Outside of London, Greater Manchester has the most extensive motorway network and the biggest airport. Around 1.6 million people commute into the centre of Manchester each weekday. It is the third biggest conurbation in the UK, one with a number of town centres, each with distinct identities.
By train, in the space of an hour, you could go from the Pennine foothills to the slag heaps of long exhausted collieries. By tram, you can see a rejuvenated Salford by means of the Lowry Centre and MediaCityUK flanking the Manchester Ship Canal. By bus, the wonders of Curry Mile, the scenic Pennine foothills around Saddleworth, Mossley and Stalybridge. That's before we mention the pulling power of two footballing heavyweights at the Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford, Bury Market, Intu Trafford Centre and Manchester city centre.
Thanks to the M60 motorway, it is no small wonder as to why Greater Manchester has a vast amount of hotels and suitable conference venues. As well as the Manchester International Conference Centre, you could host your conferences at The Chill Factor-e, Manchester Velodrome or Middleton Arena. Even with Concorde in full view at the Airport Viewing Park or inside a former monastery.
Though there's plenty of hotels and attractions in Manchester city centre alone, the rest of Greater Manchester has a lot to offer. Its major towns boast palatial market halls whereas some smaller towns and suburbs have open markets. South Manchester is not without its charms thanks to Rusholme's Curry Mile, bohemian Chorlton-cum-Hardy, and the tranquility of Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens. All of which ideal if your conference venue's in the city centre or yards away from Manchester Airport.
Wigan is ideal for the M6 motorway and West Coast Main Line. As well as being famed for rugby league, its pier and pies, it is blessed with country parks such as Pennington Flash and Haigh Hall. Bolton's draw includes the views from Rivington Pike, Bolton Arena and the Reebok Stadium. Shoppers will be spoilt for choice with shops including the Asian department store House of Raja's.
Rochdale is a good base for exploring the Pennines from with Hebden Bridge and Todmorden nearby. It is also the birthplace of the modern Cooperative Movement, with a museum on Toad Lane charting the history of the Co-op from Robert Owen's beginnings to the present day. Why not take some time out away from the centre by visiting Hollingworth Lake or Healey Dell Country Park. Neighbouring Bury has a vibrant shopping centre and, thanks to the East Lancashire Railway, it is possible to visit nearby Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall via steam train.
Salford has come on in the last decade thanks to redevelopment of the Manchester Ship Canal area. With Salford Quays, Lowry Centre and MediaCityUK major catalysts, it has made the city of Salford a suitable alternative to central Manchester. That is also true of the Trafford area, where The Trafford Centre along the Ship Canal has inspired similar development. Owing to its proximity to the M56 motorway, conference venues around Altrincham and Hale have proved popular.
The same could also be said of Stockport, Tameside and Oldham, with hotels along the eastern part of the M60 motorway. As well as its historic market, Stockport is worth a visit for Staircase House opposite its market hall and the Hatworks hatting museum. The Plaza Theatre, restored to its 1930s splendour, offers first class live entertainment and occasional film showings. Other attractions include the Stockport air raid shelters, dug into the town's sandstone rock and tours around Robinsons' Unicorn Brewery. Just outside the centre is Lyme Park in nearby Disley, Bramall Hall in Bramhall and Etherow Country Park in Compstall, near Marple.
The Tameside area includes Ashton-under-Lyne's indoor and outdoor markets, the Pennine foothills backing onto Mottram-in-Longdendale, Stalybridge and Mossley, and the recently reopened Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Portland Basin Heritage Centre is at the junction of the Peak Forest, and Manchester and Ashton-under-Lyne canals with permanent and temporary exhibitions. It is also a suitable conference venue for small groups. Other attractions in Ashton-under-Lyne include Ashton Central Library and Art Gallery and The Museum of the Manchesters. In Stalybridge, The Peoples' Gallery and Number 23 galleries are worth a visit, along with its famous and award-winning Buffet Bar on platform 4 of Stalybridge railway station.
The Oldham borough isn't short of its attractions either thanks to the town's proud cultural traditions. Gallery Oldham has a number of changing exhibitions situated in modern premises, whereas the Oldham Coliseum and nearby Shaw's Playhouse 2 offer first rate live entertainment. Away from the centre of Oldham, Tandle Hill Country Park in Royton borders the Rochdale boundary and offers fantastic views of Rochdale, Middleton and Oldham. The Peak District and Saddleworth is a mere bus ride away with breathtaking views en route, and character laden villages flanking the Pennine foothills. The main centre of Saddleworth, Uppermill, has the Saddleworth Museum and a Civic Hall noted for excellent live act. Saddleworth, besides its industrial heritage is also noted for its brass bands and the Whit Friday Brass Band Contests. It is also good walking territory with stunning views.
All of the above, only minutes away from the M60 motorway. Also minutes away from your nearest conference venue and hotel. Whether you wish to hold your conference with the Pennine foothills or the Manchester Ship Canal nearby, Greater Manchester fits the bill straight away.