Manchester is known for its music, culture and a hell of a night out. Like any other cool city, it has many unique districts, quarters, areas or whatever you want to call them. Someone has even tried to create sub-quarters, distinguishing the ‘hipper’ parts of each. We find this a bit OTT but hey, it is Manchester.
The characteristics of each area are quite diverse. You’ll notice you’ve wandered outside of the barriers just by the way people dress, the drinks served and the overall aesthetics of the place. Once you cross over, it’s like a completely different world.
I’ve found that if you’re new in town, your entire fate in Manchester is dependent on where you are first told to go out. The amount of people I’ve met that have ‘been to Manchester’ and hated it because for some insane reason they were told to go out in the Printworks is actually offensive.
If you are a bit stuck on what to do and where to go, let’s talk districts.
Developed in the 2000’s, Spinningfields has become one of Manchester’s chic and premier places to drink, dine and party as it’s now filled with a plethora of Manchester’s finest restaurants and bars. If you’re looking for somewhere a bit more upscale than your local pub, head on down. Located off of Deansgate in the heart of the city, Spinningfields is host to the award winning Australasia; a stylish but laid back slice of modern Australian life serving gourmet cuisine alongside an incredible cocktail bar. Other spots we love include Thaikhun; one of the newer additions to the development, Thaikhun serves up authentic Thai street food in an ever so cool venue. It’s as if you are walking straight into Bangkok. Just looking for drinks? Try The Alchemist for scientific cocktails, Neighbourhood for a bit of New York City flare (pocket squares mandatory), The Oast House for beers and laid back vibes, or Manchester House for cocktails with a view.
Spinningfields is about to get even more cosmo. Coming from London, popular Spanish themed bar/restaurant Iberica is opening in March, bringing the atmosphere of Madrid’s famous terrace culture to Manchester. What’s more, we’re really excited about the arrival of the ultra unique Tattu in April – a celebration of the origins of body art and modern Chinese presentations.
Throughout the year, Spinningfields plays host to a slew of seasonal events. Catch a flick at Screenfields, spin around the outdoor ice rink over Christmas, or enjoy an incredible line up of live music, parties and festivals.
Stay up to date with what’s going on: spinningfieldsonline.com
The Northern Quarter Part 1
When you think of Manchester, you think ‘cool’ and the Northern Quarter is just that. Jam packed with vintage shops, record stores and almost too many bars, restaurants and cafes. That exposed brick we all love? There is no shortage of that here. Quirky cocktail bars like Apotheca, Keko Moku and Cane & Grain dominate the scene with carefully crafted drinks by the some of the best barmen in the city. You will know you’ve arrived the moment you step into the NQ. The hair styles are ‘different’, the buildings are adorned with street art, the posters become more eclectic in design. Oh, and you’ll notice that every man has a beard.
Like to follow food trends? The NQ is the place to go to find all your latest foodie spots. From American style burger joints like Almost Famous to healthy and organic food destinations like Earth Café.
Where to go for a dance? Check out Cane & Grain and Terrace on Thomas Street. Always packed, always jammin’, always fun.
*Late Night Tip* For after hours fun, head on over to Blackdog Ballroom. Open til’ 4am.
The Northern Quarter Part 2
You may be a little bit confused as to why the Northern Quarter has been broken up in two… Let me explain…The Northern Quarter Part Two covers the area South of Stevenson Square. This is the newer, more sophisticated side of the NQ. I mentioned the Printworks earlier…Well, it sometimes overflows into NQ Part One. Mainly on the weekends that is.
In the NQ Part Two you will find mainly young professionals, creatives and some office type people that are sick of Spinningfields and want to relax. The main strip of this area is Tariff Street. After only a few years playing host to some of the best bars in the city, it has become increasingly popular every week it’s around! On Tariff Street you’ll find The Whiskey Jar, El Capo and Kosmonaut. Three completely unique bars. How can you go wrong with whiskey, tequila and beer? Over the next 6 months there are said to be over 5 new bars opening in the direct vicinity. We’ll see how this plays out!
Now… The Locks is a funny one. If you are over 22, ignore this section. I will admit that I have been. I’ve had an alcopop on the terrace and danced my tooshie off until the early hours of the morning. This was a while ago, but it was fun. If you’re young and fun, wild and free, head down to Deansgate Locks and grab a flaming zombie at Lola Lo’s and party til’ you just don’t care at Revolution.
Love gin? Arguably not part of ‘The Locks, hop over the road to Atlas Bar. Known as Tony Wilson’s favourite hangout and they have over 130 gins!
*Top Tip* If you’re looking for somewhere to lounge in the sunshine, every bar on Deansgate locks has plenty of outdoor seating to soak up some rays!
