The Complete Travel Guide to the Magic: The Gathering (MTG) Grand Prix Manchester
By Aaron Strawbridge, and with contributions from Tim McMaster. Based upon the 2014 guide by Ryan Brierley and Nick Hall. Images lovingly fixed by Michael Leversha and Luke May
EventCity is an exhibition centre on Barton Dock Road close to the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester, England.
27th – 29th MAY, 2016
Mindsport Internional’s (organiser) GP Manchester 2016 website
Electricity: 240V, 3-pin UK/Irish plug. European plugs require a simple adaptor available in most convenience stores, supermarkets, and hotels. 110V countries require a transformer.
Time Zone: UTC+1 (British Summer Time).
Emergency Services: 999 or 112. For non-emergencies the hospital in Manchester City Centre is the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Closer to the venue is Salford Royal, generally known as Hope Hospital. Police can be contacted for non-emergencies on 101.
Smoking: It is against the law to smoke in indoor public spaces, inside vehicles with under 18s and at transport stations in Britain. You also need to be over 18 years of age to purchase cigarettes and tobacco, and identification may be requested by the vendor.
Safety: Manchester is not particularly dangerous, but like any large city it’s a very good idea to maintain an awareness of your surroundings and belongings.
Currency and Language
The language of the UK is English, and if you’re able to understand what is written in this travel guide, you’ll probably be ok. One thing that is useful to note is this event is in the north of England, those local to the area will tend to use a large amount of colloquialisms whilst speaking. If you survived GP Liverpool last year you’ll be ok but just in case, this might help.
GBP (Great British Pounds Sterling – £): Most stores accept major credit/debit cards and also have the facility to accept contactless payment. Some stores, however, do have a minimum card spend. Cash machines are readily available, and you can find those attached to travel shops which can dispense in other selected currencies as well as GBP. For those looking to exchange money, it is generally advised not to change money at the airport, and instead do so either before arrival in the country or upon arrival in the city centre. In particular The Post Office, Marks & Spencer and Natwest Bank generally offer quite good exchange rates.
Available coin denominations: 1 pence, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2
Available note denominations: £5, £10, £20, £50*
* £50 notes are quite rare and will be subject to a lot of scrutiny in smaller establishments. These notes may not be accepted in smaller shops, on public transport, and elsewhere.
Arriving By Plane
Getting around the airport
Manchester Airport is a large international hub, with three terminals and a ground transport station. Terminals 1 and 2 are connected to each other with covered travelator bridges, via the Station, with Terminal 3 a short outdoor walk from Terminal 1. All walking routes are well-signposted, and are no longer than 15 minutes.
Getting from the airport to the city
The station has a frequent train service to Manchester Piccadilly in the heart of the city centre (journey time around 20 minutes), as well as local bus route 43 to nearby Piccadilly Gardens (journey time around one hour). Both of these services operate 24 hours a day, although less frequent at night. There is also a Metrolink (tram) service, but this takes longer than the train.
Trains are operated by Northern Rail and by First TransPennine Express, with tickets to the city (valid on either) costing £4.30 one way / £4.40 return at most times, with a return ticket valid for 30 days. For departures before 09:30 on weekdays, fares rise to £5.00 one-way / £7.90 return.
Bus route 43 is operated by Stagecoach Manchester. A one-way ticket to the city costs £3.10, and a ‘DayRider’ providing unlimited travel on Stagecoach buses until the end of the day costs £4.10, and is also valid on services from the city to the Grand Prix venue (see below). If you anticipate travelling between the city and the venue as part of a longer visit then a ‘MegaRider’, valid for 7 days, costs £13.50.
The tram service is operated by Metrolink and takes approximately 40 minutes. Tickets area available from £4.20 for a single and £4.40 (off peak) for a return ticket.
Taxis and cabs are also available at each terminal’s Arrivals desk, provided by Arrow Cars, which costs around £23 for a journey to the city, or £25 directly to the Grand Prix venue.
Arriving By Plane
Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Arriving into Manchester from Liverpool airport is most easily achieved by train. From the airport, take the 80A or 86A to Liverpool South Parkway train station, which is approximately two miles from the airport. From the station take a First TransPennine Express or East Midlands Trains service to Manchester Piccadilly.
Terravision also operate a Coach service direct to Manchester Sackville Street.
Arriving by Train/ By Coach
From London, Virgin operate a high-speed service every 20 minutes, with a journey time of around two hours. Trains depart from London Euston and arrive at Manchester Piccadilly (the same arrival station as local airport services).
