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City Guides

There’s a forgotten Japanese Garden hidden in the hills of a popular Lancashire walking spot

This is stunning!

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tgrivington/Instagram

There’s a beautiful and tranquil Japanese Lake hidden in one of Lancashire’s top walking spots.

If you’ve ever ventured up Rivington Pike you’ll know just how busy that place gets, especially if the sun makes an appearance! 

Tucked away around halfway up the path to the peak is one of Britain’s best lost gardens (according to Countryfile in 2014).  

The Japanese Lake is part of the Rivington Terraced Gardens built by the founder of the former Lever Brothers company – now known as Unilever – Lord Leverhulme, inspired by one of his trips to Japan. 

Constructed between 1905 and 1925, The Terraced Gardens were originally filled with Japanese tea houses, lanterns, and exotic plants, and had two gorgeous waterfalls. 

In the unexpected tranquil oasis, only the lake and stone bases of the tea houses remain, but it is still a gorgeous stop on a walk! 

The Gardens are part of 45 acres of hillside between Rivington Pike and Rivington Hall Barn, which has a number of interesting features. 

You’ll find the Pigeon Tower – once home to Lady Leverhulme’s sewing and music room on the top floor. The second and third floor housed dovecotes. 

You’ll also find Lever Bridge at the northern end of Rivington Terraced Gardens, crossing Roynton Lane – the main pathway through the gardens. 

The bridge is based on one Lever saw on a trip to Nigeria. It’s known as the Seven Arch Bridge with one large arch crossed by six smaller ones. 

The Rivington Terraced Gardens have been open throughout the pandemic, however staff have called for the public to take their litter home, including dog waste bags, or to use the bins provided in all the car parks. 

The workers point out that by dropping litter in the middle of a pandemic you are putting staff and volunteers at risk who have to pick it up. 

There are three main entrances to the gardens; Belmont Road, another at the former Bolton Lodge and the third at the north-west corner of the gardens with a path leading across the meadow from Rivington Hall. 

The main way to the gardens is via Roynton Lane, which runs through the middle of the site. 

The garden is split into two distinct areas, the eastern area is more formal with lawns and lakes and contains vegetation from ornamental planting, including species such as Berbeis.

The other side is slightly more steep with trees such as Chestnut and Beech. Between the two areas is a terrace bath with irregularly-shaped flags. 

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City Guides

CITY GUIDE: All the best festive markets and events across Manchester this Christmas

‘Tis the season to be in Manchester…

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@ramonamcr & @barhutte / Instagram

Christmas is nearly here and, luckily for us lot, Manchester is one of the best places to be (outside of Lapland, obviously) throughout the festive period.

There’s going to be a ton of fun and Christmassy things to do over the next couple of months so, just to help you plan and organise your Christmas celebrations accordingly, we’ve compiled a list of some of the must-do events happening across the city.

Here’s what’s on…

Escape to Freight Island

Winter Island at Escape to Freight Island

Earlier this month, it was announced that the popular open-air food hall Escape to Freight Island will be transformed into Winter Island, the UK’s largest fully-heated outdoor winter market.

Winter Island will boast a whole array of festivities including a Christmas Tree Forest, Christmas films nights, karaoke and a bonfire night gathering. There will also be an impressive line-up of new festive traders and stalls offering food and drink, including Great North Pie Co., a bratwurst grill, traditional hog roast, a mulled wine and hot cider hut, local chocolatiers and artisanal cheese stalls.

There will also be a huge firework display on the opening night and a whole line-up of live entertainment courtesy of the Untold Orchestra and a number of other local musicians and DJs.

The Winter Island will run from November 5th to December 31st – for more information and to book tickets, visit the Escape to Freight Island website here.

@ramonamcr / Instagram

Ramona’s Winter Village

A magical ‘winter village’ experience will be descending upon Ramona and The Firehouse this Christmas, complete with tequila cabins, teepees and open log fires. What more could you ask for?

The whole of Swan Street, which is home to the two adjoining restaurants, will be transformed into the festive winter village, with the existing outside space to be developed to provide more shelter to those wanting to escape the cold Manchester weather.

