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Welcome to Manchester! The ultimate student guide to the city

For the next few years the capital of the North will be your home from home...

Welcome to Manchester! So you’ve made it to Manchester to study for your degree. Congratulations.

Manchester has one of the largest student populations of any city in the country. In fact, Manchester is the top city outside London for attracting students and September sees the return of Freshers’ Week.

There are four major universities in the Greater Manchester Area – The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Salford and the University of Bolton – as well as 22 other universities less than an hour away by car from the city. If you are new: hello and welcome.

With over 99,000+ students across the four big institutions alone, student demand is high – but thankfully Manchester has proved itself as a city well-suited.

But a real Mancunian education isn’t complete without sampling some of the best bar and club culture the city has to offer.

For the next few years the capital of the North will be your home from home, and although within time you will feel like you own the city, right about now you probably feel like a small fish in a very big pond. Let I Love Manchester guide you on how to have the best Fresher’s Week, with our essential welcome to student life in Manchester and discounted tickets available at Skiddle.

With 99,000+ students spread between three universities, Manchester boasts one of the largest student populations of any city in Europe. The University of Manchester, with its spectacular Victorian neo-Gothic architecture and world class facilities, is the city’s main student hive, with the main campus located on Oxford Road and further buildings in the city centre. A stone’s throw away from The University of Manchester, also on Oxford Road, is MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University), while The University of Salford lies a five minute bus ride out of the other side of the city centre.

Here’s a guide to the areas of Manchester most privy to you students and a few must do venues in fresher’s week:

Manchester’s student areas


Many of you will be living in the studentsville that is Fallowfield, so naturally will take to drinking here. There’s a great selection of student pubs, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and even a comedy club – with none of those nasty taxpayers around to spoil the fun. Even if you don’t live in Fallowfield you’ll definitely find yourself making the trip down here regularly to soak up the atmosphere at the heart of the student action.

The Northern Quarter

While Manchester’s bohemian quarter is fast being discovered by the hordes, there are still plenty of cool, independent bars which haven’t yet been tinged by the dreaded ‘mainstream’. The main concentration of bars in the N4 are focused around the High Street/Thomas Street crossroads, but wander over to Tib Street and Oldham Street where you’ll be rewarded with some great bars and clubs and a slightly more laid back vibe.

Oxford Road

Beginning at MMU’s All Saints campus and heading all the way down to central Library, the Oxford Road corridor is awash with great bars and venues, and tends to carry the same laid back spirit as the Northern Quarter but with a slightly more ‘studenty’ vibe. The Deaf Institute, Kro2, Odder, and Sound Control are all generally safe bets for a great night and good crowd.

Deansgate Locks

Opposite Deansgate Train Station you’ll find ‘The Locks’ – a row of swanky bars housed in converted railway arches. You’ll love it or hate it.


As a student, you probably won’t have much need or desire to drink on Deansgate. But if you do fancy blowing your loan on overpriced drinks and footballer-spotting, head to WAGtastic bars such as The Living Room, Panacea (on John Dalton Street just off Deansgate) or Cloud 23, 23 floors up the landmark Hilton Tower.

The Gay Village

Canal Street offers a continental style, with drinking and partying taking place on the old cobbled street.

Whether you were born here or drawn here, if you need somewhere to store your stuff whilst you’re up and about taking part in all of these wondrous activities, check out Manchester Self Storage. With their fabulously handy students packs, you can get the boxes delivered to and from your house, at whatever date you need it. Store as little as one box for up to 26 weeks, and get it delivered right to your door when you’re done. Check out their student offers here. They’ll see you right.

Things for students to see and do in Manchester

There’s a reason Manchester is called the capital of the north. There are tons of interesting attractions from vintage stores to museums  for newbies to check out. Time to tick a few off your list.

Freshers’ Week at Hatch

Hatch is an innovative venue consisting of multiple traders, tucked under the Mancunian Way and ideally placed for students – located close to MMU, The University of Manchester and RNCM. Monday 17th September sees Leeds-based club night Fuzzy Logic put on a free party 11am until 4pm, a Bombard Groove pre-party on 19th September, and from 20th-22nd September Reform Radio will be taking over Hatch, with Reform residents playing tunes and an all-female DJ workshop on Friday 12pm-2pm.

