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 real ale pubs

Gourmet pints

by Chris Horkan of arts blog Mancubist

1.

The Kings Arms

As much a cultural hub as a pub, the Kings has been transformed under the management of Jon Cooper. The Salford boozer's upstairs, with a nautical theme, hostd plays, gigs and film nights, while the ground floor snug is home to a weekly knitting club. Map link.

2.

The New Oxford

Further up Salford's Chapel Street, the New Oxford is a beer connoisseur's top local destination. It's small but carries an impressive array of both continental bottles and hand-pulled cask ales. Try to visit during one of the New Oxford's regular beer festivals – when you'll be able to choose from dozens of additional beers over a weekend. Map link.

3.

The Marble Arch

An all-round favourite. The Marble Arch is off the beaten track and requires its patrons to go the extra mile – the reward for doing so: a spectacular 120-year-old pub bustling all day long. Be sure to try the selection of Marble beers, which are brewed on site. Map links.

4.

Bar Fringe

A Belgian-style bar with regularly changing cask ales and a fridge packed full of strong continental ales. Fringe boasts one of the most diverse jukeboxes in town, and a beer garden that the regulars brave in practically any weather. The bar staff here are always up for a bit of banter. Map link.

5.

Sandbar

Situated in the middle of the main university area, this large bar is occupied by a fun mix of older students and younger professionals. It's also the main meeting point for Manchester's substantial cycling community. Go for the beer – and maybe stick around for the regular music sessions. Map link.