Christmas is nearly here and, luckily for us lot, Manchester is one of the best places to be (outside of Lapland, obviously) throughout the festive period.
There’s going to be a ton of fun and Christmassy things to do over the next couple of months so, just to help you plan and organise your Christmas celebrations accordingly, we’ve compiled a list of some of the must-do events happening across the city.
Here’s what’s on…
Winter Island at Escape to Freight Island
Earlier this month, it was announced that the popular open-air food hall Escape to Freight Island will be transformed into Winter Island, the UK’s largest fully-heated outdoor winter market.
Winter Island will boast a whole array of festivities including a Christmas Tree Forest, Christmas films nights, karaoke and a bonfire night gathering. There will also be an impressive line-up of new festive traders and stalls offering food and drink, including Great North Pie Co., a bratwurst grill, traditional hog roast, a mulled wine and hot cider hut, local chocolatiers and artisanal cheese stalls.
There will also be a huge firework display on the opening night and a whole line-up of live entertainment courtesy of the Untold Orchestra and a number of other local musicians and DJs.
The Winter Island will run from November 5th to December 31st – for more information and to book tickets, visit the Escape to Freight Island website here.
Ramona’s Winter Village
A magical ‘winter village’ experience will be descending upon Ramona and The Firehouse this Christmas, complete with tequila cabins, teepees and open log fires. What more could you ask for?
The whole of Swan Street, which is home to the two adjoining restaurants, will be transformed into the festive winter village, with the existing outside space to be developed to provide more shelter to those wanting to escape the cold Manchester weather.
The plans for the festive village include cosy Colorado-style log cabins, each with its own fire and chimney, and those all-important teepees with open-log fires. It will also welcome pop-up stalls from independent traders in its own scaled-down Christmas market.
Ramona’s winter village will open next month on November 4th and bookings are available now, so head over to the Ramona website to get your reservation secured.
Manchester Christmas Markets
Last year, the annual Manchester Christmas Markets were cancelled as a result of Covid-19 and, let me tell you, it wasn’t very Christmassy.
But this year, the markets are back with a bang – though they’re going to look a little different. It was announced last week that, while the markets will be making a return, the main hub will be moved from Albert Square to Piccadilly Gardens as a result of renovation works at the Town Hall.
The area will be transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’, with all the usual yuletide bars, market stalls and food huts we’ve all missed so much – though it is worth noting that extra measures will be in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The markets will be open to the public from Friday November 12th through to Wednesday December 22nd.
For the last two years, Manchester’s Heaton Park has been graced with Lightopia, a festival of immersive lights, lanterns and mesmerising installations and, low and behold, it’s coming back for its third event.
The never-before-seen illuminated trail will feature magical and multi-sensory interactive lights, lanterns and installations, illustrating a story of an imaginative and fantasy festive world. There will also be the ‘Fantasy Forest’, an area home to the most extraordinary and mystical animals to uncover.
Other attractions will include the ‘Fantasy Universe’ with a supernova display and bioluminescence plants, ‘Dragon’s Land’ featuring two huge 40m dragons and fabled fairies, ‘Fantasy Bees’, the trademark Manchester’s bee brought to life in a fantasy world, and the ‘Wonders of the World’.
Lightopia will be open to the public from November 18th 2021 until January 3rd 2022. To get your own tickets, visit the Lightopia Festival website here.
Christmas Karaoke Huts at Bar Hütte
Alpine-themed Bar Hütte recently announced the return of its famed karaoke huts, and they’re going to be bigger and better than ever before.
The brand Bar Hütte village will be located at Manchester’s Great Northern, where it will transform the current Great Northern Beach Club site into a ‘magical wonderland inspired by a ski resort in the Alps’.
Visitors will be able to enjoy the familiar festive huts, all of which will be decked out in their usual cosy furnishings, fairy lights, live music sessions, endless drinks and, of course, those all-important karaoke machines. Bar Hütte has also become well known for its iconic ‘Shot-Ski’s’, which features four shots of limoncello served up on an actual ski, so you and your pals can tip back together before butchering another rendition of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You.
Bar Hütte will be landing at Great Northern from Thursday November 4th 2021 through until Sunday January 9th 2022 – get yourself booked in here.