The plans for the festive village include cosy Colorado-style log cabins, each with its own fire and chimney, and those all-important teepees with open-log fires. It will also welcome pop-up stalls from independent traders in its own scaled-down Christmas market.

Ramona’s winter village will open next month on November 4th and bookings are available now, so head over to the Ramona website to get your reservation secured.

@mcrchristmasmarkets / Instagram

Manchester Christmas Markets

Last year, the annual Manchester Christmas Markets were cancelled as a result of Covid-19 and, let me tell you, it wasn’t very Christmassy.

But this year, the markets are back with a bang – though they’re going to look a little different. It was announced last week that, while the markets will be making a return, the main hub will be moved from Albert Square to Piccadilly Gardens as a result of renovation works at the Town Hall.

The area will be transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’, with all the usual yuletide bars, market stalls and food huts we’ve all missed so much – though it is worth noting that extra measures will be in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The markets will be open to the public from Friday November 12th through to Wednesday  December 22nd. 

@lightopiafestival / Instagram

Lightopia 

For the last two years, Manchester’s Heaton Park has been graced with Lightopia, a festival of immersive lights, lanterns and mesmerising installations and, low and behold, it’s coming back for its third event.

The never-before-seen illuminated trail will feature magical and multi-sensory interactive lights, lanterns and installations, illustrating a story of an imaginative and fantasy festive world. There will also be the ‘Fantasy Forest’, an area home to the most extraordinary and mystical animals to uncover.

Other attractions will include the ‘Fantasy Universe’ with a supernova display and bioluminescence plants, ‘Dragon’s Land’ featuring two huge 40m dragons and fabled fairies, ‘Fantasy Bees’, the trademark Manchester’s bee brought to life in a fantasy world, and the ‘Wonders of the World’.

Lightopia will be open to the public from November 18th 2021 until January 3rd 2022. To get your own tickets, visit the Lightopia Festival website here.

@barhutte / Instagram

Christmas Karaoke Huts at Bar Hütte

Alpine-themed Bar Hütte recently announced the return of its famed karaoke huts, and they’re going to be bigger and better than ever before.

The brand Bar Hütte village will be located at Manchester’s Great Northern, where it will transform the current Great Northern Beach Club site into a ‘magical wonderland inspired by a ski resort in the Alps’.

Visitors will be able to enjoy the familiar festive huts, all of which will be decked out in their usual cosy furnishings, fairy lights, live music sessions, endless drinks and, of course, those all-important karaoke machines. Bar Hütte has also become well known for its iconic ‘Shot-Ski’s’, which features four shots of limoncello served up on an actual ski, so you and your pals can tip back together before butchering another rendition of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You.

Bar Hütte will be landing at Great Northern from Thursday November 4th 2021 through until Sunday January 9th 2022 – get yourself booked in here.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

The iconic Winter Wonderland is coming home to Trafford’s indoor venue EventCity to celebrate the 2021 festivities with magical Christmas experiences such as reindeer, elves, fairies and even Father Christmas and his famous grotto.

There will also be a number of child-friendly theatrical performances taking place on the main stage with daily performances ideal for the whole family, including shows like the Ice Princess Show, Christmas Meltdown and the return of Winter Wonderland’s spectacular Christmas Circus.

And it wouldn’t be a Christmas bonanza without an abundance of festive food, would it? From German bratwursts to waffles and crepes, plus lots of Christmassy games stalls to keep the kids happily entertained, there’ll be something for everyone to feast upon. Elsewhere, a German bar will also be serving up fresh Bavarian beers and other festive drinks and adult refreshments.

Located at Event City next door to the Intu Trafford Centre, Winter Wonderland will be running from Saturday December 4th 2021 to Sunday January 2nd 2022. To book your own tickets and for more information about the event, click here.

Van Gogh Alive

Van Gogh Alive 

While this many not be the most Christmassy of events lined up this winter, it’s certainly a good one and will make for a fantastic day out for you and your family.

Van Gogh Alive will allow guests to experience the artist in a multi-sensory art exhibition that gives a unique glimpse into the life and work of Van Gogh as you travel.

