Manchester has plenty of nightclubs, bars and restaurants that are popular with locals but rarely seen by visitors. You can dine in renovated market buildings, buy designer goods in vibrant neighbourhoods and grab locally adored takeaways at night in this diverse city… if you know where to look.

    The Industrial Revolution, football and music have all contributed to Manchester’s global fame. And with hundreds of museums, dozens of shopping centres and a diverse culinary landscape, the city is well catered for tourists. But if you want to be more than a tourist and experience Manchester like a local, you need to know the hotspots that come to life after hours. Check out our guide to places Mancunians like to go at night.


    Three Minute Theatre

    Watch local poets, musicals and theatre performances in this intimate venue

    The Three Minute Theatre (3MT) is an experimental theatre in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Performances include comedy acts, musicals and film screenings, many lasting more than 3 minutes despite the theatre’s name. Founded in 2011, this hip venue champions originality and innovation. It also runs acting and creative classes. Some shows encourage the audience to get involved.

    This intimate venue has a capacity of 50 to 100, and tickets usually cost under £10, making it a suitable quirky evening activity. Nearby, you’ll find other entertainment venues like the Frog & Bucket Comedy Club, Treetop Adventure Golf and The Printworks.

    Location: Afflecks Arcade, 35-39 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JG, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)161 834 4517


    The Eagle Inn

    Listen to live acts in this hidden gem of a proper boozer

    Despite being just 5 minutes from Manchester Cathedral, The Eagle Inn has remained one of the city’s best-kept secret pubs for well over a century. This Grade II listed building has retained many of its original features that date back to the early 1900s, such as its central bar, traditional tiling and wood panelling. Performances ranging from spoken word to live music take place weekly.

    The Eagle Inn serves a wide selection of locally brewed, award-winning cask ales as well as international beers and wines. There’s also plenty of traditional British pub grub on the menu. You can play your favourite classics on a vintage jukebox in one of the snug rooms.

    Location: 19 Collier St, Salford M3 7DW, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 3 pm to 11 pm, Friday from 3 pm to 1 am, Saturday from 1 pm to 1 am, Sunday from 1 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)161 819 5002


    photo by Peter James (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Café Marhaba

    Feast on affordable Indian delights the locals love

    Manchester’s bohemian Northern Quarter has plenty of buzzy restaurants, but Café Marhaba is a favourite Indian takeaway with the locals. It’s hidden down a small alley called Back Piccadilly, where you’ll see plenty of street art from local artists. Established in 1992, Café Marhaba has retained its original, faded signage, which only adds to its charm.

    There are about 25 curries on the menu at Café Marhaba, and favourites include the chickpea curry, chicken tikka, and classic lamb kebab. Meal portions are more than generous and often cost less than £5. For a spicy kick, try the lamb karahi (chunks of meat with chilli in a creamy tomato-based sauce).

    Location: 36 Back Piccadilly, Manchester M1 1HP, UK

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 7.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)161 228 7377


    Manchester Arndale

    The largest shopping complex in the city centre

    Manchester Arndale is located in the heart of Manchester’s city centre, just a short walk from Manchester Piccadilly train station and accessible by tram. This giant shopping centre is home to over 200 stores ranging from small boutiques to high-end designer chains. On most days, it remains open until 8 pm, making it excellent for some evening shopping.

    Opposite Manchester Arndale, you’ll find fashion stores such as Zara, Harvey Nichols and Burberry on New Cathedral Street. It’s one of Manchester’s classier areas, but you can usually get cheap eats inside Manchester Arndale until 9 pm.

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    Location: New Cannon Street Mall, Manchester M4 3AQ, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm, Sunday from 11.30 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)161 833 9851


    photo by Matthew Hartley (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Northern Quarter

    Have a drink in Manchester’s creative centre

    Manchester’s Northern Quarter comes to life at night, when independent bars, fashion stores and record stores attract the city’s creative types. Ongoing redevelopment projects have made the Northern Quarter a quirky shopping and entertainment hub. Afflecks Palace is one of the area’s busiest shopping outlets and a prime location for independent designer goods.

