It’s National Picnic Month, a 31-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 – and some picture-perfect walks across Greater Manchester and Cheshire – 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.
Also, If you fancy skipping the picnic for some grilled food instead, try our pick of the best BBQ spots in the city centre.
Mayfield Park is 6.5-acre parkland with 142 trees, 120,000 shrubs and plants, with one of Manchester’s founding rivers, River Medlock, running through the middle. The new park features a sequence of spaces including a children’s play yard, a quiet contemplation zone, and a ‘wildscape’ for biodiversity. It’s a perfect city centre setting for a picnic.
Box on the Docks at Media City
Box on the Docks is the perfect spot for a nice picnic at Media City, offering a unique outdoor dining experience.
Set on the waterside Piazza, they operate a rotating residency of delectable food and drink pop-ups, with live music and events for all ages.
With community at its heart, Box on the Docks supports emerging local independents and artists as well as Salford Food Bank and the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity for ‘A Bed a Night’.
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 and water features. 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.
New Islington Marina
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 picturesque ornamental gardens, woodlands and a boating lake with lakeside dining domes, there’s no shortage of space for you to spread your picnic blanket in the biggest municipal park in Europe. Located in Prestwich, Heaton Park is 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, skateboard 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.
Haughton Dale is both rich in natural and industrial heritage. The woodlands host bluebells and are an important habitat for birds, including woodpeckers, owls and buzzards. There are also plenty of picnic tables dotted around too, so you can take in the scenic view that’s in the heart of nature whilst alfresco dining.
Burrs Country Park
Burrs Country Park forms part of the Irwell Sculpture Trial and offers three sculptures that art lovers can admire whilst eating outdoors.
Make a whole day out of the trip as you can also enjoy a post-picnic kayak on the lake, or check out Burrs Activity Centre to try your hand at archery.
Woodhill Road, Bury, BL8 1DA