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IT'S THE TIME OF YEAR when the long nights draw in, and darkness starts to fall on Manchester in the middle of the afternoon. Here are some seasonal images caught around dusk on recent trips into the city centre.

THE EUROPEAN AND GERMAN MARKETS returned to Manchester City Centre again in 2002, courtesy of Manchester City Council. In Albert Square and here in St Ann's Square you'll find a genuine 'Weihnachtsmarkt' with food, presents and lots more Chistmassy stuff with a European feel. You can also spend your euros here and I practiced my German.
EWM says: The European and German markets are a superb attraction in the run up to Christmas. I wonder if there are any 'English Markets' in Germany?
A 50 BUS waits at the traffic lights on the intersection of Oxford Street and Portland St, along with other traffic. Visible behind is the tower of the Palace Hotel (formerly Refuge Assurance Building).
EWM says: Most buses to south Manchester go from Piccadilly, Portland St, Princess St and Oxford Rd. If you're in the Castlefield, Deansgate or St Peters Square area, you have to walk quite a distance.
THE PALACE THEATRE has a continuous programme of shows - In the run-up to Christmas 2002 it's Beauty and the Beast. The wording says: "Disney's award-winning musical spectacular... The magic comes alive on stage..." The show runs from 24 October 2002 to 8 February 2003.
EWM says: It's great to see the Palace Theatre offering such great shows and to see busloads of visitors arriving from all over the north of England. The building was once under threat of demolition.
THE CONCRETE CURTAIN WALL in Piccadilly, erected as part of Manchester City Council's redevelopment of the area, stands next to the Metrolink lines and is illuminated at night by lights shining up from pavement level.
EWM says: The wall looks slightly better at night than it does during the day. Whether viewed by night or by day, it is an ugly intrusion, blocking sight lines and reducing Piccadilly's sense of space and openness. I now avoid Piccadilly Gardens, preferring to walk via Tib St and Dale St, or behind Piccadilly Plaza.
THE MANCUNIAN WAY at rush hour is busy with traffic. The buildings rise up against against a luminous dusk sky, while traffic forms a queue on the approach to the A56 underpass leading to Salford. This is the view from the new footbridge linking the districts of Hulme and Knott Mill. The bridge was opened in 2002. The Mancunian Way was built around 1968.
EWM says: The new bridge gives us some great views of the Mancunian Way and the city centre

THE MANCUNIAN WAY at rush hour, looking east towards the roundabout at the top of Princess Road. Traffic heading west is quite heavy. On the left, the blurred trails of rear lights indicate the cars are moving quite fast. The overhead sign on the left directs traffic to destinations far and near:

Chester via the A5103, Princess Road, leading to the M56; Birmingham via the same route, then the M6; G-MEX Centre, just two minutes drive to the left, and Manchester Ariport 9 miles to the south, also via the A5103/M56. Straight ahead it's Sheffield via this road, the A57(M), then the A616; Stockport is down the A6 and Ashton is on the A635. Congleton is down the A34 - the turn off is half a mile ahead and brings you on to Upper Brook Street. Local destinations are Ardwick, 1 mile, Piccadilly 1 mile and Belle Vue 3 miles. An additional sign points straight ahead to Sportcity.

EWM says: I use the Mancunian Way most days - I'm not keen on the westbound slip road from Upper Brook Street as you have to cross lanes very quickly.

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