MANCHESTER: An insider’s guide to the ultimate lads weekend in ‘Madchester’
A city awash with bustling bars and cosmopolitan clubs, the buzz of Manchester is contagious. This vibrant destination has drinking and dining venues spread across a dozen districts, meaning there really is something for everyone in this diverse city. Music, football and cracking nights out are what this place does best – what more could you want from your stag weekend?
Manchester at a glance:
• Experience the hustle and bustle of this multicultural city
• Enjoy an extensive pub crawl from the traditional pub stops around the Town Hall to the hipster hangouts of the Northern Quarter
• Spice up your night with a visit to the famous ‘Curry Mile’, perfect for dining out in style or grabbing some post-club grub
• Visit the trophy-laden homes of Manchester’s famous rival football clubs, United and City
• Get ‘mad fer it’ in the home of Oasis and the Stone Roses, or snap a selfie outside the iconic Salford Lads Club made famous by The Smiths
Manchester has enough pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants to keep things interesting for months let alone a weekend. You’ll be spoilt for choice as you pick between quiet evenings spent fine dining or wild nights at the vivacious nightspots. Famous for its musical heritage and footballing success, this is a city proud of its history but never afraid to innovate when it comes to keeping you entertained.
A vibrant bohemian area and home to numerous independent bars and pubs. The Northern Quarter is also famed for its reputation in live music, playing host to both up-and-coming and established acts across a range of genres.
Manchester Town Hall
Located around the Town Hall you will find a mix of traditional pubs, underground clubs and sophisticated wine bars. With something to match all tastes, this area is popular with local workers and shoppers who want to unwind after a hard day on their feet.
Canal Street & The Gay Village
Here you will find one of the most famous collections of gay, lesbian and bisexual bars and clubs, not only in Manchester but, in the world. Popular with gay and straight men and women alike, particularly on the weekends it’s a welcoming and vibrant party spot.
This mile-long road joins the university to the city centre, serving Europe’s largest student population (and non-academic visitors) with a host of bars and drinking venues. Expect plenty of budget-friendly drinks offers.
The Printworks & Millennium Quarter
If you’re looking for indoor entertainment, head to The Printworks complex , which features 12 huge chain bars and clubs along with traditional pubs. If you’re feeling peckish, there’s something for everyone here, menus range from American and British to Oriental, Mediterranean and Mexican.
Deansgate & Deansgate Locks
Wander the mile-long stretch that runs through the city centre and you will pass a handful of the most iconic and glamorous Manchester bars, gathered near the Phones 4u Arena and designer boutiques. At the southern end of Deansgate you will find the 10 railway arches on ‘The Locks’ which are home to further popular bar and club chains – often the go-to area for visitors to the city.
Arguably the most beautiful part of the city centre, Castlefield boasts a range of independent bars and traditional canalside pubs, with striking new apartment blocks all around. If the weather is nice, expect a big crowd making the most of the al fresco drinking opportunities.
Peter Street & Spinningfields
Another busy district, Peter Street & Spinningfields was once known for its cheesy party venues but has since been transformed into the home of stylish champagne bars and sophisticated cocktail venues. Designer shops and swanky office blocks also populate the area.
Piccadilly & Portland Street
These two streets meet half way at Piccadilly Gardens and bring together a selection of swanky hotels, reliable bar chains and other stylish but informal places to party.
If you’re exploring outside of the city centre, three miles way you will come across the huge collection of independent bars in Chorlton. An excellent stop for those who prefer individual venues as opposed to chains. Home to musicians galore and teeming with boho hipsters.
This is student alley just four miles outside of the city centre, with a huge collection of bars and takeaways serving the huge undergrad population.
For those looking to explore the trendy suburbs of south Manchester even further, five miles out of the city centre is the leafy area of Didsbury. Essentially made up of two distinct areas, West Didsbury boasts a unique collection of independent bars, shops and restaurants, while Didsbury Village offers bigger name chain pubs and bars and traditional boozers.
The new home of the BBC and a huge chunk of Manchester’s media industry, Salford Quays has enjoyed huge For those visiting Old Trafford, The Lowry or Manchester’s Media City, you will find a collection of chain bars at Salford Quays.
Manchester’s best bars
The Alchemist, New York Street
This is what happens when fantastic craft beers and magically molecular cocktail-making get together to party in one of Manchester’s best looking bars. The Alchemist is brilliant, does drinks in smoking potion bottles (a lot cooler and less embarrassing than they sound) and there’s a great outdoor terrace too. thealchemist.com
The Liars Club, 19A Back Bridge Street
Call it a Speakeasy, call it a dive, call it what you like, it’s Manchester’s premier tiki and rum bar and it lives in a basement – where else? With over 100 different rums, this is where the city’s barkeeps drink in their downtime, so it’s always good, guaranteed.
Liquorice, 50 Pall Mall (off King Street)
Laid back Liquorice right in the heart of the city feels more like a private club than one of the city’s most popular bars. Great selection of bottled ales and the prices are shockingly good considering the location. They even have big, squashy sofas undercover outdoors.