    If you fancy spending the evening in the Northern Quarter, try a few continental beers at Beermoth. At The Bay Horse Tavern, you can play pool and sip a traditional pint. For a night of dancing to the latest hits in a hip setting, head to the Mint Lounge.

    Location: Northern Quarter, Manchester, UK


    photo by Olea (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Mackie Mayor Market

    Check out one of Manchester’s more unusual entertainment venues

    Mackie Mayor Market occupies a Grade II listed building that was constructed in 1858. While its grand exterior remains largely untouched, its interior is now filled with vendors selling a wide selection of food and drink. It’s one of the best places in the Northern Quarter to enjoy a sense of community with a cocktail and a bite.

    Inside the market, you'll find a main hall with 2 floors full of communal dining tables. A dozen or so independent vendors sell favourites such as pizza, sandwiches and steaks, but you can find international delights ranging from pork-belly bao to homemade tortillas. Grab a frozen margarita from Pico’s to kick off your night.

    Location: 1 Eagle St, Manchester M4 5BU, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 9 am to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 9 am to 11 pm, Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays)


    Curry Mile

    Feast on curry dishes like a true Mancunian

    Takeaway food is an integral element of local nightlife in Manchester. And Wilmslow Road, affectionately nicknamed ‘Curry Mile’, is one of the busiest areas for locals looking for a bite after a night out. With over 70 establishments, Curry Mile likely has the highest concentration of Middle Eastern and South Asian restaurants in the UK.

    The surrounding area of Rusholme is filled with architecture ranging from Victorian villas and tower blocks to university accommodation, making it a great place to catch a glimpse of local life. You’ll find dishes with influences from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India along the Curry Mile. Mughli Charcoal Pit is a favourite restaurant with the locals.

    Location: Rusholme, Manchester M14 5TQ, UK


    photo by Mikey (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Ancoats Peeps

    Glimpse into Manchester’s industrial past

    In the late 1700s, Ancoats became the first industrial suburb of Manchester, the city that kicked off the Industrial Revolution. Even though the area has lost many of its original mills and factories, you can get a glimpse into life in industrial 18th-century Manchester through The Peeps, which are brass peepholes installed into old building walls.

    Some buildings still contain industrial equipment, and the interiors have barely been touched. You’ll find these peepholes throughout the Ancoats area, and they’re easiest to spot in the evening when crowds subside. Interestingly, nobody knows why they were built. 

    Location: Ancoats, Manchester, UK


    British Film Institute Mediatheque

    Catch up on old, obscure and rare films in a futuristic viewing pod

    The British Film Institute Mediatheque is located inside Manchester Central Library. But rather than books, the main draw here is the selection of movies, which you can watch in a futuristic pod. You can catch up on classics and watch the latest hits. You can also find some rarities, such as obscure 70s sitcoms and early footage of life in Manchester.

    Currently, there are over 2,000 titles in the archives at the British Film Institute Mediatheque, and they’re all free to view. You can book a private pod in advance or turn up on the day. Just remember that it closes at 8 pm on weekdays.

    Location: St Peter's Square, Manchester M2 5PD, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 9 am to 8 pm, Friday–Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)161 234 1983


    Gorilla Bar

    Dance alongside hundreds of locals at this popular Manchester nightclub

    Gorilla is an industrial, chic bar and club built into the railway arches near Manchester Oxford Road train station. Even though it looks small from outside, it has enough space for up to 700 partygoers, making it a prime nightlife spot with locals who like classy food and a varied cocktail selection. The venue frequently hosts some of the leading local DJs and upcoming bands. Expect to hear a diverse range of music, from funk and hip-hop to modern indie.

    As a top-rated nightclub, Gorilla has an energetic atmosphere at night. Head there early evening for a bit of piece and try a dish from the grill menu. If you enjoy a classy mixer, you’ll be glad to know the club has a gin parlour.

    Location: 54-56 Whitworth St, Manchester M1 5WW, UK

    Open: Monday–Wednesday from 11 am to 11 pm, Thursday from 11 am to midnight, Friday from 11 am to 2 am, Saturday from 10 am to 2 am, Sunday from 10 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)161 826 2998

    Joshua Saunders | Contributing Writer

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