For many, this September welcomes a fresh and exciting start at the University of Manchester. Alongside starting a degree too comes discovering a new home, workstation and playground for the following few years.
Whilst the University experience is predominantly about gaining a degree, expanding your knowledge and exploring your future career path, there is a lot more to your time at Manchester than your university professors may have you believe.
Once you’ve passed the confines of a lecture theatre and broken through the boundaries of the library, therein lies a sprawling city, boasting some of the best-kept secrets in the UK but also some of the worst, as you fight tourists for your space on the pavement.
Inevitably, you’ll want to explore and lose yourself in Piccadilly, China Town or the Arndale Centre (there you really may lose yourself—only with time will it become less confusing). However perhaps the greatest of spaces to spend your time, whether new to Manchester or entering your last year, is the treasure trove that is the Northern Quarter.
A famous district in (surprise surprise) the North of Manchester, the NQ holds an array of vintage clothing retailers, boutique coffee shops and vinyl record stores. It seems to have everything under the sun, from the necessities, the indulgences and the downright weird and wonderful. The discoveries never end from your first visit to your last.
Home to COW and Pop Boutique, Blue Rinse and Oxfam, the choices and variety is aplenty for vintage lovers. Keep your eyes pealed too for the occasional vintage fair held in venues such as the Ruby Lounge; you never know what you might find (for me, it was a shiny silver micro backpack for £5; it is the ultimate clubbing companion and instigator of debate, drawing immensely mixed reviews from friends).
Of course, the Northern Quarter wouldn’t quite be the same without the impressive graffiti, popular nightclubs or inevitable risking of one’s life whilst dodging trams. These do however fall in the shadow of Affleck’s, the slightly hidden yet fiercely dominating force of the Northern Quarter.
Boasting three extensive floors of vintage stores, cafés, salons, a cereal restaurant, retro video games and a piercing studio, it’s a capsule Northern Quarter; Affleck’s Palace captures the area’s draw and appeal in one building. A favourite too of Lady Gaga’s, you can imagine the breadth of shoppers it draws from far and wide.
In reality however, the Northern Quarter is not an area to be described and explained in print. As a newbie, you must visit the district to discover for yourself the nooks and crannies to be loved and frequented. Considering the variety of fun and hidden treasures, there will inevitably be some preferable to you, perhaps undiscovered by others. Search far and wide, high and low, the Northern Quarter will provide and will continue to do so throughout your degree.
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