Let’s be clear. The ‘second city’ is an informal title and the choice is clearly a subjective one. So, obviously, the victor has to be Manchester.
Over the years, people have struggled to make up their minds as to which area is the UK’s biggest (culturally speaking) besides London. In the early 19th century, it was Dublin, then later Glasgow and Liverpool battled it out for the honour, both being major industrial cities at the time.
In 2015, research conducted by YouGov proved more people think of Manchester as the second city more than any other after we beat Birmingham to the top spot with 30% of the vote. But how does the land lie now?
B’ham has a strong claim – given the city-region is the second-largest in England, particularly in terms of its urban economy. Manchester is only the fifth largest by population.
Progress in Manchester, however, has put the city in the spotlight in recent years and now it seems primed to take the crown, after being ranked as the second city in numerous polls since the 2000’s.
When you ask people why, it really seems to come down to culture.
Perhaps this is unsurprising, given the famous cultural exports of Manchester ranging from the suffragette movement to the Hacienda and the world’s first professional football league.
The city is also home to the longest-running soap opera in the world and has spawned a staggering 25 Nobel prize winners to date, as well as famous authors like Elizabeth Gaskell and Anthony Burgess.
According to the Trinity Mirror Data Unit, Manchester ranks ninth out of 50 cities for culture, with more music venues per 100,000 people than anywhere else in the country. It is also second for most libraries and cinemas.
Birmingham, on the other hand, ranks 47th. Still, it beats us on Michelin stars with four more than Manchester (if you count Where The Light Gets In’s green award).
The Midlands has also made some cultural strides in recent years with big club nights like Bigger than Barry and Moho, alongside arthouse venues like Yard and Ikon gallery.
It’s also started to get more food and drink independents popping up, as the dining culture moves away from big chains to a more local focus. Credit where credit is due.
Culture aside, there are other important factors to take into account such as universities, which are the lifeblood of many UK cities.
The University of Manchester currently ranks sixth in the country, whilst Birmingham sits at 87th. No competition to speak of there, then.
And what about sport? Well, in 2020 Manchester ranked the 8th best sports city in the world by BCW Sport. It also successfully hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2002, whilst Birmingham failed in its bid to host the 1992 Olympics.
However, Birmingham does host the international athletics meetings and will be the centre of the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
It also goes without saying that Manchester has two of the best football teams in the country, no matter if you’re red or blue. Yes, for a time Aston Villa were the best in England – winning their first division title five times before United or City – but since then Manchester has far out-stripped the Midlands teams in terms of titles.
Overall, it seems clear Manchester is the victor.
Even Birmingham’s own residents seem to agree, according to a study conducted in 2017 which discovered a massive 38 percent view the birthplace of Oasis, Corrie and The Stone Roses as the true second city. This figure increased to 44 percent when only 18 to 24-year-olds were asked.
Even though Birmingham might be the most populous city outside of London and a bigger contributor to national GDP, most people believe Manchester is worthy of the second city title. After all, size isn’t the only thing that’s important.
Feature image / Adam Pester.
Art & Culture
Manchester’s ‘knock-out comedy festival’ returns this year – with Ed Gamble, Sara Pascoe, and more on lineup
Manchester’s newest comedy festival is making a return to the city later this year, and there’s some massive names on the lineup set to bring the laughs.
Just like last year, festivalgoers are in for an “explosive series of shows” from some of the hottest names on the comedy circuit.
Multi award-winning comedians Adam Buxton, Ed Gamble, Sara Pascoe, and Alan Davies are just some of the famous names on this year’s jam-paced lineup.
They’ll be joined by the phrenetic Russell Kane, the legendary Dylan Moran, and Taskmaster stars Phil Wang and Fern Brady when they all take to the Castlefield Bowl stage over the five-day festival from Wednesday 6 – Sunday 10 September.
That’s not all either, as this year’s lineup is also stacked with flawless entertainers like cult comic/poet Tim Key, viral sensation Troy Hawke, ventriloquism queen Nina Conti, Father Ted hero Adrial O’Hanlon, and Mash Report host Rachel Parris, as well as a bunch of fast-rising breakthrough upcoming comedy names and homegrown talents.
Josh Jones, Dan Tiernan, Sharon Wanjohi, Ania Magliano, Celya Ab are just some of the newcomers you can catch over the five days.
And aside from the comedy, just like last year, the very-best eats from Manchester’s street food scene will also be on site to tuck into, as well as an exciting selection of bars serving signature beers, cocktails, and more.
Festival organisers are promising an “outrageously good time” for anyone heading down this year.
Laughterama is the latest venture by sibling duo Will Briggs and Cass Randolph of 57 Festivals, who have been bringing their unique blend of comedy programming in boutique-festival settings to sell-out crowds across the UK for the past 15 years.
And after their hugely-successful first year in Manchester, the pair are looking forward to returning later this year.
“Last year’s festival was epic,” Will and Cass admitted.
“The shows and crowds were electric, and we couldn’t have asked for a stronger first year, [so] for this year’s return, we’ve been focused on making sure we maintain that feeling by presenting lineups that will amaze and delight.
“We’ve added more even shows and are looking forward to welcoming back everyone that came last year, plus their friends and families too.”
Laughterama 2023 is landing at Castlefield Bowl from Wednesday 6 – Sunday 10 September, with tickets now on sale at £25 per person and already selling fast.
You can grab yours on the Laughterama website before they sell out here.
Featured Image – Supplied
Art & Culture
Manchester Day is back with a ‘summer holiday’ theme and lots of family fun next month
Mancs are being encouraged to “break out a deckchair and ditch the morning rush for a sun lounger” as Manchester Day returns his summer.
And this year, the theme is all about being ‘On Holiday’.
Already being described as “the day summer officially starts” in the city centre, the massively-popular Manchester Day is back once again next month, and after what have been successful collaborations in the past, Manchester City Council is joining forces with award-winning local arts organisation Walk the Plank to offer a jam-packed schedule of family fun.
The Council is promising that the city centre will be transformed to “bring the holiday vibes without having to go near the M60”.
Unlike in previous years, you can expect to see the celebrations city-wide this year.
Taking over on Saturday 29 July, Manchester Day 2023 will have attractions dotted all throughout the city centre in main social hubs such as Deansgate, Exchange Square, St Ann’s Square, and more from midday right through until 9pm.
Once the sun starts to set, the focus will shift over to the Northern Quarter, with festivalgoers able to continue soaking up the evening sunshine as the party continues.
The Council is encouraging the Greater Manchester public to keep their eyes peeled in the coming weeks as more information will be revealed about the event – including new events, stalls, street food traders, and family-friendly entertainment.
“If there is one thing this city knows how to do, it’s throw a party,” Cllr Pat Karney, Chair of Manchester Day at Manchester City Council said ahead of this year’s event.
“I’m incredibly excited for the public to see what we have in store this summer.
“We know that this year sees a change to the usual celebrations.
“But we are sure residents of all ages will come in their thousands to soak up the holiday atmosphere and have a fantastic day out.