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There’s a Brexit Escape Room in Manchester and it’s scarily realistic

Leave or Remain?

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Whichever side of the Brexit debate you’re on, the one thing I think we can all be united in is the fact that the whole process has been a complete unremitting disaster, which has not only divided the country, but also made us an international laughing stock. Merry Christmas!

With much of the debate just seeming to centre around people on both sides trying to shout or condescend their opinion into the brains of people with a differing view, a bit of a light-hearted escape from the whole thing sounded fun to me. An escape room, to be more precise. 

Alternate Escapes, one of the residents at the new Pollard Yard, located on Pollard Street next to Wellington Mill – a hub for creative independent businesses housed in repurposed shipping containers, run by a company called Meanwhile Creative – offers themed escape room challenges. The current theme is The Battle of Brexit and there are new themes in the pipeline for 2020.  

Ben Fowler, the man behind Alternate Escapes, explains: “The escape room is about giving people the chance to take a fairly exhausting, serious topic, and enjoy it in a far more light-hearted and satirical way”. 

Before you start you have to pick a side: Remain or Leave. We picked Remain, and you have a quick introduction in a separate cabin to go over the rules.

The set up being that our host is our campaign manager, and he has surreptitiously gained access to our rivals HQ for a short time and in the true spirit of real life Brexit, our objective is to try and gather sensitive, confidential information to besmirch our rivals by seeding their grubby secrets out to the press. 

It’s not really a case of escaping per se, but if you get all the secret documents, you succeed in destroying your rivals credibility, and ultimately win your chosen Brexit outcome. Or you fail, and they win. 

It was at this moment I made a decision. When I was younger, if there was a big football game approaching, I’d often play the game virtually on Fifa beforehand, deciding that whatever the outcome on Fifa would be the outcome in real life in some sort of inexplicable cosmic quirk, with myself at the centre of the universe. 

That’s what I decided would happen with Brexit, 100%, without question. Whatever happened in our Battle of Brexit escape room would manifest in real life. 

Naturally, being an escape room, they haven’t made it easy. In order to get our hands on confidential documents we have to work out access to various cupboards, drawers, cabinets, lockers and rooms by following a series of cryptic clues dotted around, with our campaign manager watching over from our HQ and able to provide clues on a screen occasionally, for which you’re notified by a little gong sound.


One such gong during our session was to dissuade one of our team Danny from trying to hack into a tablet, which we weren’t quite ready to use at that stage as we hadn’t discovered the clue to do so yet. 

While Danny didn’t quite manage to hack into the rival’s profile, he did somehow manage to log out of it completely and, impressively, hack in to the Alternate Escapes chap’s girlfriend’s personal profile, which we quickly were notified wasn’t part of our game, leaving us having to un-hack and re-hack back in when we were ready.  It was some serious espionage. 

I’ve done a couple of escape rooms before, with mixed success and experiences, and this one was well put together, good fun, and actually quite tough. It’s a simple-looking layout at first, but the complexity of it builds out as the game progresses. 

We had waves of being pretty prolific, then hitting a roadblock, with each new discovery greeted with a collective cheer. With actual seconds to spare, we managed to get the last clue and succeed in getting all documents, meaning that we won. 

Therefore, the cosmos has spoken, the outcome of Brexit will be Remain

Then again, if the universe was as aligned around me as I like to think, England would have won every major football tournament since about 1998 based purely on my Fifa endeavours, so I won’t hold my breath. 

To find out more info visit the website here.

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There’s a huge Courteeners themed party coming to Manchester

Love a bit of Courteeners? Well, a Northern Quarter boozer has you covered.

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@penandpencilnq / Instagram & @juan.agh / Instagram

Ahead of the Courteeners’ massive homecoming gig at Old Trafford next weekend, a Northern Quarter boozer is throwing a huge pre-show party to get all you concert-goers warmed up for the festivities.

The Pen & Pencil, located down Hilton Street, is throwing the do for all those who have managed to get their hands on tickets for the shows – and those who sadly haven’t, too.

And even more excitedly, XS Manchester DJ and overall legend Clint Boon will be in attendance, dishing out a load of the Courteeners’ top tunes plus a load of other staple Manc music.