Over 3,000 images from his vast catalogue of work – including iconic works like Starry Night, Sunflowers and lesser-known paintings that were inspired by his love of Japanese woodprints – will explore and showcase different periods of the artists’ somewhat troubled life. 

The exhibition, which is the most visited in the whole world, will be at Media City until January 23rd, 2022. For more information and to book your own tickets, visit the Van Gogh Alive website.

@therefugemcr / Instagram

The Refuge Christmas Carol

The Refuge is bringing back it’s iconic Christmas Carol, a wonderful line-up of festivities spread across twelve days.

Kickstarting the festivities will be a performance from The Hallé Ancoats Community Choir, who will be joined by a special guest appearance from the first of the season’s Town Criers. There will also be a dog fancy dress competition, a Christmas wreath making workshop, and a line up of Christmas Fairs with traders like Manchester Union Lager and Deadstock General Store. 

Guests will also be able to enjoy ‘Christmas in the Dining Room’, where a feast consisting of butter-roasted turkey breast with cranberry and apricot stuffing, goose fat roast potatoes, cranberry-glazed pigs in blankets and an abundance of festive veg will be dished up. 

The Refuge’s Christmas Carol will be starting on November 12th and will right up until Christmas – visit their website for bookings and more information.

@oasthousemcr / Instagram

The Oast House Curious Tipi

It wouldn’t be Christmas in Manchester without the Oast House’s legendary tipi, would it?

Billed as a ‘winter escape in the heart of Spinningfields’, the Curious Tipi proves to be a massive hit each year, with thousands of people descending upon the site to enjoy a steaming mug of mulled wine next to an open fireplace – you know, those proper Christmas vibes.

Throughout the winter, there will be a number of Christmassy events taking place within the cosy tipi, including the iconic Oast House cinema nights, their annual wreath making classes and, of course, plenty of those famous hanging kebabs. 

For more information, head over to The Oast House website or follow the official Instagram page.

Bongo’s Bingo

Bongo’s Bingo ‘A Tropical Christmas’ 

Fancy a game of Christmas bingo that isn’t with your nan at your local Mecca Bingo? Well, Bongo’s has you covered.

Everyone’s favourite game of bingo will be throwing a massive Christmas bonanza in the run-up to the big day, where there will be festive sing-alongs, conga lines, dance-offs, ‘cash cash money’ and tons of quirky prizes to be won. 

Guests are also required to don their best (and ugliest) Hawaiian shirt to make the occasion extra tropical – because Christmas jumpers were so last year.

‘A Tropical Christmas’ will be taking place at the Albert Hall on December 19th, December 20th, December 21st, December 22nd, December 23rd, December 28th, and December 29th. Get your tickets here.

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City Guides

CITY GUIDE: The best places to enjoy a gin & tonic in Manchester

The perfect excuse to indulge in a couple of gins tonight…

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@threelittlewordsmcr & @sevenbro7hers / Instagram

It’s International Gin & Tonic Day which calls for one thing and one thing only; a definitive round up of the best spots to enjoy a G&T here in Manchester.

Now, it’s no secret that here in Manchester we’re spoiled for choice on where to enjoy a tipple or two. And, if gin is your tipple of choice, you certainly won’t be left wandering the streets aimlessly in search of that perfect drink.

So, without any further ado, here’s our favourite Mancunian spots to enjoy a gin & tonic…

@threelittlewordsmcr / Instagram

Three Little Words

Because of course Manchester Gin’s very own distillery and bar was going to make the ultimate G&T list. The venue, located down Watson Street, features distillery on site which means every last drop of Manchester Gin is made there and then on site.

The Spirit of Manchester Distillery also also gives guests the opportunity to make their very own gin, as well as learn the ins-and-outs of distilling.

On the actual drinking side of things, their bar boasts every variety Manchester Gin has to offer, including their new Oyster Gin, as well as a whole array of other gins from across the U.K and beyond. 

Three Little Words, 2-13 Watson Street, Manchester, M3 4LP
threelittlewords.co.uk

@theatlasbar / Instagram

Atlas Bar

Found at the bottom of Deansgate, Atlas Bar is definitely one of the better known gin bars in the city. Boasting a massive collection of 560 gins – both local and global – guests are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting their tipple.