From Other Locations
Trains from all major UK companies stop in Manchester, and we have three City Centre stations, Victoria, Oxford Road and Piccadilly. The main city centre station is Manchester Piccadilly, with frequent connections to all other major UK cities.
Manchester Oxford Road provides connections to the north west of the country, in particular Liverpool and Preston, whilst Manchester Victoria provides connections to locations across the north of England. Frequent connections operate between the stations via a free Metroshuttle bus service.
Arriving by Coach
Coaches arrive into Manchester to Chorlton Street coach station a stones throw from Piccadilly Gardens bus station, where transport to the venue can be found. If your coach arrives at Manchester Shudehill Station, follow the directions below to reach Piccadilly Gardens.
Getting to the Venue
Once you have arrived in the city centre, the only non-taxi option to reach the venue is the bus service operated by Stagecoach. Two services serve the same route between Piccadilly Gardens (Stand K) and the Trafford Centre (adjacent to the venue): the 250 and the limited-stop X50. Given that you are travelling the full end-to-end length of the route, the X50 is faster and preferable, but does not operate in the early morning or late evening.
Fares on either service are £3.10 one-way, £4.10 for a one-day unlimited ‘DayRider’ ticket, and £13.50 for a seven-day unlimited ‘MegaRider’. Unlimited tickets are additionally valid on route 43 to/from the airport (see above).
If arriving by bus
You will already be in the correct bus station, catch the 250 or X50 from Stand K.
If you are arriving by train
Manchester Piccadilly: The bus station at Piccadilly Gardens is a short 5-10 minute walk away (see map above-right), or one stop on the Metrolink tram (departs from the signposted lower platforms), which is a free transfer with your ticket from the airport as long as the destination on your ticket reads “Manchester CTLZ”.
Manchester Oxford Road: Catch a train the short distance to Manchester Piccadilly Station and follow the instructions above.
Manchester Victoria: Walk the short distance from the station to Shudehill Metrolink Station (this route is well signposted), and catch the tram to Piccadilly Gardens.
If you are arriving by Coach
Piccadilly Gardens bus station is a short walk up Portland Street from Chorlton Street coach station. If arriving at Manchester Shudehill, catch the Metrolink Tram from Shudehill Metrolink station, to Piccadilly Gardens.
National Rail Website
The Grand Prix venue, EventCity, is adjacent to a very large shopping mall called the Trafford Centre, which has its own bus station.
The 250 and X50 buses from the city, however, call at EventCity’s own bus stop adjacent to the venue building, in addition to the bus station. The nearest bus stop to the venue, is just past the Trafford Centre “Home” section, directly adjacent to the venue. Access from the bus station is via short walk through the shopping mall, and over the footbridge to the Home section.
The Trafford Centre features many places to shop and eat, more information about food options in the Trafford Centre can be found below. A warning ahead of the event, the Trafford Centre is one of the largest shopping venues in the country, so plan time to get back to EventCity if you are planning to play in a specific event on the day.
Near the Venue
Close to the venue, there is a distinct lack of hotels however there are four hotels within a reasonable walking distance (approximately 20 minutes) of EventCity.
Premier Inn Trafford Centre North (M41 7JE)
Premier Inn Trafford Centre West (M17 8PG)
Premier Inn Trafford Centre South (M17 8PG)
Premier Inn are a UK based budget hotel chain, with three hotels located near the venue.
Travelodge Manchester Trafford Park (M17 8DD)
Another UK based budget hotel chain. This hotel is slightly further afield than the Premier Inn hotels above.
Accommodation – Other Options
The staff hotel for this event is:
Copthrone Hotel Manchester
About 10 minutes by bus/taxi from the Trafford Centre is an area of Manchester called Salford Quays where the Lowry Museum and Art Gallery, Imperial War Museum North, a small outlet shopping centre and a large number of UK television stations are based. Bus connections from this area to the venue is via the X50 bus route, however as noted above, this does not operate early morning or late at night.
Taxis should cost around £8 from Salford Quays.
Salford Quays Hotels
Ibis Budget Media City (Postcode: M5 3AW)
Holiday Inn Express Salford Quays (Postcode: M50 3XW)
Holiday Inn Manchester MediaCityUK (Postcode: M50 2EQ)
Ramada Manchester, Salford Quays (Postcode: M50 3SQ)
Premier Inn Salford Quays (Postcode: M5 3AW)
Food and Drink: Near the Venue
Local Area: The venue has a number of fast food outlets close by, including a 24-hour Starbucks, Krispy Kreme and McDonalds. There is also an ASDA supermarket within easy walking distance.
