A sprawling city in the north west of England, Manchester became famous in the late Eighties for its flourishing independent music scene and nightlife. Its somewhat grim industrial past has been largely whitewashed in favour of an upbeat, fashionable atmosphere. The city is the home of two of England's biggest football clubs, two large universities and the site of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Manchester also boasts a very liberal attitude towards its culturally and sexually diverse community. Its vibrant gay and lesbian scene culminates in the massive, annual Pride event, a 12 day festival celebrating tolerance and acceptance with a colourful parade attracting visitors of all kinds. The Chinatown and Curry Mile areas of the city display its cosmopolitan population, while there are numerous theatre and concert venues including the MEN Arena, one of the biggest in Europe, in addition to world class shopping centres.
There is masses of accommodation in Manchester, ranging from funky boutique hotels making the most of the city's historic architecture to modern, international hotel chains with deluxe facilities and health clubs. Apartments are becoming popular for the independent visitor in the trendy Northern Quarter. Aim for city centre accommodation to be near the major tourist attractions.
Manchester has a large international airport serving hundreds of locations worldwide. It is also easily reached by train to Victoria and Piccadilly stations and by bus to Chorlton Street Coach Station from most of the UK's major cities. While major attractions are easily reached on foot, the city also has comprehensive bus, tram and train services.