It’s National Picnic Week, a 10-day initiative to encourage people to get outside, enjoy some sun and maybe a drink or three with their mates.
There are some surprisingly scenic places close to town, ideal for eating outside. So why not slap on the suncream, pack the picnic hamper, grab a blanket and enjoy some alfresco dining. This hot weather might not last long so make the most of it while you can.
PS If you fancy skipping the picnic for some grilled food instead, try our pick of the best BBQ spots in the city centre.
This former car park and bus station on the corner of Chapel Street and Victoria Bridge Street has been beautifully landscaped with illuminated fountains, plenty of seating, water features and a tiny, cosy coffee bar called Grindsmiths. It makes a great little nook to escape to for a workday picnic.
This little oasis behind House of Fraser is the place where St. Mary’s Church stood from 1756 until its last service in 1890. Designated as a conservation area in 1985, there’s a little lawn, flower beds and seating, and it’s surprisingly peaceful considering it’s not far from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. A number of nearby bars, including The Liquor Store and Revolution, ensure any picnic leads on to drinks too.
Take a walk into the heart of Castlefield and discover the Roman fort, a scheduled ancient monument from around 78AD and a great sun trap in good weather, and the Castlefield Bowl, an open public space with tiered outdoor seating ideal for a picnic. There are plenty of bars nearby plus The Oxnoble pub on Liverpool Road for liquid refreshment.
No Manchester picnic would be complete without a beverage originally brewed right here – Vimto. The first batch was made in 1908 by John Nichols at a factory on Granby Row, now close to The University of Manchester’s Engineering faculty just behind the Canal Street area. The gardens feature a monument in tribute to the fruity purple beverage, first carved by Kerry Morrison and installed in 1992. Surrounded by planted areas, it makes an ideal place to picnic in the sunshine.
There have been a number of seating areas installed along the regenerated part of the Ancoats Canal with some open seating on Redhill Street, just beyond the Northern Quarter. This means excellent views over the canal and surrounding area and it’s close to the stores and cafes of Ancoats too.
This communal garden just off Canal Street is nicely covered by trees if you fancy a bit of shade. Here you will also find the Alan Turing memorial and the Beacon of Hope – the only permanent memorial in the country for people who have lost their lives to HIV or AIDS and people who are living with it.
St John’s Gardens
A little haven of peace and quiet in the St John Street conservation area, just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Castlefield and Spinningfields. Plenty of grass, benches, trees and shade if you need it.
At over 600 acres complete with gardens, woodlands and a lake, there’s no shortage of space for you to spread your picnic blanket in the biggest municipal park in Europe. Easily accessible from the city centre, it even has its own tram stop.
Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens
Stretching all the way from Stenner Woods to the River Mersey, Fletcher Moss Park is like a pocket of countryside skirting the edge of the city. The botanical gardens in particular are a great place for a picnic. It’s brilliant for bird spotting too and there’s a café serving sweet and savoury treats so you can stock up for your picnic.
This pretty park complete with wildflower planters has lots of grassy green spaces and plenty of trees so you can soak up the sun or sit in the shade. There’s also plenty to keep the whole family occupied – with a play and games area, football pitch, skate board park and Tea Time Collective – a unique vegan café which will keep any picnic well-supplied.
Chorlton Water Park
No swimming pools or slides here but a big boating lake at the heart of a scenic park with wildflower meadows. Bring a picnic and enjoy a walk. You can even get onto the banks of the Mersey here and follow a trail to Sale Water Park, which is also well worth a visit.