Sport In The City: Manchester’s Indoor Curling Lanes

Originally featured on The Mancunion

There’s more to sport in Manchester than City and United: this week we highlight Manchester’s outdoor Curling lanes

Over the course of the academic year, as well as paying close attention to, and prioritising the progress and successes of, our university’s very own societies, teams and campus sports, let our new Sport in the City feature tempt you into a very different sporting day out. Whether it’s a new sport, a team about whom you did not know, or just an event that interests us, we hope that we will be able to entice you to explore the wide sporting variety that the city has to offer during your time studying at the University of Manchester.

In the spotlight this week: Manchester’s outdoor Curling lanes

Well…what is it?

And the award for the most unpredictable Sport in the City featured activity goes to…Curling. This Christmas, Manchester is to welcome outdoor Curling lanes for the first time, to allow the general public the opportunity to try their hand at the winter sport. Arguably a sport traditionally reserved for Curling clubs throughout the country, Manchester will host the country’s only outdoor Curling lanes this winter, and in doing so, shall provide a unique festive experience. Aimed at wannabee curlers of all abilities, do not be deterred if you had no idea about the winter sport before this article. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional makes little difference, unless you wish to go brush-to-brush in the outdoor Curling lanes league table. All in all, if you have ever been interested in how the sport works, or simply wouldn’t mind a try at mastering the art of Curling, then you are certainly in the correct city. Just be ready to grab a broom and Curling stone and brace yourself for a sport that is often described as chess on ice!

How do I get there?

Luckily, the UK’s only outdoor Curling lanes this winter can be located not too far from the city centre, meaning it’s certainly not too difficult to get to. By means of public transport, the short journey from Piccadilly Gardens to the ice rink situated on New Bailey Street can be reached by bus, in particular bus numbers 12, 25, 36 and 37. All services are sure to drop you a mere minute’s walk from your destination. However, should you wish to catch the tram from Manchester City Centre, your nearest Metrolink stop to the destination would be Deansgate/Castlefield and if you simply walk down Deansgate, and then take a left onto Quay Street, you will find the ice rink on your right as Quay Street turns into Irwell Street. Alternatively, you can make the journey by train, just make sure to book a ticket to either Salford Central or Deansgate Railway Stations.

But how much does it cost to get in?

For such a novelty activity this Christmas, the pricing is surprisingly cheap, and given the nature of the sport in needing a small group of people for Curling to work smoothly and properly, the cost of time spent on the ice I feel is both reasonable and affordable. In each session you are allowed a maximum of four people per lane and tickets (available online now) start from £20 for a group of up to four people per 15-minute session on the ice and three sessions per hour are also available. If a quarter of an hour simply isn’t enough, there is also the option for an hour session costing £60 and working out at £15 per person in a lane of four people participating. Please note: it is advised to purchase tickets in advance, because tickets might be in short supply and there could be limited availability at the venue itself.

What are the facilities like? 

Manchester’s Curling lanes are located next to the 620sqm ice-rink in Spinningfields and are modelled on the traditional appearance and layout of what is traditionally known in Curling as a sheet. The rectangular area of ice is modelled to be as flat as possible in order for the Curling stones to glide as desired. Traditionally, one can expect a Curling lane to be anything up to 150ft long and around 15ft wide, although due to space and the leisurely nature of Manchester’s outdoor lanes, please do not expect these Curling sheets to be perfect simulacrums of the Olympic specifications and guidelines! What you can expect, however, is to experience a surface more than adequate to properly practise the sport on, and in doing so get a flavour of what Curling is all about. After your stint on the ice, you can then expect a different type of surface, and the taste of a different flavour in the Curling clubhouse with a range of festive refreshments on offer as you get warm again.

Tell me something I didn’t already know…

I can’t imagine many of you are experts on both the art of Curling and the fine details of the sport itself (me included), but rather than tell you the basics of the sport, which you can easily pick up after some time on the ice at Manchester’s outdoor lanes, here are a few facts that you may not have known earlier. Curling is traditionally known as the sport of good sportsmanship. After a good shot, it’s of great importance and respect to congratulate your opponent, and conversely, to not cheer a mistake or miss, whilst traditionally the winners have to buy the losers a drink after the match. Manchester is etched in the history of the sport, too, after opening its first ice-rink in 1877. As a country, England’s most significant contribution to the winter sport is their invention of artificial ice. And it doesn’t take practice to appreciate that the Curling stones used must weigh heavily Coming in between 17kg and 20kg, and the granite used for the Curling stones is only sourced from two places, both within the British Isles: The Scottish island of Ailsa Craig and the Trefor Granite Quarry in Wales. Who knew, eh?

Finally, when can I see this in action?

The Manchester outdoor Curling lanes are now open to the general public and are open every-day except Christmas Day until the 26th of January, 2016. The lanes are open weekdays from noon up until the last session at 7:40pm and at weekends for slightly longer, opening at 10:00am and shutting after the last session at 9:40pm. For more information, please visit http://thecurlinglanes.co.uk/

If you have any requests for local teams, sports or events taking place in Manchester, or if you wish to be involved, please contact: sports@mancunion.com

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