The Manc Factor: our pick of the best open mic nights in Manchester


Open mic is one of the best ways to get into Manchester’s current musical and artistic scene –  not only does it offer valuable stage-time to performers of all kinds, these events are often the most relaxed and welcoming in the city – typically with free entry and a big welcome.

Anyone can get up on stage and share their talent, so why not give it a try. And it’s not just music – there are opportunities for comedy, spoken word, poetry and more.

There’s something going on every night of the week and it makes for a great evening’s entertainment. Why not try these for size?

Voodoo Mondays at Sandinista

There’s plenty to enjoy at the start of the week thanks to this chilled out session at Sandinista every Monday from 7pm. Three pre-booked artists perform every week and there’s an open mic slot in the first hour. The chilled out vibes makes this a great space for beginners and experienced alike with recent performers including Janileigh Cohen and Corella. There’s a fantastic cellar bar, too

Meantime at The Crafty Pig

With a number of open mic sessions and free Meantime Brewery beer for performers, what’s not to love about Mondays at The Crafty Pig?  Known for attracting quality Manchester bands like King Kartel, Café Misfits and Horla, Meantime Sessions is your weekly helping of open mic fun with everyone welcome to test out their talent.   Just turn up at 7pm and put your name down. You’ll be sure of a warm welcome

Open Mic at The Fitzgerald

Enjoy a showcase of talent inside this 1920s-style speakeasy bar which hosts an open mic session every Wednesday from 7pm where musicians and spoken word artists are invited to show their talents. A great venue for acoustics, jazz and swing acts – you’ll feel back in The Great Gatsby era in no time all. It’s followed by a brand new live night on Thursdays with a different themed cocktail list and music genre every week kicking off with Gin & Jazz. Will the next one be Rock and Rum? Stay tuned to find out.

New Music Collective Social at The Pen and Pencil 

Open mic opportunities as well as the chance to network with some of the most influential figures now in the Manchester music industry is happening at The Pen and Pencil. On the first Wednesday on every month from 7.30pm, this Manhattan-inspired bar and kitchen brings together new bands, established artists, record labels and anyone else who wants to come along. It’s all about creating a new music community, with notable supporters including Mark Lippmann of Scruff of the Neck Records, Hattie Pearson of Radio X and Charlotte Holroyd of Bittersweet Symphonies. This is the chance to experience new artists and connections in a live environment.

Show them what you’ve got at Shack

Expect a warm welcome at their open mic from 7pm till 11pm every Wednesday. Artists of all kinds can enjoy free entry and a drink on the house and it’s a great place to bring along  your fans (if you have any) as there are all night drink specials. With an in-house PA, microphones, monitor speakers and even an acoustic guitar provided, you can enjoy quality sound without the stress. No more trailing instruments across Manchester. It’s not just for musicians either. Shack welcomes a variety of performers including comedians, storytellers and poets.

Northern Live 

One of the freshest open mic events in the city, Northern Live is a new venue at the heart of the NQ determined to show that Manchester deserves to be number one when it comes to local musical talent. New and emerging artists are championed here in this specially-designed live venue with open mic sessions typically taking place on Wednesday and music showcases at the weekend. It’s an evening of treats every time and free to attend. Acts have included Affair in Havana and with upcoming artists including Cobalt Collison, it’s already proving highly popular. Now taking Thursday bookings, so get your name down.

City-famous open mic nights at The Whiskey Jar

This is one of those venues people pile in the door to do open mic for. The warm wooden interiors, chilled out vibe and specially-designed areas make performing at the Jameson Open Mic every Tuesday here a pleasure. They clearly care about creativity across genres here as they’ve recently tried out an ‘electronic exposure’ night for electronica artists to network and they also have ‘Boilermaker sessions’ live music in the basement on Thursdays as well as a fully-equipped room – The Still – for musical hire. Performers have included Tom Welsh and Olly Flavell.

Sunday sessions at The Bay Horse

Thomas Street favourite The Bay Horse boats one of the most relaxed open mic events in the city. ‘Sunday Sessions with Ellysse and Edwin’ is hosted by two talented local musicians and treats you to an evening of creative talent and especially good for those acoustics. Recent sessions have included performances from rising stars such as Katie O’Malley and Stephen Ballinger.


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