Once upon a time, enjoying the fine weather in Manchester meant heading down to one of the waterside venues at Castlefield to catch a few rays. It’s still a favourite destination for those rare occasions when the sun decides to put its hat on, but these days it’s got competition from plenty of other places where, for a few days at least every year, you can eat, drink and get some vitamin D, too.
Traffic-free Castlefield’s the perfect place to relax on a hot day and Dukes 92 has recently reopened just in time for the summer months following a £1m refurbishment. The venue now has a new outdoor kitchen and bar as well as plenty of tables on the terrace for those sunnier days.
Always a popular place when the sun’s shining and it’s not hard to see why with its large canalside terrace and extensive drinks range – including six cask beers, 50 wines and more than 100 malts – complemented by a hearty food menu which is served until late.
Barca’s decked terrace is one of the largest in Manchester and they’ve got a great big BBQ ready for the summer. The central Castlefield location means you’re right in the thick of the action. Just close your eyes, relax and pretend you’re on your hols.
Alfresco eating and drinking got bigger and better when the Corn Exchange reopened for business late last year with plenty of places and lots of different cuisines on offer from the Mexican-inspired grub of Wahaca to the Vietnamese street food from Pho. A doddle to find something to suit your taste and appetite but more difficult to find a seat outside on the busiest days.
One of the Northern Quarter’s most well-known venues, Solita also has a beer garden located across the road from the restaurant. It may not provide the most inspiring of views but it’s still a good place to soak up some sun while devouring one of their trademark extravagant burgers.
The Marble Arch
The ever-popular Marble Arch is known for its ornate interiors but also has an outdoor seating area located through the back of the historic pub. It has a number of sturdy wooden tables and chairs with large parasols provided should the weather turn. Try one of their own beers or a bite to eat from their well-thought-out and innovative menu featuring modern takes on pub classics.
Located in the heart of the Northern Quarter, Rosylee bar/restaurant has a good-sized outdoor dining space on Stevenson Square which catches a lot of sunlight on those summer days making it the ideal spot for afternoon tea or a few cocktails with friends.
The Angel Pub
Not be one of the city’s most beautiful beer gardens – it’s next to a main road – but it’s a welcome addition in the heart of the city centre. Grab a pint of locally produced ale and soak up the sun. If you don’t fancy the views of the road, there’s also a separate enclosed terrace area.
Zouk Bar & Grill
Indian restaurant Zouk has you covered all year round with its stunning outdoor terrace. Featuring an electric roof, the terrace can be closed when the weather turns at the click of a button to ensure diners stay dry. A total of £200,000 has been invested to fit it out – and it shows.
Providing a taste of Thai street food, Thaikhun has an alfresco area with one very distinctive feature – a tuk-tuk! The menu includes traditional Thai favourites alongside a range of curries, salads and stir-fry dishes with vegetarians also well catered for.
The Lawn Club
Describing itself as an “English style garden oasis” in the heart of Spinningfields, The Lawn Club aims to bring a relaxing atmosphere to a corporate-heavy but a traffic-free area of the city. A decked area provides seating in the great outdoors and the lawned section features a barbecue which is lit when the weather permits.
The Oast House
Easily the most popular outdoor drinking destination in Spinningfields. Along with its rustic style building, there’s a large terrace area complete with tables and chairs. Try one of their famous hanging kebabs or craft beers from across the globe. It can get very busy on the warmest days at which point it does become standing room only.
Enjoy wonderful cocktails and light dishes on a large outdoor terrace on Hardman Square at the innovative bar which helped establish Spinningfields as the destination it is today.
Another fabulous Spinningfields outdoor drinking space with a view that not many establishments can boast of overlooking the river. Great selection of ales, craft beers and lagers and freshly prepared, cooked to order food with pies a speciality.
South Terrace at King St Townhouse
The south-facing terrace at King St Townhouse is probably Manchester’s highest sun trap with spectacular views of the city’s spires and rooftops and the clock tower of the town hall. It has an overhead canopy and two-way facing fire and is dressed with comfy alfresco furniture. It’s also heated for those summer days when the sun decides to take a day off. Inside the south terrace lounge is a large versatile space with solid wooden flooring, informal furnishings and a bespoke wooden bar. It’s also available for private hire for up to 150 guests for meetings and weddings.
Probably best known for their innovative pizza combinations (chips, cheese and gravy pizza anyone?), there’s a dining space out front with a collection of tables and chairs appearing when the sun comes out. The perfect spot for sampling one of their frozen cocktails.
The Black Cat at El Gato Negro
A relatively new addition to the city, El Gato Negro has been extremely popular since its launch earlier this year and although that’s mainly down to the excellent food, it also has a unique feature that’s probably helped pull in the punters – a dedicated cocktail bar complete with retractable roof terrace. The Black Cat has a Spanish-inspired drinks menu including twists and new takes on old favourites as well as a range of Spanish wines and sherry.