Also on Friday is Rhythm Lab Live, the chance to watch two musical artists who previously haven’t met, come together for four hours to create an original piece of music incorporating the environment around them. The weekend features a Double Deer X Sprechen Takeover, whilst Sunday is ‘Relax Time’. Even better, Hatch is full of innovative food and drink traders to fuel you throughout.


Street art

Why not explore the city’s most diverse area and have a gander at some of the coolest street art murals in the north? The walls are covered in paint, with bees flying across many walls, and the streets shine bright with colour.

Each time you walk by you will spot something different, from murals of Mancunian musicians to sassy slogans sprawled across the kerbside.

And, of course, most famously, the Northern Quarter is home to some of the greatest works by the artist Akse P19, who has created images of Ariana Grande, David Bowie and even Arya Stark. He knows his crowd for sure.

Take a stroll – but don’t forget your camera.


You can’t say you’ve been to Manchester till you’ve visited Afflecks. The iconic building has stood as a stylish shopping emporium in the Northern Quarter since 1982, and remains a must visit destination for tourists and newcomers.

Four floors of vintage fashion, cafes, quirky clothes stores, accessories, piercing studios. Anything you could possibly think of, it’s there. This place really is an indie kids heaven.

Check it out and grab yourself some quirky bargains. Or maybe a tattoo. Who knows how daring you can be?

Science and Industry Museum

For anyone more interested in the history of the city, the Science and Industry museum on Liverpool Road offers an interactive and super enjoyable experience as you learn about how the city contributed to modern science.

From the discoveries of Alan Turing to modern medicine, you can learn about it all here – and get something cute from the gift shop, too.


Time to get active, grab some drinks and make some new friends. And where better to do it than…

Manchester Arndale Student Social

On 24th September, Manchester Arndale’s Student Social returns for another year. It’s  every student’s dream, and with up to 40% off various stores and 50% off food and drink throughout the Arndale, you’ll have discounts coming out your ears. What a way to break in the student loan. Running from 12-8pm, you have a whole evening to splurge, so it’s time to pick out some decor for your room, grab some stylish garms and stock up on stationery, because you definitely don’t want to miss out on this.

Keep an eye out for Manchester Arndale’s twitter and facebook pages to see which stores are offering a discount – and don’t forget your student ID.



If you’re looking to get really active, why not try your luck at a bit of baseball? Base is home to the only baseball batting cages in the north, each named after the most famous baseball playing fields in America. But it doesn’t matter if you’re not a hardcore fan, you’re more than welcome to just bat a few balls about and score a few points. Go head to head with friends, smash out some home runs on your own, or simply just watch your pals play.  Not everyone has the best aim, it’s okay.

Base also serve snacks and drinks, so you can munch on hot dogs, pretzels and even twizzlers – whatever gets your head in the game. Maybe a beer? Or how does ‘2 for 1 cocktails’ sound?

Even better, just pop in the code STUDENT18 when booking online and you get 25% off – if you bring your student ID with you, of course.

Ey badda badda ey badda badda swing.


Royal Exchange

What was once a commodities exchange is now a shopping emporium full of some of the finest brands to be found in Manchester. The beautifully historic building is home to stores such as Lush, Lanigan and Hulme, and Swarovski. We hear what you’re saying… ‘I can’t afford luxury!’. Fret not, dear freshers, for a whole range of shops in the Exchange will be offering discounts for students throughout freshers week.

Students get 20% off everything in store (apart from stamps, carrier bags and sale products) at Scribbler for two weeks only. Prepare for the winter months with 10% off everything at Whittard of Chelsea, or grab yourself 10% off a school bag from Fjallraven. Funky shoe store lululemon and designer-fashion brand French connection will also be offering a 15% discount during freshers week, so you can get a whole swanky new wardrobe for a fraction of the price. Last but not least, on 24th September, The Body Shop will be hosting their very own Student Event, offering 25% discount alongside skin care advice, makeovers, and free goodie bags for the first 100 customers. Time to get your shopping pants on folks.



