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Games city is 'party capital' of England

29 July 2002

Fun and Games gripped Manchester as the city celebrated in the sun and captured the hearts of athletes and visitors from around the world.

Piccadilly Gardens

Children cool off in Piccadilly Gardens

As the city buzzed with Commonwealth Games fever, more than 140,000 spectators poured into the centre yesterday to line the route of the marathon and cheer on competitors.

All the venues were swarming with fans as the few remaining tickets were snapped up.

A full house of 38,000 packed the City Of Manchester stadium and a further 20,000 attended other venues. There was a crowd of 16,000 - including the Earl and Countess of Wessex - at Salford Quays yesterday for the speed-walking event.

The city became the party capital of the country as thousands more packed the centre.

Crowds filled Piccadilly Gardens to watch the sporting action on a giant video screen while children played in the new fountain. There was also live entertainment in every city square.

Bars and restaurants were doing a roaring trade as revellers and sports fans soaked up the sun and the atmosphere.

City centre bosses said stores are also enjoying a shopping bonanza.

Bars have been granted extended opening hours and many along Canal Street and Deansgate Locks were overflowing as revellers celebrated into the early hours.

Some opened early yesterday so visitors could enjoy a drink and food as the marathon came through the city centre.

Gordon McKinnon, city centre management chief executive, said: "The atmosphere in Manchester city centre is really quite electric now that the Games have begun.

"It has never looked better. The city's squares have never been so well used and people generally are getting into the spirit of the Games - Manchester is full of smiling faces."

A spokesman for the Games said: "The spirit of the Games together with the brilliant balmy days and evenings are creating an amazingly vibrant atmosphere in Manchester."

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