Mr Thomas’ Chop House
One of Manchester’s ever-popular historic pubs, this Cross Street boozer also has a gorgeous seating area at the rear next to St Ann’s Church. A relaxing spot for a few pints, a glass of wine or maybe some cracking grub from the seasonal menu of classic British cooking with a modern twist.
Rooftop Playground at the Great John Street Hotel
An elegant space located next to the Old Granada Studios, the rooftop space at Great John Street Hotel is one of the city’s best kept secrets. This south facing space features a residents area complete with hot tub and sun lounges, and another area that’s open to the public. It takes its name from the fact that it used to be a boys’ playground when the building was a school.
Enjoy Manchester’s waterways at this canalside pub. The large beer garden includes a patio area with tables and chairs but many patrons simply take their drinks and sit on the grass by the water when the sun comes out. Bliss.
Atlas stands out for two reasons – its gin selection and its roof terrace. It’s hidden away at the back of the bar so it’s not obvious from the outside that it’s there, but when you reach it you’ll find a comfortable space complete with a covered section which is ideal for a relaxing post-work G&T.
It’s not just a name. This NQ bar does have its own terrace. It’s less well known than some of the others in the area as it’s only open when the weather is fine, but when it is it’s a definite sun trap.
Many of Canal Street’s bars and restaurants feature alfresco areas and popular boutique hotel, restaurant and bar Velvet is no different. It’s one of the most popular venues in the area when the sun comes out and features a diverse menu catering to a range of dietary requirements.
Always a popular location on a Saturday morning, American-style breakfast and brunch restaurant Moose has a patio area outside if you want to dine al fresco. The perfect spot for pancakes and coffee.
This aesthetically impressive, four-star hotel provides not only a luxurious stay for its guests but also a relaxed space for non-residents to soak up the rays. There’s a cracking terrace overlooking HOME with seating for up to 60 people. Innside also serves excellent Mediterranean style food in an uncomplicated and unfussy way, “food for social mood” as they call it.
Cask, AKA the bright blue pub across the road from MOSI, may not look like it has an outdoor space from the front but looks can be deceptive. Through the pub, you’ll find large glass doors leading to a small terrace area outside. Although Cask doesn’t serve any food, they’re happy for you to bring in chips from across the way if you’re looking to dine al fresco.
The Britons Protection
If you can bear to leave its olde worlde charm behind, The Britons Protection has an alfresco beer garden which catches a decent amount of sun. The perfect spot for sampling a few of their 300 whiskies.
Port Street Beer House
This craft beer favourite now has not one but two outdoor areas. Through the back of the pub, you’ll find an enclosed garden with benches and tables which is very popular when the sun shines, while further seating is available on the street out front.
Sinclair’s Oyster Bar/The Old Wellington
Easily Manchester’s most famous garden, this space shared by the two historic buildings next to the Corn Exchange is where you’ll find drinkers flocking to as soon as the sun makes an appearance. The location combined with the bargain-priced beer at Samuel Smiths’ pub Sinclair’s means it’s always busy when there’s decent weather.
Grand Pacific (Australasia)
You don’t even have to close your eyes to feel like you’re on holiday at this beach house cum plantation balcony. The ideal spot to make the most of the fine weather. Grand by name, grand by nature.
Grill on New York Street
Outside canopied area with white wicker chairs and comfy cushions close to Piccadilly – perfect for no-nonsense food alfresco. Equipped with heat lamps for that sudden drop in temperature that’s often just around the corner.
The Lowry Hotel
Another great spot overlooking the Irwell but from the Salford side of the river. The open-air terrace is a pretty special place for a bottle of something fizzy in the summer sunshine. And we don’t mean pop.
Restaurant Bar & Grill
Restaurant Bar & Grill is a very fine place to chow down on a burger with a great outdoor terrace that stretches the length of the restaurant. There’s an outside mini-bar for your convenience and heaters that are powerful enough to keep you warm in the middle of winter.
DoubleTree by Hilton
An ideal spot for a few glasses of bubbly if you need an escape from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly. For the spectacular, there’s also the SkyLounge, the private penthouse dining facility that has amazing views across Manchester made even better by the outdoor lounge area.
Piccolino Caffè Grande
Recently reopened with perfect timing following a £1.3m refit – just in time to catch the fine weather Enjoy fine Italian dining on the outside terrace facing Albert Square. Open from 7am and cater for allergy sufferers
The Lounge offers spectacular, wrap-around views of the Manchester skyline and a series of wonderful terraces with a quite superb view of our fair city with lots of mini-seating and booth areas. The terraces here are lawned and adorned with enormous wicker chairs that you never want to get out of – especially after a couple of cocktails
Another Spinningfields venue where you can eat, drink and be merry in a traffic-free environment
Great Northern Warehouse
Nice open space where you can eat and drink in the sunshine away from the Deansgate traffic courtesy of All Star Lanes, Almost Famous and other residents of this magnificent Victorian building.
A pop-up summer bar outside the Dockyard at MediaCity, The Shack serves cocktails and Caribbean-inspired dishes which can be enjoyed on one of the deckchairs provided on the grass. It gets very popular on warmer days, so get there early if you’re hoping to bag a few seats.