The Trafford Centre: Within the Trafford Centre itself (about a 15 minute walk from the venue over a covered walkway) there is a large food court (The Orient). Within this area you can find the usual assortment of fast food outlets, as well as chain restaurants like
TGI Fridays, Nando’s and Gourmet Burger Kitchen.
Yang Sing Cathay: A smaller version of the Yang Sing in the city centre. Excellent food from a family run independent business.
Tampopo: Good food from across Asia, with excellent vegetarian and vegan selections.
Barburrito (Burritos), Tacos and similar items, freshly made whilst you wait.
“The Mardi Gras” (Wetherspoons): Cheap and cheerful pub food from the UK’s biggest chain pub brand.
Five Guys: Burgers & fries served up in a brown paper bag. Fresh made as you wait with ingredients sourced from the local area – An absolute must for burger lovers.
Nandos: Peri Peri chicken restaurant, good value for money. NB. Cheekiness not guaranteed.
Food and Drink: City Centre
Pie and Ale: A small eatery which is true to its name, serving some of the best pies in Manchester. A wide variety of fillings are available, all served with a hearty portion of mashed potatoes and gravy. The bar has a wide selection of ales and other beverages and runs a happy hour every night. If you fancy a challenge, try their eating competition!
Unit 2 The Hive, Lever Street, M1 1FN
Dough: One of the best pizzeria in Manchester, and with a cocktail bar attached to boot! Good variety of gluten free and vegetarian options.
75-77 High Street, M4 1FS
Port Street Beer House: Small northern quarter bar with one of the best beer selections in Manchester.
39-41 Port Street, M1 2EQ
TV 21: Lively bar/club with a decent food selection.
10 Thomas Street, M4 1DH
Food and Drink: City Centre
Located near the Arndale shopping centre, and the National Football Museum, Exchange Square is home to a number of chain eateries, no matter what type of food you crave, you will undoubtedly find something around here. For more information on places to eat and drink in this area of the city check out:
Sinclairs Oyster Bar (NB. Does not actually serve oysters)
Spinningfields: An upmarket part of the city, expect places to eat around here to be pricier than elsewhere.
Chinatown: Based in the city centre near the bus stop to the venue, an area of the city filled with restaurants providing chines and other Asian cuisine.
Curry Mile: The world famous location (allegedly), based just outside of the city in an area of Manchester called Rusholme, is a large amount of curry houses and restaurants, specialising in South Asian cuisine.
Places to Visit
MoSI – Museum of Science and Industry
The station buildings of the world’s very first passenger railway service are today home to the Museum of Science and Industry. Showcasing the city’s heritage as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the main hall contains dozens of running steam engines (warning — it’s a little noisy), whilst highlights of the second building include a working replica of the world’s first general-purpose computer “Baby”, built at Manchester University in 1948. Across the road is the Air and Space hall, where preserved aircraft from the 20th Century are on display. Entry is free of charge, except for the travelling exhibitions.
Part of the University of Manchester, the Manchester Museum houses a number of permanent exhibits, mainly focussed on archaeology and zoology. Situated a short bus ride (or a brisk walk) away from the city centre, entry is free of charge. Highlights include a full-size replica Viking longboat, a Blue Whale skeleton, numerous Egyptian artefacts including sarcophagi, a hall of live amphibious animals, and a full-size cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil. By bus, take any of the 41, 42, 43, 142, or 143 services from Piccadilly Gardens, and ask the driver where is best to alight.
Located in the Salford Quays, The Lowry is a major arts centre with theatres, galleries and workshops alongside restaurants and cafes. Information about everything going on can be found on their website along with any prices involved. Can be reached by Tram or Bus
number 50, 25 or 33 from the city centre, or on the X50 from the city centre or venue.
Because it wouldn’t be a visit to Manchester without talking about the beautiful game. If you like your football, there are three main places to visit in Manchester alone, which we’ve detailed below.
National Football Museum
Located in the Urbis building near Manchester Victoria Station is the National Football Museum where visitors can enjoy world class objects (over 2,500 are on display at any one time), ground breaking interactive exhibits and a changing programme of temporary exhibitions, linking football to topics as diverse as fashion, history, art and World War One.
