Contrary to popular belief, Manchester does attract sunshine once in a while – for over 1,000 hours a year, according to one source. And what better way to enjoy them than in one of Manchester’s many beer gardens, lapping up the sun’s rays while enjoying a fine ale in the company of friends? While many of Manchester’s more spacious and leafy beer gardens are out in the suburbs, there are still a few hidden gems to choose from in the city centre.
Here are our top 5 picks
A traditional boozer surrounded by imposing flats and university buildings, The Sally (as the regulars call it) hosts an energetic, arty crowd – and its recently expanded outside area is another good reason to visit. Boasting a comprehensive (if expensive) range of drinks, an outdoor table tennis table for the more energetic of us, plus regular weekend barbecues, The Salutation has everything you need – including bedrooms upstairs, if the sun gets the better of you.
This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city. Rain Bar’s food menu of traditional pub fodder can be enjoyed outside, while barbecues are also available for special functions.
Situated on the edge of the Northern Quarter, away from the raucous weekend scrum, Fringe is a Belgian-style bar where luminous orange draught cider flows as regularly as strong Trappist treats. Out back, the cobbled beer garden offers a secluded break from the surrounding dual carriageways. Look out for the hand-shaped tree overhead, and barrel of fish. While bench space is limited, there’s always the option to grab a keg and form your own garden furniture.
This cultural hub, just off Chapel Street in Salford, offers great real ale and cheap, hearty pub food. Its main bar is adorned with tour memorabilia from landlord Paul Heaton (of The Beautiful South), while the snug welcomes a regular knitting club, and the upstairs function room hosts theatre, comedy and music. To top it off is the beer garden, providing ramshackle furniture and a lively atmosphere that attracts Salfordians by the dozen.
‘Manchester’s original riverside pub’ was taken over in 2009 by head chef Robert Owen Brown, who has since turned it in to a haven for meat-lovers (bone marrow and cow heel, anyone?). In line with its locally-sourced menu, the drinks selection features local breweries, with dining or simply drinking available on the terrace, which overlooks the River Irwell. It’s as close as Manchester’s ever likely to get to Venice.