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No visit to Manchester in the UK is complete without experiencing its thriving nightlife.
The city has a lively vibe, with over 600 restaurants serving up a raft of cuisines, breweries and tap rooms serving up local craft brews, cocktail bars, local pubs, and a live music scene that would rival any city in the world.
I’ve made this city my home over the past 3 years and here’s my low down on the top evening activities.
Where to stay in Manchester?
The city has accommodation to suit all needs and budgets, from youth hostels for those on a budget to it’s array of serviced apartments and hotels for those wanting a more luxurious trip. In order to properly experience the nightlife, you’ll want to stay close to Manchester city centre, here are a few suggestions:
- Budget – YHA Manchester Hostel
This modern clean hostel is my favourite choice for budget travellers in Manchester with cheap 4 bed dorm rooms and within walking distance of Manchester’s night life. Every time I stay here the staff and fellow travellers are some of the friendliest around.
- Mid range – Macdonald Manchester Piccadilly
The combination of a convenient location, comfortable beds and good breakfast make this my top pick for mid-priced accommodation in Manchester.
- Luxury – King Street Townhouse
If you need a little bit more luxury in your life, King Street Town House is a 4 star Manchester hotel that’s capturing the hearts of it’s guests. Get a comfortable night’s sleep in the premium rooms or gaze at Manchester marvellous and ever changing skyline from the 6th floor bar terrace or the comfort of the outdoor infinity pool.
Activities in Manchester at Night
Having lived in the city for 3 years, my top suggestions of things to do in Manchester at night are:
1. Junkyard Golf
Junkyard Golf has taken the UK by storm, and Manchester is no exception. It’s basically indoor golf but with bars scattered across the course and a healthy helping of UV lights.
This is my favourite group activity before a big night out in Manchester but works just as well for a date spot if you fancy wooing your date with your mini golfing skills.
2. Northern Quarter Bar Crawl
Manchester’s Northern Quarter is best described as the Shoreditch of the north of England. A trendy neighborhood with tons of quirky bars and restaurants which is why it’s my favourite area of Manchester for a bar crawl.
Some of my favourite bars to visit on a night in Manchester’s Northern Quarter are:
- Cane + Grain – With an offer of ribs, rum, beer and bourbon, Cane & Grain is one of the Northern Quarters liveliest venues. The ground floor bar is perfect for enjoying a beer after a day exploring the city whilst the upstairs bar is a little more clubby. The real gem is the hidden bar called science + Industry behind an unassuming door, head here for incredible cocktails.
- Soup Kitchen – By day there is a family friendly canteen where you can grab yourself some appetizing lunch, but in the evenings the basement is where the action can be found. Gigs and club nights can be found in this incredible music venue in Manchester’s northern quarter.
- Twenty Twenty Two – Ping Pong and beer, what’s not to love? Add a soundtrack of Hip-Hop, R&B, disco, garage and house and this lively venue has everything you need.
- Terrace NQ – With a raft of live music and DJ’s as well as a great rooftop terrace, this northern quarter bar is a must on any bar crawl.
3. Axe Throwing
Canadian style lumberjack axe throwing has arrived in Manchester thanks to the Whistle Punks who also have venues in London and Birmingham. Will you go for one hand or two You’ll quickly find that it’s all about the technique and not just how hard you can launch an axe at a target.
4. Speakeasy Bars
Speakeasy style hidden bars are making a comeback in recent days, with secret entrances and prohibition themes. This trend is booming in Manchester with more and more opening each year. Some of my favourite include:
- The Washhouse – Disguised as a launderette, you’ll need to make a reservation to ‘do your washing’ and upon visiting the washing machine will swing open, revealing an all encompassing cocktail bar inside. This speakeasy bar is so well concealed that they have to turn away regular visitors hoping to do their laundry
- Dusk til Pawn – From the outside you could mistake this bar for a pawn shop, but you won’t be trading in your nan’s old ring here. Once you get inside, get to grips with the bars on-theme cocktail menu, offering pawn-star martinis and a Rolex in the deep to name a few.
- Behind Closed Doors – Located in Manchester’s northern quarter, Behind Closed Doors has foregone the standard early 1900’s prohibition bar in favour of a more modern 70’s inspired theme. A self proclaimed ‘den of debauchery’, look out for velvet decor, old phones and TV’s as well as lots of old school adult photos. A favourite has to be the 50 shade of earl grey.
- Arcane Bar – If you’ve spotted the newest antique bookshop on King Street, you’ll be surprised to find out that it’s actually a cosy cocktail bar hidden down a stairway.
5. Jazz at Matt + Phreds
Matt & Phred’s has established itself as a firm favourite on the Manchester live music scene. Gigs are free to enter Monday-Thursday when the venue supports upcoming talent, with larger bands playing on Fridays and Saturdays for a £5 entry fee. The first Monday of every month sees a free blues jam where anyone can play or sing along with the house band.
6. Booze, Bands and Craft Brews on Peter Street
If you’re after a more upmarket night out, Manchester’s Peter Street is the place to head. A number of sophisticated bars offering a concoction of cocktails as well as live music venues and clubs to keep you partying through the night.
With the feel of a Bavarian beer hall, Alberts Schloss is always a good place to start your night. Located in the Manchester and Salford Wesleyan Mission building, Schloss has an indulgent menu and a vast selection of craft beers including some of it’s own brews. Entertainment is provided in the form of live music and DJ acts.
Other must-visit venues on Peter Street include Brew Dog for craft beer, Almost Famous for burgers and 20 Stories or Dirty Martini for cocktails.
7. Comedy Clubs
My favourite comedy club is The Frog and Bucket, showcasing some emerging talent from across the UK and credited with helping emerging Northern talent such Jason Manford, Johnny Vegas and John Bishop. Don’t heckle here, the small cosy venue means nobody is safe from the wrath of the comedians. Find out more about comedy clubs in Manchester.
8. Foodie Adventures
Manchester is awash with great food waiting to be discovered. from artisan cafes to food courts. A few of the best foodie places to visit are:
- Mackie Mayors – An old grade II building has been converted in to a huge food hall with a range of local vendors offering steak, pizza and sandwiches.
- Australasia – This pan-asian cuisine is a meat lovers delight with the BEST meat skewers and all sorts of other Japanese and Indonesian inspired dishes.
- Rudis – Pizza done the best way, the Neopolitan way. This is the number one spot in Manchester to get your pizza fix.
If you’d like to go on a gastro-adventure, Scranchester is the city’s most famous food tour. I’ve never tried it myself, but a few of my friends have been and highly recommend it.
Manchester’s infamous Haçienda nightclub may be long gone, but the clubbing scene is still alive and well with something for everyone.
Here are my top picks depending upon your taste:
Revs de Cuba – An upmarket Latino vibe has made this club one of the most popular places to dance until the early hours.
Warehouse Project – Unfortunately the Haçienda, one of Manchester’s most iconic venues, is no longer around, but the city still has a thriving dance music culture with The Warehouse Project at the centre. This club night runs for the last 3 months of the year in a huge warehouse near Piccadilly train station.
42’s – Indie vibes all over with non-chart music, funky wall art and always a good sing song.
Liars Club – One of Deansgate’s finest clubs with a tiki vibe and plenty of cocktails to go around.
Factory – This one’s for the students on the site of the old Factory Records.
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