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Manchester 2002 - The XVII Commonwealth Games
by
Christine Roberts

2002 marks the year of the largest sporting event to hit the UK, the world class Commonwealth Games to be held in Manchester. Even more important is the fact that they are taking place during the Queen's Golden Jubilee, the pinnacle of a year long festival of music, art, sport and culture.

While the Games provide a marvelous opportunity for sports enthusiasts to watch the greatest sportsmen and women in the world, they are enhanced by the plethora of fantastic cultural activities being organized. Also, England's North Country is right on Manchester's doorstep and for which makes it an ideal base from which to tour the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, North Wales, the Peak District in Derbyshire and Lancashire.

During this year, a dedicated marketing team has been boosting the North West and Manchester as a top tourism destination in the run up to the Games. They have worked together with the City and Regional partner organizations including BTA, Cumbria Tourist Board, England's North Country, Manchester 2002, Manchester Airport and City Council, Marketing Manchester, the North West Development Agency and the North West Tourist Board to maximize the tourism benefits of hosting the Commonwealth Games in vibrant Manchester.

Says Fiona Turnbull, seconded marketing manager for co-ordinating and marketing the North West, "We have a tremendous opportunity to promote Manchester and the region on the domestic and international tourism stage, creating a legacy that will attract visits from within Britain and throughout the world for many year to come". 

All the buildings and structures developed for the Games will have a specific use after the event. The City of Manchester Stadium, for instance, will become the new home for Manchester City's revered football club.

Some of the events are free and others are very affordable Among the host of fantastic buildings that visitors will be eager to see are the new Imperial War Museum North and the Manchester City Art Gallery which has undergone a massive transformation - two of a long list of best museums in the City which offer free entrance.

The Lowry - National Landmark Millennium Project for the Arts - was a winner of the "2001 Building of the Year Award". Located on Salford Quays, it houses two theatres where opera, ballet, comedy and drama are regularly presented. 

Interestingly the name of Manchester is not unique to England. Another 35 bear the same name, with 31 in the USA and the rest in Bolivia, Canada, Jamaica and Surinam.

Each day, coach tours will convey guests to nearby scenic spots such as to North Wales, Derby - the Peak District and Lancashire, among others.

A short drive from Manchester is the delightful village of Wycoller where actress Penelope Keith is said to have a home.

A recently established 5-star hotel in the city, The Lowry Hotel, is offering its guests who book a Friday and Saturday night until August 2002, a free night on Sunday - subject to availability. The Crowne Plaza Manchester - The Midland hotel has a similar offer. 

Built in 1903 it is very conveniently located in the city centre. I discovered that they have a novel way to discourage guests who use their minibar to store their own drinks and purchases. Every time the minibar door is opened, a charge is automatically made against one's account!

When in Manchester, be sure to try out their numerous great restaurants and night life. And don't be surprised if you catch a glimpse of the Beckhams, supermodel Linda Evangelista or Coronation Street star in King Street.

Getting to Manchester is relatively easy. A cheap return from London to Manchester cost me some stlg49, off-peak.

Lake District

One of several recommended short breaks to take after the Games is to the Lake District National Park. A highlight for every visitor to Cumbria is the newly built Rheged Discovery Centre which is situated in Penrith. It is Europe's largest grass-covered building designed to resemble a Lakeland hill and it blends in very well with the surrounding countryside. Admission is free and it is the only place in the world where you can see the Mallory and Irvine exhibits on display, in the National Mountaineering Exhibition - Britain's only permanent national mountaineering display.

Built in a disused quarry, it won an International Built Environment Award in the annual British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

The Eden Valley and its lovely red sandstone villages were a lovely surprise as was the place where we stopped for lunch, at an award-winning organic bakery -The Village Bakery - which Prince Charles visited quite recently. The owner, an "organic pioneer", offers a program of bread-making courses for the individual and for corporates - "Together we Rise". Fortunately, accommodation is no problem as there are lots of B& B's in the area. See www.village-bakery.com.

We spent one night at the tranquil Borrowdale Gates Hotel, toured the town of Keswick on foot, noting it's interesting Derwent Pencil Museum and colorful, unusual teapots at the Teapottery establishment. 

Wordsworth country included a visit to two of William Wordsworth's former homes, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount. Then, it was on to Windermere, a cruise on its famous lake bearing the same name and a tour of Ambleside and Grasmere. 

A special highlight for our group on one crisp spring morning was to drive in our mini-van through this picturesque countryside watching gentle snowflakes falling all around us. It was magical!

Further information on Britain's North Country from your nearest British Tourist Authority Office.

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Email:  Christine Roberts

 

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