The iconic Winter Wonderland is coming home to Trafford’s indoor venue EventCity to celebrate the 2021 festivities with magical Christmas experiences such as reindeer, elves, fairies and even Father Christmas and his famous grotto.
There will also be a number of child-friendly theatrical performances taking place on the main stage with daily performances ideal for the whole family, including shows like the Ice Princess Show, Christmas Meltdown and the return of Winter Wonderland’s spectacular Christmas Circus.
And it wouldn’t be a Christmas bonanza without an abundance of festive food, would it? From German bratwursts to waffles and crepes, plus lots of Christmassy games stalls to keep the kids happily entertained, there’ll be something for everyone to feast upon. Elsewhere, a German bar will also be serving up fresh Bavarian beers and other festive drinks and adult refreshments.
Located at Event City next door to the Intu Trafford Centre, Winter Wonderland will be running from Saturday December 4th 2021 to Sunday January 2nd 2022. To book your own tickets and for more information about the event, click here.
Van Gogh Alive
While this many not be the most Christmassy of events lined up this winter, it’s certainly a good one and will make for a fantastic day out for you and your family.
Van Gogh Alive will allow guests to experience the artist in a multi-sensory art exhibition that gives a unique glimpse into the life and work of Van Gogh as you travel.
Over 3,000 images from his vast catalogue of work – including iconic works like Starry Night, Sunflowers and lesser-known paintings that were inspired by his love of Japanese woodprints – will explore and showcase different periods of the artists’ somewhat troubled life.
The exhibition, which is the most visited in the whole world, will be at Media City until January 23rd, 2022. For more information and to book your own tickets, visit the Van Gogh Alive website.
The Refuge Christmas Carol
The Refuge is bringing back it’s iconic Christmas Carol, a wonderful line-up of festivities spread across twelve days.
Kickstarting the festivities will be a performance from The Hallé Ancoats Community Choir, who will be joined by a special guest appearance from the first of the season’s Town Criers. There will also be a dog fancy dress competition, a Christmas wreath making workshop, and a line up of Christmas Fairs with traders like Manchester Union Lager and Deadstock General Store.
Guests will also be able to enjoy ‘Christmas in the Dining Room’, where a feast consisting of butter-roasted turkey breast with cranberry and apricot stuffing, goose fat roast potatoes, cranberry-glazed pigs in blankets and an abundance of festive veg will be dished up.
The Refuge’s Christmas Carol will be starting on November 12th and will right up until Christmas – visit their website for bookings and more information.
The Oast House Curious Tipi
It wouldn’t be Christmas in Manchester without the Oast House’s legendary tipi, would it?
Billed as a ‘winter escape in the heart of Spinningfields’, the Curious Tipi proves to be a massive hit each year, with thousands of people descending upon the site to enjoy a steaming mug of mulled wine next to an open fireplace – you know, those proper Christmas vibes.
Throughout the winter, there will be a number of Christmassy events taking place within the cosy tipi, including the iconic Oast House cinema nights, their annual wreath making classes and, of course, plenty of those famous hanging kebabs.
Bongo’s Bingo ‘A Tropical Christmas’
Fancy a game of Christmas bingo that isn’t with your nan at your local Mecca Bingo? Well, Bongo’s has you covered.
Everyone’s favourite game of bingo will be throwing a massive Christmas bonanza in the run-up to the big day, where there will be festive sing-alongs, conga lines, dance-offs, ‘cash cash money’ and tons of quirky prizes to be won.
Guests are also required to don their best (and ugliest) Hawaiian shirt to make the occasion extra tropical – because Christmas jumpers were so last year.
‘A Tropical Christmas’ will be taking place at the Albert Hall on December 19th, December 20th, December 21st, December 22nd, December 23rd, December 28th, and December 29th. Get your tickets here.
The best places to enjoy a gin & tonic in Manchester this Easter weekend
The perfect excuse to indulge in a couple of gins this weekend…
The Easter weekend is coming up and the forecast is for warm sunny weather, which calls for one thing and one thing only; a definitive round up of the best spots to enjoy a G&T here in Manchester.
Now, it’s no secret that here in Manchester we’re spoiled for choice on where to enjoy a tipple or two. And, if gin is your tipple of choice, you certainly won’t be left wandering the streets aimlessly in search of that perfect drink.