Atlas Bar also features a heated outdoor terrace, perfect for both summer evenings and those chillier winter nights. 

Atlas Bar, 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
atlasbarmanchester.com

The Old Bell Inn

The Old Bell Inn

A little bit further afield in the village of Delph, Oldham, stands The Old Bell Inn, which is an actual world record holder thanks to its vast collection of gin – all 1,100 of them.

You can’t compete with that, can you?

And, as well as it’s extensive gin offering, The Old Bell Inn is also well loved for its classic ‘countryside pub’ vibes and dazzling views of the Saddleworth Moor – the perfect place to sit back and relax with an ice cold G&T, if you ask me.

The Old Bell Inn, Huddersfield Road, Delph, Oldham OL3 5EG
www.theoldbellinn.co.uk

Seven Bro7hers

Seven Bro7hers 

Yes, I’m well aware that I’ve included a taproom on this list but hear me out; the iconic Salfordian brewers have recently dabbled in the world of distillery by launching their very own gin brand, Sis4ers Distillery. 

Their distillery has produced a number of different botanical blends with tasty flavours such as strawberry, lime and thyme, espresso and passionfruit. 

Seven Bro7hers, 39 Blossom Street, Ancoats, M4 5AF | Lockside Lane, Salford, M5 4YP
sevenbro7hers.com

@lonocove / Instagram

Lono Cove

Having opened just last week, the Northern Quarter’s newest tiki bar Lono Cove features two floors of ‘contemporary’ tiki fun, including treasure chest cocktails and an abundance of greenery… Oh, and plenty of gin.

While tiki bars are usually associated with rum (there’s plenty of that, too), Lono Cove boasts an impressive selection of gins that can be enjoyed with tonic or in their many cocktails. 

Lono Cove, 14 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1DH
lonocove.com

@theblackfriarsalford / Instagram

The Blackfriar

For some reason, G&Ts taste better in a cosy pub setting, so of course The Blackfriar had to make the list.

The iconic Salford boozer recently reopened after eighteen years of no action and a massive transformation, and it is now the place to enjoy some gourmet pub grub and a couple of gins, either with tonic or in the form of a tasty cocktail.

The Blackfriar, 41-43 Blackfriars Rd, Salford M3 7DB
theblackfriarsalford.co.uk/ 

 

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City Guides

CITY GUIDE: The cosiest pubs in Manchester to enjoy an autumn pint

It’s officially cosy pub season and we couldn’t be happier about it

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@gilbertoski & @samschophouse / Instagram

Summer has officially departed and, while we may be sad to wave goodbye to our beloved beer gardens for another six months, we’re undeniably very excited to welcome back those log fires and warming Sunday roasts.

Yep, Autumn is here and that means Manchester’s cosiest pubs are back open for business, offering all those lovely Autumnal treats such as mulled wine, warming fire places and those iconic cosy corners.

And luckily for you lot, the city is teeming with wonderful pub offerings to keep you occupied throughout the colder months.

So without any further ado, here’s some of our favourite spots…

@theblackfriarsalford / Instagram

The Blackfriar

This historic boozer has recently reopened after eighteen long years out of action following a massive investment by property giants Salboy, who have transformed the building back into the cosy pub it once was, with a fine dining section and green oasis through the back.

But round the front, guests can settle down in front of a roaring fireplace and indulge in all those comforting pub grub classics like fish and chips and pie and mash alongside a lovely pint of Guinness. It doesn’t get much more autumnal than that, does it?

The Blackfriar, 41-43 Blackfriars Rd, Salford M3 7DB.
https://www.theblackfriarsalford.co.uk/ 

@thedidsbury / Instagram

The Didsbury

Famous for it’s enormous front-facing beer garden in the summer (and for being the first stop in the famed Didsbury Dozen pub crawl, of course), The Didsbury is also well loved for it’s snug interior throughout the autumn and winter months.

Here, you’ll be able to sit back and relax with a beverage directly next to a crackling fireplace built within a lovely exposed brick wall – dogs are welcome too, incase you needed any more convincing. 