Oxford Road & its surrounds
Referred to as Manchester’s ‘Southern Quarter’ or ‘Student Quarter’, Oxford Road has a lot to offer! A two mile stretch from St. Peter’s Square all the way down to Rusholme. Now obviously, with University of Manchester, UMIST, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Royal Northern College of Music all on or around Oxford Road, it is clearly a student destination. Accomodating for all ages, concert and gig goers also frequent the area as it is home to The Manchester Academy, RNCM, Gorilla, Black Dog NWS, Black Dog Bowl, The Dancehouse, The Ritz and Contact Theatre as well as smaller independent music venues.
Check out staples like Temple Bar and The Thirsty Scholar for a classic Manc’ night out. If you’re out with your classmates on a budget; head over to the Garratt for cheap drinks a bangin’ homemade burger! For all the hipsters out there, we love Deaf Institute. Not only does there always seem to be a rockin’ gig on, their club nights go nuts!
Located in the centre of Manchester and referred to by most as ‘The Village’ or ‘The Gay Village’, Canal Street is always buzzing. Not only is the area popular for the city’s gay population, you’ll also find cheap and cheerful bars and some of the best nightclubs in Manchester. Head over to G-A-Y, a multi level nightclub that always gets the dance moves flowin. Been out all night and looking for somewhere to keep on groovin? Head over to AXM and party til 5:30am!
Throughout the summer, Canal Street lends itself well to all your daytime drinking needs! Sit back, relax and watch the world go by.
Not to be confused with ‘The Locks’, is the centre of Manchester’s nightlife. Home to the trendiest bars in the city, restaurants and designer department stores, Deansgate is the place to be for a real ‘night on the town’. First things first, if you’re planning on hitting The Living Room, The Botanist, The Milton Club, Elixir or Cloud 23 for cocktails, dress to impress. You won’t get in wearing Converse. Can’t find your dress shoes? There are tons of pubs to crawl in and out of in less formal attire.
Towards the Castlefield end of town, Mr Manchester’s (aka Tony Wilson) regular haunt, Atlas Bar, is a wonderful space and stocks over 130 different gins. It’s pretty convivial on Saturday nights, especally with the tastful football crowd after a game.
Deansgate also has a rockin’ late night scene for those of us after a bit of a debaucherous night… The Liquor Store, just off the beaten track, is a no-nonsense Mancunian oasis. MOJO’s is great for late night rock & roll, table dancing and throwing back shots and if you dare, head downstairs to Liar’s Club for flaming tiki cocktails and the grooviest tunes – that you probably won’t remember.
A relatively new nightlife destination, The Great Northern, located on Deansgate just keeps getting better. Start your night gazing across the city from the terrace of Epernay whilst sipping world class champagne and cocktails, catch a flick at AMC or bowl your heart out at All Star Lanes! The Great Northern attracts people of all ages with a huge range of food, drink and activities to do!
Craving a greasy burger? Head to Almost Famous. A Mexican fiesta? Grab a couple margaritas and a burrito at Lucha Libre. The building also is the newest host of Chris Legh’s ‘BEAT STREET MANCHESTER’, a street food festival which now runs every Friday throughout the whole year. Watch this space because we’ve heard there’s only more to come!
One can argue that Peter Street’s establishments, opposite the Great Northern complex, are part of the collective. You’ve got Revolucion De Cuba for some lively cocktails and convivial Cuban flare. There’s the sumptuous Club Liv serving sophisticated drinks to sophisticated clubbers and then there’s Brew Dog for a serious and tastful approach to beer and hops.
One of the most scenic areas of Manchester, Castlefield is both stylish and sophisticated. Situated alongside the Bridgewater and Rochdale Canals, it is host to a plethora of restaurants and bars as well as the Museum of Science and Industry and the old Roman Fortress on Liverpool Road. Go for a curry at Akbars or sample an array of guest ales at Cask. Castlefield really thrives in the summer months, so if you’re looking for somewhere to laze in the sun, Castlefield has some of the best beer gardens in town. Head over to The Wharf for a classy traditional style pub or to Duke’s where by day is the perfect family friendly hang out and by night transforms into the ultimate bar and grill.
Tips from an experienced Manchester party animal…
- If heading out in the Northern Quarter for just a drink, don’t wear stilettos. It won’t be one drink and your shoes will probably end up on the back bar at Hula Tiki Lounge… Covered in rum and cinnamon.
- Don’t ever set yourself a home time… This is a sure way to end up in Blackdog or Liar’s Club in a complete state.
- If, by 2am, you can no longer stand, head over to Pearl City in Chinatown and stuff your face with carbs, carbs and more carbs.
- Know that the best nights out are always the ones that start out with ‘a quiet one after work’.