Lancashire and the Peaks: Places to Explore

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Photo: © Deniskelly | Dreamstime.com

Manchester

Today Manchester's center hums with the vibe of cutting-edge popular music and a swank café culture. The city's once-grim industrial landscape, redeveloped since the late 1980s, includes tidied-up canals, cotton mills transformed into loft apartments, and stylish contemporary architecture that has pushed the skyline ever higher. Beetham Tower, the ninth-tallest building in Britain (and the tallest outside London), can't be overlooked. Bridgewater Hall and the Lowry, as well as the Imperial War Museum North, are outstanding cultural facilities. Sure, it still rains here, but the rain-soaked streets are part of the city's charm, in a bleak, northern kind of way.

The now-defunct Haçienda Club marketed New Order to the world, and Manchester became the clubbing capital of England. Joy Division, the Smiths, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and Oasis rose to the top of the charts. The extraordinary success of the Manchester United football club (which now faces a stiff challenge from its newly rich neighbor, Manchester City, owing to a stupendous injection of cash from its oil-rich Middle Eastern owners) has kept the eyes of sports fans fixed firmly on Manchester.

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