Rosso, 43 Spring Gardens, King Street
You might not want Dom Perignon by the glass, but if you did, Rosso is the only Manchester bar where it’s served. Rio Ferdinand’s masterpiece of extreme decadence is also the place to find some of the world’s rarest spirits and the city’s most masterful cocktails. It looks amazing too and it’s nowhere near as expensive as you’d expect.
Epernay, Great Northern Tower, Watson Street
Hidden away in Manchester’s Petersfield District, Epernay is a shrine to all things acquired-taste, like fine malts, great cigars, good brandy and rare champagne. Perfect place for a grown-up gentlemen’s club vibe in sleek, designed surroundings.
Tib Street Tavern, 74 Tib Street
Big bar, comfy seats, masses of TV screens for sports and beer by the pitcher, Tib Street Tavern is a real traditional boozer. Could be why it’s one of the most popular pubs in the city – that or the monster bacon, sausage and sauce rolls.
Mulligans, 12 South Gate
Home to the best Guinness in Manchester (yes, there are people who vote on such things) and great for Irish folk music, new local talent, live sport and a lively crowd any day or night of the week. One of the city’s traditional ‘football’ pubs.
Dukes 92, 18-25 Castle Street
It wouldn’t be Manchester without a canal in the mix somewhere and nowhere does huge waterside beer garden, post-industrial architecture, amazing beer and hordes of thirsty Mancunians quite like Dukes 92. Perhaps the city’s busiest pub, definitely one of the biggest (thanks to the outside spread), Dukes is lazy afternoon perfect.
The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater Street
Over 200 years old and still standing in the same spot, The Briton’s Protection is a city institution and much loved for it. Famous for its enormous whisky selection and equally vast range of real ales, this popular haunt regularly wins the ‘Best Pub in Manchester’ award.
Black Dog Ballroom, 37–43 Oldham Street, Northern Quarter
The brilliant Black Dog is open until 4am most nights and is a little bit of everything and all of it good. Great pool tables (book them all for a competitive party), excellent beer, expert cocktails and DJs bringing up the ballroom come club end.
Manchester’s best nightclubs:
Tiger Tiger, The Printworks
If you’re familiar with the nationwide bar chain Tiger Tiger, make sure you make a stop at their Manchester venue. Famous for its lively club nights and exceptional drinks offers – be sure to make the most of their cocktail hours.
Sankeys, Jersey Street
Another go-to venue for unforgettable dance nights, Sankeys is famous for its house DJs on Friday and Saturday nights. Ticket prices can be high, sometimes ranging from £20-40 a night but, with big name acts guaranteed you won’t be disappointed. Sankey club nights run all into the early hours so don’t be surprised if you don’t leave until 5 or 6am next day.
Revolución de Cuba, Peter Street
Enjoy the glitz and glamour of this dressy venue on a Friday or Saturday night. Reasonable drinks prices mean the bargain-hunting student crowds are priced out, ideal for those who want a classy evening out. Club-goers can enjoy tapas and Argentinian beer, in line with the venue’s theme, between time spent dancing.
Warehouse Project, Store Street
The Warehouse project is one of the most iconic music nights in Manchester and a must-see if you’re into your dance tunes. It takes over the Victoria Warehouse for the autumn and winter, with regular residents and big name DJs playing most weekends, with past performers including the likes of Annie Mac, Chase & Status and Nero. Tickets sell out in advance so check the calendar and make sure you book to avoid disappointment.
Food: eat like a local:
Start at Trof in the Northern Quarter, here you can enjoy a full English breakfast in the hip surroundings of this ‘dandyish den’. Next try a quick lunch at the unique soup bar Shlurp! on Brazennose Street, where recipes range from traditional country veg to rabbit and blackberry stew – most under a fiver.
By night, there are a selection of upmarket restaurants to pick from. The plush Australasia in Spinningfields provides a wonderful fusion of Asian, European and Australian cuisine, whilst the Northern Quarter’s Bakerie offers an unusual concept, a bar dedicated to bread and wine. Try the artisan loaves as you sip on the finest white or red. For the best steak in Manchester, don’t miss chic urban hangout Neighbourhood , on The Avenue North in plush Spinningfields.
The best view of the city:
Look out across Manchester’s skyline from the staggering wall-to-wall windows of Cloud 23 , high up in Beetham Tower, the city’s tallest building. This serene and modern venue offers you the chance to see the best panoramic views while sipping on exquisite cocktails or sampling a tempting afternoon tea. Book in advance or expect to queue at weekends.
Manchester is well connected by tram (the Metrolink), making it easy to explore each of the different quarters or head out to the stylish southern suburbs. There is also a free shuttle service (The Metroshuttle) which links the trains stations, tram stops, bus stops and car parks across the city centre. Make sure you check if the free shuttle stops near your point of interest before booking a taxi.
Did you know?
Manchester is home to the world's oldest railway station and the world’s first computer, which was built at the city’s university.
Most helpful customer reviews:
Been to Manchester before? Similar destinations…