sights for anyone interested in Manchester’s alternative scene.

Whether you’re there for a week or 24 hours, try to pack in at least some of these to get a flavour of what Manchester’s all about.

Manchester Music

It’s hard to avoid music in Manchester. There are buzzing venues all over town, and it’s easy to discover new bands you love, as well as places where you can celebrate classic bands that the city’s thrown our way over the years – from the Stone Roses to The Fall and beyond. Check out this great guide to the essentials over at the Choice Hotels blog for a rundown of some off-the-beaten track musical haunts you’ll definitely want to see, including the Night & Day and the Deaf Institute.

Want to get to know the real Manchester? Then head along to The People’s History Musuem. It reopened in 2010 after a £12.5 million development, and it’s dedicated to telling a 200-year tale of British democracy. There’s interactive exhibits bring political history to life and it’s some story as this is the city that was the birthplace of socialism, universal suffrage and it’s where Marx and Engels penned their Communist Manifesto. If all that political excitement whets your appetite, the museum also home to a great, sunny riverside café too.

If culture’s what you’re after, make a beeline for Oxford Road, home to so many galleries, museums and theatres that locals talk of it as Manchester’s Cultural Corridor. There’s the Cornerhouse, an acclaimed contemporary art complex, and at the other of the road check out the Whitworth Art Gallery. In between you’ll find theatres, the Manchester Museum and the University of Manchester’s campus.

St Peter's Square in Manchester, UK
Creative Commons License photo credit: Alex Pepperhill

Described as “the biggest thing to happen to clubbing in Manchester this decade”, The Warehouse Project is an annual party like no other. Taking place in underground venues and secret locations, and enticing some of the coolest DJs on the planet along to spin the tunes, it takes place for a full three months, from September to New Year’s Day. So remember to pack some aspirin…

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Keep costs down on holiday by playing games at the beach or around the pool rather than spending money on tourist attractions. Games are a great way to engage your children; they learn new skills and you all bond closer as a family. Discover the best games your family can play on holiday, and ensure you get the best possible deal by booking online through Directline.

Beach Tennis

Beach tennis is great for older kids to play with their families. They will learn important hand-eye coordination skills while enjoying themselves. Standing in shallow water at the beach is a good idea because it helps to keep you cool during hot summer days. Be sure to wear clothing to protect skin from the sun and remember to top up sun lotion every few hours. Beach tennis is also a game that parents can join in with, or let siblings have their own bonding time by playing one on one.

Volleyball

This is a great active game that ensures your family gets enough exercise while on holiday. It can be played both in the pool or on the beach, and is super cheap because it only requires the purchase of one ball. This game is great for larger families because any number of people can play. Encourage your kids to make friends by inviting other nearby families to join in. This fun sport also encourages teamwork and a healthy appetite for competition.

Card Games

Remember to take a pack of playing cards on your summer holiday- you won’t regret it! Cards are handy because they can fit in a small bag or in your pocket, and can be kept with you at all times for any unplanned moments of boredom. If your flight is delayed, bring out the cards at the airport to keep your kids from getting impatient. Card games can also be played during the flight to make time pass faster, at restaurants while you wait for your meals to arrive, or in your hotel room in between other activities. Card games are great for growing kids because they often involve maths or tactical thinking, so they are a brilliant educational tool for children.

Pencil and Paper

You cannot beat classic games played simply using pencil and paper. Teach your children games such as hangman, noughts and crosses, or Pictionary, for endless amounts of fun without ever spending a penny. Remember to take plenty of pencils and paper with you to the beach or pool so that your family can play in between taking dips in the water.

Scrabble

This classic game is great for families because it encourages learning, is fun, and can include any number of players. You can find this game in travel versions so you don’t need to transport a hefty board game in your suitcase. If your kids are tech-savvy, you could even download a free version of Scrabble on your iPad or tablet computer to play poolside or in your hotel room.

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Rooftop Bars in Singapore

by Kelly on January 7, 2014

Klunkerkranich - Roof Top - Berlin Neukölln

Singapore is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world, with nightlife to suit all types of travelers. From party-hard pool bars to relaxed lounges, Singapore is filled with bars that take advantage of the beautiful skyline and moderate climate of the city. While there are hundreds of rooftop bars in Singapore, there are a few that stand apart from their peers as being particularly memorable.

Helipad
Visible from anywhere in the city, the bright yellow “H” emblazoned on Helipad’s rooftop bar is not a real helipad, but is actually a decorative feature made of back-lit seats. Helipad is a trendy rooftop bar next to the Singapore river where patrons are treated to tropical cocktails and a relaxing atmosphere. Seating at Helipad is particularly comfortable, and the bar patio offers an unrestricted view across the river at the downtown skyline. Cocktails at Helipad tend to be on the pricey side, but weekday happy hours from 6PM-9PM feature cheap beer, cheap wine, and a great crowd.

Kinki Rooftop Bar
While its name might suggest something a bit “risque”, Kinki is actually one of the most tourist friendly bars in Singapore. For business travelers using their miles from a KrisFlyer credit card, Kinki has a wide selection of drinks and dishes that won’t break the bank. Housed outside a Japanese restaurant, Kinki melds the various Asian influences in the region into a truly international nightclub. The decor is very Japanese, but menu items include dishes from all over Asia, and cocktails run the gamut from traditional to exotic. Kinki is located in the business district, but crowds are normally manageable until around 1AM when the rooftop bar is totally packed.

Lantern
For guests who want a more relaxing ambiance, The Fullerton Bay Hotel is home to one of the most luxurious yet subdued bars in Singapore. Comfortable seating winds its way around a massive rooftop swimming pool, while bartenders circulate among the tables with fantastic cocktails. Lantern is reminiscent of Milanese clubs in its simple elegance, and it is absolutely worth the price of admission.

Zsofi Tapas Bar
If there is one thing that Singapore has in spades it is good dining options. The Zsofi Tapas Bar is a beautiful split-level rooftop bar a few minutes out of the city center, and its patrons come back weekly for the incredible deals on Tapas. The cocktails and wine offerings are top-notch, but Zsofi sets itself apart from other rooftop bars with a free Tapas dish with every drink. Melt into the cushioned leather chairs as waiters bring dish after dish, and soak in the radiance of the Singapore night while enjoying Mediterranean inspired dishes from a master chef.

Breeze
The subdued decor and dimmed lighting of Breeze add to the romantic atmosphere of this casual rooftop bar in a secluded downtown district. Located astride a 1924 art deco coffeehouse, Breeze attracts a very different crowd than the typical Singapore nightclub. Couples will love the romantic seating, private hot-tubs, and live music, and anyone can appreciate the cheap cocktails and incredible wine selection.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Andreas Lehner 2013

Have you been to Singapore?

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