@penandpencilnq / Instagram

The party is completely FREE to attend, and will be the perfect spot for getting into that concert mood we’ve all missed for the last year or so. The Pen & Pencil is also located just a short walk from the Piccadilly Metrolink stop, where you can jump on a tram and get to the gig in just ten minutes.

The gig is set to be one of Manchester’s first since the start of the pandemic, which saw all live music grind to a halt.

The Middleton-born rockers will be joined by The Smiths’ Johnny Marr and Stockport band Blossoms, as well as The Big Moon and Zuzu.

@juan.agh / Instagram

So, do you fancy it?

There’ll be no need to make a booking or reservation, all you’ll need to do is turn up and enjoy the music. The party starts at 4pm and runs through to 7pm.

For more information, follow the Pen & Pencil on Instagram.

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Ed Sheeran is coming to Manchester as part of massive UK tour next year

The ‘+ – = ÷ x Tour’ will be kicking off next year

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@zakarywalters / Instagram

Ed Sheeran will be performing two shows in Manchester as a part of his upcoming UK Mathematics Tour. 

The singer will be embarking upon the ‘+ – = ÷ x Tour’ in May next year, where he will perform at six major locations across the country, Manchester’s Etihad Stadium being one of them.

Fans will get to see Ed perform a whole array of tracks from his upcoming album‘=’ live for the first time, as well as experience a new production set-up with Ed’s staging in the round surrounded by the crowd in each stadium.

Kamil_Took / Flickr

The highly anticipated new album ‘=’ will be released next month on October 29th and will feature his new single ‘Shivers’ and ‘Bad Habits’.

Ed will be taking over the Etihad Stadium on Friday June 10th and Saturday June 11th 2022. Here’s the tour schedule in full:

  • Thursday 12th May – Belfast Boucher Road Playing Fields
  • Thursday 26th May – Cardiff Principality Stadium
  • Friday 27th May – Cardiff Principality Stadium
  • Friday 3rd June – Sunderland Stadium of Light
  • Saturday 4th June – Sunderland Stadium of Light
  • Friday 10th June – Manchester Etihad Stadium
  • Saturday 11th June – Manchester Etihad Stadium
  • Thursday 16th June – Hampden Park, Glasgow
  • Friday 17th June – Hampden Park, Glasgow
  • Wednesday 29th June – Wembley Stadium, London
  • Thursday 30th June – Wembley Stadium, London
  • Friday 1st July June – Wembley Stadium, London

Eva Rinaldi / Flickr

There is no pre-sale for this tour, and tickets go on sale next week on Saturday September 25th at 9am. 

As was the case with his previous tours, Ed and his team have a strict stance against anyone using unofficial secondary ticketing sites in order to try and stop fans being exploited when trying to buy tickets for his shows.

Tickets will be available to buy at www.edsheeran.com

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A RuPaul’s Drag Race UK premiere party with bottomless fizz is coming to Manchester next week

Sashay away…

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BBC & @alexandernaglestad / Unsplash

Engines at the ready, drag racers; there’s a massive bottomless RuPaul’s Drag Race UK premiere event coming to a cinema here in Manchester.

As fans of the hit drag show will know, the highly anticipated third season of the UK version is landing on BBC iPlayer next week and to celebrate appropriately, GRUB Manchester is throwing the mother of all launch parties.

On Thursday, September 23rd, you and your friends will be able to watch the first episode of the new season alongside an abundance of bottomless bevs and delicious street food.

BBC

Costing £20pp, tickets also include a selection of fun additions to enjoy throughout the evening, including a welcome cocktail, ninety minutes of bottomless fizz, draught beer or wine, and a private table to enjoy with friends, positioned for prime viewing on the night.

Indoor and covered seating in the event of rain (which, let’s face it, is looking very likely this month) is also available, as is a number of independent and local food vendors dishing up tasty food and extra drinks.

Though it is worth noting that this event isn’t an official RuPaul viewing event, it is just a bit of fun for Drag Race fans and their friends.

@grubmcr / Instagram

Tables can be reserved from 5:30pm onwards, and the bottomless drinks deal begins an hour later at 6:30pm. RuPaul’s Drag Race will be shown at 7pm.

Get your own tickets here.

BBC Three is yet to confirm which famous faces will be appearing on the judging panel. As for the regular judging panel,  Michelle Visage will be back, as will Graham Norton and Alan Carr, alternating each week as they have done for the past two series.

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