Wigan may not be as big as its near neighbour Manchester, but its name still resonates up and down the country. Some associate it with hedonistic northern soul nights at the Wigan Casino in the 1970s, some with the talents of the local rugby team. Whatever your idea of Wigan is, you'll find it a friendly town, proud of its heritage, passionate about its sport, and still a lively place for a night on the tiles.
The town centre lies to the north of both of Wigan's railway stations, and the streets around Wallgate and Market Street are home to a number of pubs, bars and restaurants. Much of the centre is pedestrianised, with shopping concentrated on two large indoor centres: the Galleries and the Grand Arcade. The latter was built on the site of Wigan Casino, home to the legendary northern soul all-nighters of the 1970s.
Wigan Pier, on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, was made famous by George Orwell's 1930s book The Road to Wigan Pier, an often grim depiction of life in an industrial town. Orwell would barely recognise the area today – its wharves and warehouses being redeveloped as a culture and heritage quarter. Those interested in the history of the town can visit the Museum of Wigan Life in the old library buildings, one of the places where Orwell researched his book.
Despite the relative success of rugby union team Wigan Athletic FC, who won the FA Cup in 2013, this is very much a rugby league town. Both sports find their home at the DW Stadium, but it is the Wigan Warriors who draw the biggest crowds.