Horticultural highlights include National Trust 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4, giant garden games, Smell the Roses with Rachel de Thame, Daimuid Gavin knows his Onions Dig the city disco. Fabulous floral show gardens.

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Top 5 freebies

Something for nothing

by Sarah-Clare Conlon whose blog Words & Fixtures about language, literature, arts and culture won Best New Blog in the 2009 Manchester Blog Awards.

1.

John Rylands Library

A gothic sandstone building on Deansgate recently juxtaposed with a clever modern visitor centre. This fabulous legacy of Cottonopolis was commissioned by Cuban-born Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her philanthropist textile manufacturer husband. There's more about Manchester’s first multi-millionaire and some fascinating changing exhibitions in the cathedral-like public reading rooms.

Click the link for more information about John Rylands Library

2.

Royal Northern College of Music

The only UK conservatoire to be a centre for excellence in teaching and learning, but you can still hear the talented students play for free! Orchestral performances take place in the late-60s concert hall, while the RNCM's best-kept secret is their Wednesday-lunchtime recitals by soloists and smaller ensembles in the calming and charming setting of St Ann’s Church.

Click the link for more information about the Royal Northern College of Music.

3.

Heaton Park

Manchester’s biggest green space, with lovely views both back over town and out to the Pennines. There’s plenty to do whatever your age: a well-equipped children’s playground; rowing boats, woodland walks and cycle paths; even a grand 18th-century mansion and farm. It’s also home to beekeepers, astronomers, trolley-bus enthusiasts and the Commonwealth Bowling Club.

Click the link for more information about Heaton Park

4.

City Airport

Formerly known as Barton Aerodrome, this was the UK's first purpose-built municipal airport and it’s still in action today. Sit in the beer garden and watch small planes bump excitedly along the grassy runway as they take off and land, and climb up the Art Deco control tower that dates from 1933.

Click the link for more Information about the City Airport

5.

Whitworth Art Gallery

There's always something worth seeing at this gallery, part of Manchester University; not least the soon-to-be developed building and its parkside location. Recent highlights have been the Subversive Spaces surrealism show, the American Scene prints exhibition and Walls Are Talking, and the varied event programme includes related talks held in the “secret” lecture theatre.

Click the link for more information about Whitworth Art Gallery