The Didsbury, 852 Wilmslow Rd, Didsbury, Manchester M20 2SG
The Didsbury Website

@oxnoblepubdeansgate / Instagram

The Oxnoble

Located at the heart of the old Potato Wharf in Castlefield, The Oxnoble is one of the city’s most historic pubs, having being built all the way back in 1804. 

And you know what they say about old and historic pubs; they make for the best winter boozers. The pub’s low ceilings and creaky floorboards give it a very comforting nostalgic feel, with its old-timely fireplace pairing perfectly with the many beers and bitters on offer behind the bar.

71 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4NQ
The Oxnoble Website

The Circus Tavern / Facebook

The Circus Tavern

The ‘smallest bar in Europe’ was always going to make the cosy pubs list, wasn’t it? Admittedly, many may consider The Circus Tavern to be more on the claustrophobic side than the cosy side but still, it’s an undeniable gem for those colder months.

While there isn’t a roaring fireplace to snuggle down next to (that’d be a major health hazard in such a small place, don’t you think?), there is plenty of those old-worldly pub vibes knocking about. Plus, famed footballer George Best did frequent the pub back in the day, if that helps.

The Circus Tavern, 86 Portland St, Manchester M1 4GX
http://circustavern.co.uk/

The Marble Arch

A short walk away from the Northern Quarter down Rochdale Road, The Marble Arch is undisputedly one of Manchester’s most historic and iconic boozers, having stood the test of time since 1888.

Providing those ‘proper pub’ vibes among a sea of trendy craft beer bars, The Marble Arch brews its own beer and is a definite must-visit when looking for some solace from Manchester’s icy wind and rain. 

The Marble Arch, 73 Rochdale Road, Manchester, M4 4HY
The Marble Arch Website

@samschophouse / Instagram

Sam’s Chop House

A pub once frequented by artist LS Lowry (there’s a massive statue of him propped up at the bar if you don’t believe me), Sam’s Chop House is as cosy and old-worldly as a pub can get.

Guests have to take a rickety and narrow winding staircase down to find the pub and fully functioning gourmet restaurant nestled underground, alongside an extensive drinks menu (the Guinness is really good here, too).

Sam’s Chop House, Back Pool Fold, Manchester M2 1HN
0161 834 3210

@thebritonsprotection / Instagram

The Briton’s Protection

It doesn’t get much cosier than this; The Briton’s Protection is one of Manchester’s oldest pubs (are you noticing a pattern here?) and specialises in possibly the most wintery drink there is: whisky. 

The pub can showcase up to 300 whiskies at any given time and features those classic old pub stools and circular tables crammed into a warm corner. Picture that on a cold Friday night after work… You can’t beat it.

The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5LE
0161 236 5895

@gilbertoski / Instagram

Peveril of the Peak

Of course Peveril of the Peak was going to crop up at some point – it is one of the most recognisable pubs in the whole of Manchester, after all (just look at that two-toned yellow and green brick exterior).

But on the inside, the Pev provides a seriously good atmosphere, the kind only achieved by the most traditional of boozers. Inside, guests can sit on original wooden benches among stained glass window, etched mirrors and brass bells. Classic.

The Peveril of the Peak, 127 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JQ
The Peveril of the Peak Facebook

@totalcurtis / Instagram

The City Arms

The historic City Arms, located smack in the middle of Manchester’s city centre, has been a regular entry in the Good Beer Guide for years and boasts all those lovely old pub features, including those built-in Chesterfield sofas and circular tables just begging for a packet of crisps to be opened and spread out upon them.

As is the case with this style of old-age pub, The City Arms really comes to life in the colder months and provides a comforting and cosy abode for Mancunians escaping the rain.

The City Arms, 46-48 Kennedy St, Manchester M2 4BQ
0161 236 4610

@bayhorsetavern / Instagram

Bayhorse Tavern

Ah, the Bayhorse Tavern, a haunt well known and loved by all those city-centre dwellers. While it may not be an ideal layout for those hot summer days (yeah, all three of them), it is the perfect spot to shelter from the rain.

The Bayhorse has a cracking selection of beer and also do a banging roast on a Sunday – the ideal place for the whole of autumn and winter, then.

Bayhorse Tavern, 35-37 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
https://thebayhorsetavern.co.uk

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