Old Trafford (The Theatre of Dreams)
Home to Manchester United FC, and a stones throw away from the GP venue, Old Trafford has a number of fan experiences for you to try. Why not have lunch or dinner in the Red Cafe, try out a stadium tour, or visit the museum or megastore. Old Trafford can be found by taking the X50 bus from the venue, and getting off the bus at Hotel Football.
In an attempt to replicate the way of Barcelona, Manchester City Football Club have developed their very own campus. A ride on the Ashton line of the Metrolink can take you there from the city centre, so why not visit the home of the Sky Blues, and take in a stadium tour and a visit to their megastore.
Places to Play Magic: The Gathering in Manchester
Manchester is home to a number of excellent game stores both within the city centre and slightly further afield. It is worth noting that there is no game store with the Trafford Centre in case people were hoping for a game store close to the venue.
Fanboy Three: One of the UK’s biggest organised play stores, with plenty of play space, organised play for various games seven days a week, and a massive board game & roleplaying stock. Fanboy Three runs FNM every week, and has a large organised play space that is free to use when there aren’t any events on, and also have a limited singles selection.
Travelling Man Manchester: Part of the north of England’s biggest comic and game store chains, Travelling Man Manchester, has a very wide ranging collection of comic books for sale alongside games and other various geekery supplies. This store does not have any organised play space open during the day, but does run FNM but does not sell singles.
Both these stores can be found near Piccadilly Gardens, where you catch the bus to the venue.
Slightly Further Afield
Nick’s preferred method of contact is some form of social media. He’s perfectly happy for people to ring him, though preferably at a reasonable hour except in cases of emergency.
Aaron Strawbridge, Level 1
Aaron’s preferred form of contact is email however please do not email him on GP Saturday. Any complaints about the content this guide can be directed at him. (Except the football, you can blame Nick for that…)
Travel Guide to MTG Grand Prix Manchester Summary
Getting to the Venue from the Airport
1. Find the train station, the maps within this article can help.
2. Catch a train to Manchester Piccadilly. If you can get a First TransPennine Express train, do so, they tend to be quicker.
3. From the train station walk to Piccadilly Gardens Bus Station, the map here will show you the route.
4. Catch the X50 or 250 bus from Stand K, you’ll see the venue easily from the bus.
If you’re arriving late at night, it might be best to get a taxi and try and share a cab
Getting From the Staff Hotel to the Venue
From the hotel, head to The Lowry Theatre, then cross the bridge across the Manchester Ship Canal leading to the Imperial War Museum North. There is a bus stop across the road from the museum.
Follow the signs for Manchester United Football Club, this is fairly well signposted and you’ll go over a bridge of painted red metal. The bus stop is across the road from Hotel Football.
The Locals Guide of Where to Eat
We asked some of Manchester Magic community their recommendations for places to
eat in the city.
Nick Hall: Reds True Barbecue. The Manchester branch of a chain of “low and slow” barbecue restaurants in the UK. Don’t let the word chain put you off, these guys came 24th at the World Barbecue Championships in the Brisket Category.
Go If: You like your meat dish with a side order of meat dish.
Don’t Go If: You’re vegetarian or eating with a vegetarian.
Michael Leversha: Lotus – A vegetarian/vegan Chinese restaurant just outside the city centre. Friendly staff, about 100 different vegetarian options from soup to noodles to ice cream, in addition to being fantastic value for money.
Do Go If: You are staying in South Manchester or you want something quiet, relaxed and homely.
Don’t Go If: You’re going with friends who need to eat meat.
Tom Bailey: The Alchemist. A very diverse mix of food and amazing cocktails, The Alchemist has two branches in Manchester, both with a really good atmosphere and wonderful food. If you want a cocktail recommendation try the Hot and Cold Espresso Martini.
Do Go If: Go, Seriously, its good for everything.
Don’t Go if: I can’t think of a reason not to go.
John O’Leary: Mr Coopers House and Gardens – In the Midland hotel, Mr Cooper’s is decorated to be look like a Victorian garden. The food is generally just really high quality British cuisine, with a few interesting dishes inspired by other chefs or culinary trends. The wine is great and I can’t praise the service more highly.
Do Go If: You want somewhere with a very casual dress code.
Don’t Go If: While the prices are reasonable it certainly isn’t budget.
Expect a bill of around £100 for two people with all the food and wine included.
Well, that’s it! We thoroughly hope that this guide has been helpful for you. If you have any questions then please do let us know either in the comments below or contact us via the contact details above. You may also find this list of Magic: The Gathering Facebook Groups & Communities useful.
We look forward to seeing you all at GP Manchester.