Often described as Manchester’s creative village, mini-market Hatch is something you must tick off your to-do list. It’s got loads of independent food stalls, clothing stores and the cutest plant shop you ever did see.

The Mindful store showcases some of the most innovative and sustainable products for environment junkies, and Beer Box sell, well, beer. And some pretty good beer too.

But Hatch isn’t just a market, it’s a community of creatives and a host too. Coming up in September: an all-day disco party with free entry and some of the best upcoming DJs on the Manchester music scene, pilates and yoga sessions for you to stretch out that stress, and an open mic night on 25th September. Go on, get your karaoke on.

And, most importantly, on 15th September Hatch will be hosting its very own Student Sunday, offering starter packs for students, freebies and a whole range of student discounts from selected Hatch traders, alongside DJ sets and a live performance from Ramona Rose. And it’s FREE. Check out their facebook page for more information.


Manchester River Cruises

If you really want to push the boat out (pun intended), why not set sail on a Manchester River Cruise and see Manchester and Salford from the water? You can jump on the soul cruise, 90s throwback cruise, gin cruises (yum) or just have a general tour of the riverside. No matter the theme, it’s the perfect activity to share with your family before you bounce off and leave them for three years. Visit their website to see what special trips they’ve got coming up in time for freshers.

Live music

If you’ve made the decision to spend your formative years in Manchester, then we’ll assume that part of this decision may have been down to Manchester’s global reputation for live music. And while the Madchester days may be over (thankfully, some might say), the city continues to produce incredible local talent, as well as being a major stop off on the touring schedules of every band.

From the cavernous Manchester Arena to the dark, intimate vibes of Night and Day cafe, Manchester is overflowing with live music venues – and it’s not hard to find a gig to attend on any night of the week. The University Campus is host to the three Academy venues of varying sizes, as well as The Deaf Institute next to MMU’s All Saints campus, which is one of Manchester’s finest independent music venues with an excellent line-up of gigs. In town you’ll find gigs at The Roadhouse, Band on the Wall, Soup Kitchen, Sound Control, Night and Day, and The Castle Hotel. And with more and more bars hosting gigs and live music nights there really is an overwhelming abundance of venues to find your live music fix.

The Warehouse Project

A relative newcomer to the Manchester after-dark scene, The Warehouse Project began in 2006 and has quickly established itself as one of the leading club nights in the world. In case you’ve never heard of it (what, really?), it’s a series of club events that runs from September to Christmas every year, taking over a vast underground space beneath the arches of Picadilly Railway Station. If you’re new to Manchester, make sure you get yourself to at least one of these events – not least because this is the WHP’s final season in its current Store Street location and your last chance to experience the unique atmosphere there.

Even if you’re not a dance music junkie, there are plenty of events to cater for all tastes – from hip hop to pop and drum n bass to indie.

Check out a full list of Warehouse Project events.


One of Manchester’s longest standing and best loved club nights, Funkademia takes place every Saturday at Mint Lounge on Oldham Street (in the Northern Quarter). With a varied music policy including soul, hip-hop, funk and house past and present, it’s a great place to get your glad rags on and dance the night away to an ever changing roster of first-rate DJs.

See a list of upcoming Funkademia events and buy advance discount tickets here.

Sound Control

With an events schedule as diverse as the city it calls home, Sound Control is a three level bar, club and live music venue which opened in early 2010 and has been busy establishing itself as one of the best club venues in town. With club nights covering everything from jungle to dubstep and funky house to drum n bass, there’ll be an event to suit you and your mates no matter what you’re into.

Check out a full list of Sound Control events and book your tickets through Skiddle.

Student bars and pubs

Whilst the majority of new students are happy to be freshers and head out in mass herds, after those initial weeks of luminous drinks and cringy small-talk you’ll want to venture out of Fallowfield to somewhere a bit different. Somewhere with character, somewhere with non-freshers and classier alcoholic beverages. So if you’re in need of some culture and an alternative to the SU bar, here are Tom Ingham’s selection of places to check out.

