5 August 2019
City in the Spotlight: Manchester
Like many of my peers, I had chosen the University of Manchester due to the vast and extensive history surrounding the city in both music and culture. However, upon arrival it’s very easy to feel as if the Manchester ship has sailed and you’re not on it.
Having met quite a few locals during my time here all I seem to hear is how great it used to be, with legendary parties such as the Hacienda and revolutionary counter cultural movements such as punk rock all having deep seeded roots in this busy northern city, but you could be easily lead to believe that all of the excitement is over. However I’m here to tell you it’s not! Stick around for a guide to the wealth of opportunity the city of Manchester still offers, from huge nights out to quirky days in town and places and activities you can enjoy with friends, family and even your pets.
I think the first place we should start is a place close to my heart and therefore a place I feel most confident in providing the best insight, Music. Like many large university towns and cities across the UK, Manchester provides a wide selection events and nights out to suit even the most obscure music tastes. If a drunken sing song to all the indie classics is your sort of thing then 42s on a Tuesday is the place for you, cheap drinks, friendly inclusive vibes and a great selection of popular music; prepare to lose your voice along with your dignity. If the electronic music scene is more your thing, look no further than the warehouse project.
Huge speakers, world renowned DJ’s and a lights show you won’t forget in a hurry. The Warehouse Project is moving to a new home (Mayfield depot) for the 2019 season so now more than ever could be a chance for you to become a part of the latest chapter in the Manchester electronic music scene. Honourable mentions must go to Cubo, Indigo, stage & radio, band on the wall, soup kitchen, white hotel and hidden, all of which offer a varied selection of events depending on which day you go, be sure to check out their events before you visit and I guarantee you’ll find something you like.
As much as big nights out on the town have their place, a quiet pint or glass of wine at the local pub is equally valid in my opinion and Manchester has you covered. For the most authentic student experience be sure to visit squirrels bar (located on the Owens park campus) and The Friendship Inn (located on Wilmslow road, opposite the McDonalds). If you’d prefer somewhere a bit quieter jump on the 142 bus from outside Friendship and check out some of the pubs 5 minutes down the road in Didsbury. The Queen Victoria is my personal favourite.
Manchester is a very compact city in comparison to many other places and the greater Manchester area mainly consists of houses. Nights out are great and all but finding things to do during the day is a different kettle of fish so here is a list of the most obscure and interesting things I’ve come across so far. Top tree adventure golf is perhaps the most hidden of the hidden gems in the city centre. It’s situated above Printworks, right in the city centre and requires you to enter through a small door round the corner and up a lift but I promise it’s worth it. Very nicely built and decorated and loads of fun. For those seeking a more hands on activity check out Total Ninja on Tenax road. Does exactly what it says on the tin with challenging obstacle courses and activities and the fact they also offer shower facilities illustrates the amount of effort you’ll have to put in to get the most out of Total Ninja. Flip Out trampoline park, situated across the road from the Manchester City training ground is another fun and challenging activity to get involved in. If physical activity isn’t really your thing, try the Whitworth gallery or Wythenshawe petting zoo, both ideal places to expand your mind and get in touch with nature.
All these activities are bound to make you very thirsty and hungry and if you really can’t stomach another Maccies, Manchester has many bars and restaurants that provide much better food and drink alternatives. Pieminister and Almost Famous burgers are perhaps the nicest chain restaurants located in the northern quarter and are most definitely worth a try. If you want a slightly more original eating experience then Mackie Mayor and Rudy’s Pizza are 100% worth your time and are also both located in the northern quarter. For Manchester’s most interesting and bewildering eating experience, Albert Schloss is somewhere you must try. The German inspired restaurant and bar has everything from sweet treats to gut busting feasts as well as a mindboggling selection of beers, wines and spirits. As well as this you’ll never be short of entertainment whilst inside as they also put on live music and arts performances almost every day.
For the most premium dining experience, head over to spinningfields (the area located just behind Albert Schloss). Fazenda is perhaps my favourite of the restaurants in spinningfields and The Alchemist is the place to go for a unique cocktail experience but as you know, fine dining comes at a price. It may be worth waiting till the parents are in town to check out spinningfields. On the subject of parents, if you want to show them you are having a premium, wholesome and cultured time in ‘Manc’ take them for lunch at Christies Bistro (located in the main UoM building). This stunning library turned cafe is a genuinely beautiful place to eat (which is why graduation lunches are usually held there). Be sure to take loads of pictures so when your parents discuss your studies with their friends back home, they can show them those pictures and not the ones of you standing on a table in squirrels spilling a pint over yourself.
An honourable mention must go to the Dog Bowl (located just off oxford road, opposite the 02 Ritz). Dog Bowl offers a combination of drinks, food and bowling and unlike your average bowling alley, it’s open till around 1am and is very much catered to adult audience. Also if your dog is one of those (like mine) that makes a fuss when you go out without them, they’ll be happy to hear that Dog Bowl welcomes all fury friends with open arms!
The Trafford centre boasts being one of the biggest shopping centres
Lastly, it’s important to mention the wealth of shopping opportunities Manchester has to offer. The Trafford centre boasts being one of the biggest shopping centres in the country and will have pretty much everything you could ever possibly want or need. A bit closer to the centre of town you’ll find the Arndale centre, a modern and diverse shopping centre that offers everything from designer clothing brands to fruit and veg with its very own built in Aldi. For the more alternative and savvy shoppers, the northern quarter may have what you’re looking for. The Kilo sale store located right at the start of the northern quarter, opposite the water feature has some wonderful bargains and as you pay by weight not item, you can find some true gems. The northern quarter also offers a number of charity shops, record shops and even a comic book store. Once you’re all shopped out be sure to take a break and have a drink in one of the many bars dotted around the area. Night and day cafe is definitely a good bar to check out. That being said, if you feel it’s a touch too early for alcohol, treat yourself to a unique milkshake creation courtesy of Black Milk (located at the top of the northern quarter, next to the comedy club). They also serve cereal all day which is why I recommend you go there.
So as you can (hopefully) see, Manchester is still alive and kicking! For those willing to look, there are so many activities and opportunities in this wonderful city. I have only spoken about my personal favourites and I’m sure there are even more things I’ve not yet discovered! For those that have stuck around this long you deserve a reward. Just down the road from the UoM students union (which offers double pints for £3 on a Tuesday), there is a bar called big hands; it’s very narrow and not the cheapest but it’s wonderfully decorated and has a nice atmosphere and If you head upstairs you’ll find one of the nicest roof top gardens I’ve come across in Manchester. You’re welcome.