So, without any further ado, here’s our favourite Mancunian spots to enjoy a gin & tonic…
Three Little Words
Because of course Manchester Gin’s very own distillery and bar was going to make the ultimate G&T list. The venue, located down Watson Street, boasts its own distillery, meaning every last drop of Manchester Gin is made there and then on site.
The Spirit of Manchester Distillery also also gives guests the opportunity to make their very own gin, as well as learn the ins-and-outs of distilling.
On the actual drinking side of things, their bar boasts every variety Manchester Gin has to offer, including their new Oyster Gin, as well as a whole array of other gins from across the U.K and beyond.
Three Little Words, 2-13 Watson Street, Manchester, M3 4LP
Found at the bottom of Deansgate, Atlas Bar is definitely one of the better known gin bars in the city. Boasting a massive collection of 560 gins – both local and global – guests are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting their tipple.
Atlas Bar also features a heated outdoor terrace, perfect for both summer evenings and those chillier winter nights.
Atlas Bar, 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
The Old Bell Inn
A little bit further afield in the village of Delph, Oldham, stands The Old Bell Inn, which is an actual world record holder thanks to its vast collection of gin – all 1,100 of them.
You can’t compete with that, can you?
And, as well as it’s extensive gin offering, The Old Bell Inn is also well loved for its classic ‘countryside pub’ vibes and dazzling views of the Saddleworth Moor – the perfect place to sit back and relax with an ice cold G&T, if you ask me.
The Old Bell Inn, Huddersfield Road, Delph, Oldham OL3 5EG
Yes, I’m well aware that I’ve included a taproom on this list but hear me out; the iconic Salfordian brewers have recently dabbled in the world of distillery by launching their very own gin brand, Sis4ers Distillery.
Their distillery has produced a number of different botanical blends with tasty flavours such as strawberry, lime and thyme, espresso and passionfruit.
Seven Bro7hers, 39 Blossom Street, Ancoats, M4 5AF | Lockside Lane, Salford, M5 4YP
Having only opened recently, the Northern Quarter’s newest tiki bar Lono Cove features two floors of ‘contemporary’ tiki fun, including treasure chest cocktails and an abundance of greenery… Oh, and plenty of gin.
While tiki bars are usually associated with rum (there’s plenty of that, too), Lono Cove boasts an impressive selection of gins that can be enjoyed with tonic or in their many cocktails.
Lono Cove, 14 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1DH
The Black Friar
G&Ts taste better in a lush green beer garden, so of course The Black Friar had to make the list, with its stunning outdoor space.
The iconic Salford boozer recently reopened after eighteen years of no action and a massive transformation, and it is now the place to enjoy some gourmet pub grub and a couple of gins, either with tonic or in the form of a tasty cocktail.
The Blackfriar, 41-43 Blackfriars Rd, Salford M3 7DB
CITY GUIDE: The best rooftop bars Manchester has to offer
Who’d have thought rainy Manchester would have so many options?
The Easter bank holiday weekend is here and it’s set to be a sunny one, so we might as well make the most of it with a couple of trips to Manchester’s rooftop bars.
Rooftop bars?! I hear you ask.
Yes, it turns out that Manchester actually boasts an admirable selection of venues that offer a rooftop experience while you enjoy your drink.
Here’s some of our favourites…
Let’s start with an obvious one, shall we?
This venue is arguably one of Manchester’s most Instagrammable spots with stunning views of the city from, you guessed it, the twentieth floor. I wonder where they got their name from?
Anyway, 20 Stories offers impressive food and cocktail menus, a whole array of greenery and trees, and an outdoor fire pit.
20 Stories, No 1 Spinningfields, 1 Hardman Square, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3EB
0161 204 3333
Believe it or not, one of Manchester’s most popular music venues has an actual rooftop bar.
If you make it past the suitably dark and dingy music basement, all the pizza and beer on the first floor and the pink room on the second (yes, this venue has an actual room dedicated to the colour), you’ll find yourself out on the third floor in their makeshift rooftop bar.
Though it doesn’t boast the views from twenty stories high, it makes up for it with beautiful decor, holiday vibes and, most importantly, £3 pints.
YES, 38 Charles St, Manchester M1 7DB
This up-market Spinningfields spot offers a unique twist on a rooftop bar with their ‘roof garden.’