Joshua Brooks

Situated next to two student favourites (Factory and Fifth), Joshua Brooks caters for lots of different occasions. Firstly, if you want to watch the football somewhere that takes it seriously, this is the place – audible commentary, multiple screens and a projector make this the place for those who want to enjoy sport uninterrupted. But I don’t want to paint JB as a masculine sports bar; inside it’s comfortable, spacious and cool with a great selection of spirits (particular whiskies), cocktails and ales for very reasonable city-centre prices if you take time to peruse the deals menu. Not one to ignore nightlife, their basement plays host to an eclectic mix of club nights including Manchester’s most established Hip-Hop night, Juicy.

In short: Jack of all trades, master of football.

106 Princess St, Manchester M1 6NG

The Courtyard

Brick-walled sports bar offering loads of TVs, pub grub and a heated beer terrace.

2 Chester St, Manchester M1 5SH

The Footage

Spacious pub in a former cinema, with big-screen sport, beer-and-burger deal and dance floor.

Grosvenor St, Manchester M1 7DZ

Friendship Inn

Local pub with an outdoor bar and patio, screening live sport and popular with local students.

353 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M14 6XS

Yes Bar

“Four floors of YES”

38 Charles St, Manchester M1 7DB


Individually styled chain bar with a global menu of comfort-food classics and nightly happy hours.

90-94 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 5WH

Dog Bowl

Dog Bowl

Tex-Mex food, five full-length bowling lanes and beer is what makes the Dog Bowl the go to for a casual night of fun with friends and if that’s not enough they’re also giving away some big prizes for freshers week. If anyone’s stealing the show in the bowling alley then they clearly haven’t had enough to drink! *Please drink responsibly and don’t take bowling too seriously.

In short: Beers, burgers and bowling.

Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5WW

The Castle Hotel


You’ll learn quickly that the Northern Quarter is one of those places that people either love or pretend they think is hipster but actually really like, too. While there’s a lot on offer here, we recommend a NQ original, a pub bursting with character, atmosphere and great music. The Castle Hotel at the bottom of Oldham St is a pub that opens later than most in the area – you can normally get served up till 2am on a weekend – with a range of cask ales, lagers and spirits to satisfy even the pickiest of drinkers. The pub is home to not one, but two great jukeboxes that are virtually idiot proof as long as you don’t hog them. The Castle is also renowned for gigs, from budding locals to real acoustic treats. We actually saw Lily and Madeleine grace this great little venue a few years back.

In short: Jukebox, gigs, beer, open late. Proper pub filled with people of all ages.

66 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE

Twenty Twenty Two

Twenty Twentytwo

Tucked away off Dale St, Twenty Twenty Two is a basement bar that never fails to delight. Essentially, there’s a bar stocked with cocktails, prosecco, ale, lager etc and then there’s two rooms of ping pong tables. Before you start swinging a bat in one hand whilst holding your drink in the other, you pay a small fee for the table and a time slot. This stops table hoggers. When not playing host to some of the worst table tennis you’re likely to ever see, it acts as a cultural space for almost anything so it’s well worth checking their events listing.

In short: Alcohol and table tennis make for a lot of fun.

20 Dale St, Manchester M1 1EZ

The Washhouse

The Washhouse Manchester Secret 6

First things first. Though not as inconspicuous as has been made out, but with two washing machines and a fairly understated front, The Washhouse is still able to surprise and stay true to its ‘hidden and secret’ image. Venture inside and there’s a strong selection of cocktails and an emphasis on customer service. Staff take the time to learn about your tastes and recommend drinks based on your preferences.

In short: Impress on dates and celebrate in style.

Smithfield Tavern


Manchester’s craft beer scene is booming and if you’re at all interested in sampling the best the area and the UK has to offer, then a trip to this Blackjack brewery-owned pub is a must. Situated near another craft institution, the Crown and Kettle, the Smithfield Tavern is a spacious and relaxed bar in Ancoats that boasts some quirky pub games and, of course, superb beer.

In short: Beer, beer, and more beer. And board games.

37 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JZ

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