Guests can enjoy food and cocktails amongst an abundance of florals, foliage and colourful fabrics, all creating an enchanting oasis in the heart of Manchester’s city centre.
And thanks to its retractable roof, The Ivy Roof Garden is open seven days a week, come rain or shine.
The Ivy Spinningfields, The Pavilion, Byrom St, Manchester M3 3HG
It says it in the name, doesn’t it?
Nestled down the Northern Quarter’s Thomas Street, Terrace NQ offers a little solace to those desperate for a bev in the rare Mancunian sunshine.
Its secluded rooftop terrace is adorned with fairy lights, unique furniture and a fantastic atmosphere, so makes for the ideal spot to enjoy some sunshine.
Terrace NQ, 43 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
0161 819 2345
The Con Club
All the way over in Altrincham, The Con Club offers a fantastic sun spot complete with a tipi for those impromptu spells of rain – we do live in Manchester, folks.
The Con Club’s rooftop remains relatively unknown, and the restaurant is only accepting walk-ins, so your chance of getting a seat are high!
The Con Club, 48 Greenwood St, Altrincham WA14 1RZ
0161 696 6870
Okay, this Deansgate staple might not technically have a rooftop bar… but it has an outdoor bar around the back that’s suspended in the arches below the roof, so that definitely counts.
It’s easily one of the best terraces in the entire city centre, and with a choice of more than 500 gins, it’s certainly one of the more desirable locations in town when the sun comes out.
Atlas Bar, 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
0161 834 2124
Okay, we’re pushing it a bit with this one, considering that the Oxford Road foodhall is literally plonked directly under Mancunian Way.
But we have to give it to the staff over at Hatch – they’ve been brilliantly creative with their use of space and have somehow managed to make a couple of rooftop bars that get a lovely dose of sun for most of the day.
Grab a few beers, order some food and enjoy.
Hatch, 103 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7ED
Another unexpected one, this staple part of Manchester’s music scene actually offers a small and secluded roof terrace for guests to sit and enjoy the sun with a can of Red Stripe.
Expect naughties leather sofas, film posters and an epic dance floor if you fancy a few drinks in this haunt over the weekend.
Big Hands, 296 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9NS
0161 272 7309
The best beer gardens in Manchester to enjoy in summer 2022
We’re spoiled for choice here in Manchester…
It’s that time of the year; the temperature has surpassed 10C, we haven’t seen rain for at least two days and the evenings are definitely getting lighter.
And that means one thing and one thing only – the beer gardens are officially back open.
Yep, us Brits only need one glimmer of sunlight for us to immediately flock to our closest pub to soak up the (admittedly a bit chilly) rays with a nice refreshing pint.
And, with temperatures expected to reach highs of 20C this week, these beer gardens are definitely going to be the places to be after work.
But where’s the best place to enjoy a pint in the sun in Manchester?
Well, to save you trawling around town while you could be supping your drink and enjoying a bag of crisps in the sun, we’ve put together our own list of some of the best beer gardens Manchester has to offer.
Without further ado…
You know that massive beer garden with the orange tables and benches in Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter?
That belongs to Flok, and it is undisputedly the place to be whenever the sun comes out. Anyone who frequents the area will confirm that Flok’s beer garden is immediately heaving at any sign of sunshine and, with its impressive selection of lagers and craft beers, it makes for the perfect spot to soak up those rays.
Flok, 5 Stevenson Square, Manchester, M1 1DN
Right in the heart of Castlefield sits Dukes 92, which is guaranteed to be absolutely rammed whenever the weather surpasses 10C.
The atmosphere is nothing short of vibrant in the summer, something that can be mainly credited to its expansive drinks menu containing beers, wines, and tasty cocktails. Dukes also offers a vast food menu including cheese boards, pizzas and even roast dinners on a Sunday. Perfect in the sun with a glass of vino.
Dukes 92, 18-25 Castle Street, Manchester, M3 4LZ
O’Shea’s Irish Bar
There’s nothing quite as good as a pint of Guinness Extra Cold in the sun, and Manchester’s very own O’Shea’s is the place to enjoy it.
O’Shea’s has held a prominent legacy in the city since it opened back in 1994, and has built a reputation for pouring some of the best Guinness outside of Ireland, so the recent reopening of its legendary beer garden is certainly something to celebrate.
O’Shea’s Irish Bar, 80 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6NF
The Black Friar
This historic boozer reopened after eighteen long years out of action last year thanks to a massive investment by property giants Salboy, who transformed the building back into the iconic pub it once was.
And, as well as a brand new fine dining restaurant, the pub now boasts its very own beer garden around the back, complete with an abundance of foliage, greenery and sunlight. A must visit during the warmer months.
The Black Friar, 41-43 Blackfriar’s Road, Salford, M3 7DB.
Escape to Freight Island
Manchester’s biggest open air food hall is a real cracker all year round, but definitely makes better use of its grounds when the sun is shining.
Promising ‘Balearic vibes, Beers and great food’, Escape to Freight boasts both a massive beer garden and their iconic Plant Room, a real sun trap full of plants and greenery. The venue plays home to nine independent food vendors and a massive bar, making it the ideal spot to enjoy the warmer weather with your mates.
Escape to Freight Island, 11 Baring Street, Manchester, M1 2PZ.
Sinclair’s Oyster Bar
When it isn’t overrun with lairy European football fans, Sinclair’s Oyster Bar is one of the best places to catch some much-needed sun here in Manchester.
Standing directly next to the historic Old Wellington pub near the Corn Exchange, the beer garden at Sinclair’s is famously huge and always absolutely rammed, which is probably down to the pub’s wonderfully cheap alcohol selection, something that’s hard to come by in Manchester these days.
Sinclairs Oyster Bar, 2 Cathedral Gates, Manchester, M3 1SW.
0161 834 0430
The Oast House
Undoubtedly one of the most famous beer gardens in the whole of Manchester belongs to The Oast House, situated in the centre of Spinningfields.
The Oast House has become well loved for its craft beer selection, extensive wine list and those city-famous hanging kebabs, all of which can be enjoyed together in the courtyard (which houses very festive tipis in the winter).
Though it is recommended to book in advance to avoid disappointment, and to order your drinks in bulk as the wait times can be lengthy.
The Oast House, Crown Square, The Avenue Courtyard, Manchester M3 3AY
The Briton’s Protection
While the beer garden over at The Briton’s Protection isn’t the biggest in Manchester, it is definitely one of the more hidden gems in the city.
The Briton’s Protection is one of Manchester’s oldest and most historic pubs, and specialises in a vast selection of whisky, with over 300 bottles to choose from. These can all be enjoyed round the back of the building in the courtyard, which is always bustling with a fantastic atmosphere.
The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, M1 5LE.
0161 236 5895
Ramona & The Firehouse
(Kind of) new kids on the block Ramona & The Firehouse have made quite the name for themselves since their 2020 opening, mainly thanks to their margarita list and gigantic slabs of pizza.
But both restaurants – which sit back-to-back – boast fantastic outdoor terraces, both of which are perfect in the winter and the summer. Firehouse, in particular, is ideal if you fancy some Ibiza vibes in the heart of the city.
Ramona & The Firehouse, 40 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JG.
The Old Pint Pot
A student’s haven, the Old Pint Pot pub down Adelphi Street in Salford is known best for its cheap booze, pub grub and live music.
But in the summer, the Old Pint Pot’s massive beer garden overlooking the River Irwell comes to life, with students and 9-5ers alike coming together to enjoy the summer. It’s guaranteed good vibes in this place, so make sure to pay it a visit (especially when the sun’s shining).
The Old Pint Pot, Adelphi Street, Salford, M3 6EN.
Another Castlefield gem to add to the list, The Wharf provides good times all year round with its seasonal roast dinners and its impressive gin selection.
And in the summer, its beer garden fills up nicely and provides stunning views of the canal, Beetham tower and the surrounding new builds sprouting up around the area. Castlefield is undeniably one of the best places to hunker down for the day when the sun’s shining, so make sure to pay a visit to The Wharf when you’re next in the area.
The Wharf, 6 Slate Wharf, Manchester, M15 4ST.
Round the front, this little pub doesn’t look like it boasts much of an outdoor space (unless you enjoy the sound of angry traffic at the bottom of Deansgate).
But round the back, Rain Bar boasts a massive – and wonderfully secluded – beer garden which proves to be a lovely little sun trap on warmer days. Perfect!
Rain Bar, 80 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, M1 5JG.