Music Venues in Manchester

Johnny James, Managing Editor

Hear people talking about the Manchester music scene, and what always comes up? The Hacienda, Tony Wilson and a litany of great bands from The Smiths to Joy Division. And yes, all of these have their place in the city’s proud musical history, but endlessly wheeling out the greats of yesteryear is getting old.

What we should be talking about is what Manchester’s music scene is today, because for all the corporate co-option of Wilson’s “We do things differently here”, for all the monetisation of brand Manchester, today’s scene is decidedly forward-looking, and thriving for it.

We have some of the best venues in the country, many innovative promoters and, it almost goes without saying, incredible artists (who, by the way, have next to nowhere left to practice in the city centre, due, at least in part, to the aforementioned corporate interests forcing out hundreds of musicians from the likes of Brunswick Mill in the name of More. Luxury. Flats).

Okay, rant over. Let’s talk about the here and now of the Manchester music scene, because the here and now is great. Below are our favourite spots in Manchester (and a little beyond) for watching the best live music in a city absolutely brimming with it.

Our top picks

YES

YES, 38 Charles Street, Manchester, M1 7DB - Visit now

The apple in Now Wave’s eye, this four-floored venue is located in a former auctioneers house on Charles Street, where it hosts some of the city’s best small gigs. Bonuses? Its food traders are top drawer, the happy hour cocktails are banging, and the DJs know exactly what to spin and when.

YES

New Century

New Century, Mayes Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M60 4ES - Visit now

Originally built in 1963, this huge dance-hall, complete with a sprung-floor, was for that decade, and during the acid house era, an iconic part of Manchester’s music scene. Following a multi-million-pound transformation project, it’s picking up right where it left off, and some.

Gorilla

Gorilla, 54-56 Whitworth Street West, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5WW - Visit now

Under the railway tracks on Whitworth Street West, this bar, kitchen and music venue boasts both a gin parlour upstairs, and a super sound system in the 700 capacity performance space, which has a stage backed by old valve and amp cases from the old BBC basement on Oxford Road.

Gorilla, Whitworth street Manchester

The White Hotel, Salford

The White Hotel, Salford, Unit 3
Dickinson Street, Manchester, M3 7LW - Visit now

Ah The White Hotel, the things you must have seen… This self-proclaimed sin slide is located in an unhipstered industrial zone in the shadows of Strangeways prison. There, this former mechanics workshop throws the wildest parties around, while also hosting some excellent leftfield gigs.

Creative Tourist

Night & Day Cafe

Night & Day Cafe, 26 Oldham Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1JN - Visit now

Forever on the precipice of closure due to mystifying noise complaints from locals who have knowingly moved into a flat metres away from a music venue, Night & Day Cafe must be protected at all costs. This characterful and timelessly cool Oldham Street venue is a vital one for emerging bands and music lovers alike.

Image of Night and Day Cafe in Manchester
Ben Williams

The Blues Kitchen Manchester

The Blues Kitchen Manchester, 13 Quay St, Manchester, M3 3HN - Visit now

A young venue with an old timey feel, Blues Kitchen is an undeniably gorgeous gaff, all ceramic tiles, revealed brickwork and stained glass windows. The sound system is brilliant, it flexes it well, drawing in rising stars from across the worlds of soul, jazz, hip hop, reggae and more. It also does an enviably good cocktail and top BBQ fare.

Blues Kitchen Manchester
The Blues Kitchen Manchester

The Deaf Institute

The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 7HE - Visit now

Split across three flours, the Grade-II listed, neo-Gothic Deaf Institute features a dome-shaped music hall, complete with tiered seating and a giant mirror ball. There, it hosts scores of critically acclaimed acts, and while it’s developed a few rivals over the last few years, it still does what it does very well.

Pimped Fries

Aviva Studios

Aviva Studios, Water Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 3JQ - Visit now

Aviva Studios, home of Factory International, is a landmark new cultural space in the heart of Manchester, hosting some of the city’s most unique gigs.

Factory International
Factory International. Image courtesy of OMA.

Band on the Wall

Band on the Wall, 25 Swan Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 5JZ - Visit now

Manchester’s cherished Band on the Wall, with its 200 year history, underwent a major renovation and expansion recently. It now has a slicker bar (which doubles us a second gig space), extended capacity in the main room (without losing any of its soul), and a whole floor dedicated to the venue’s innovative World of Music learning programme.

Manchester music venue, Band on the Wall

Albert Hall

Albert Hall, 27 Peter Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 5QR - Visit now

Albert Hall is an objectively stunning venue, the kind that could never be built again. Originally a Wesleyan Chapel, its huge stained glass windows, ceiling arches and ornate vestibules create a very atmospheric backdrop to live gigs. Downstairs you’ll find cook haus, bakery, bier palace and wunderbar, Albert’s Schloss.

Albert Hall on Peter street Manchester
Image courtesy the Albert Hall.

The Stoller Hall

The Stoller Hall, Hunts Bank, Manchester, M3 1DA - Visit now

The RIBA award-winning Stoller Hall is an acoustically-excellent space directly opposite Manchester Victoria Station. Since opening back in 2017, its year round programme of live concerts have enhanced the city’s already enviable live classical music provision.

Image courtesy of the Stoller Hall

Soup

Soup, 31-33 Spear Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, Manchester, M1 1DF - Visit now

Formerly Soup Kitchen. Now just Soup. Nestled in the corner of Stevenson Square, this place finds the right balance in everything. It’s cool but unpretentious, the food and drink menu is great but also pretty cheap, and the industrial-style basement earnestly nurtures Mancunian talent while also attracting international names.

Image of Soup Kitchen in Manchester's Northern Quarter
Ben Williams

The Ritz

The Ritz, Whitworth Street West, Manchester, Great Manchester, M1 5NQ - Visit now

Okay, so the sound leaves a little to be desired these days, as does its extortionate drinks prices, but this O2-owned venue does still have a lot more soul than many of its counterparts. Opened as a dance hall in the roaring 20s, it still retains its original sprung dancefloor, which makes for a truly exquisite excellent mosh.

The Ritz Manchester live music venue

The Bridgewater Hall

The Bridgewater Hall, Lower Mosley Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 3WS - Visit now

Home to the Hallé and the BBC Philharmonic orchestras, The Bridgewater Hall attracts some of the biggest names in classical music. The hall was designed around its acoustic needs, floating on 280 earthquake-proof isolation springs that mute all external noise, perfect for shielding around 250 performances a year from the trams outside.

The seats and stage in The Bridgewater Hall

Matt and Phred’s

Matt and Phred’s, 64 Tib Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LW - Visit now

Jazz bar Matt and Phred’s must have been concerned when The Blues Kitchen arrived on the scene a few years ago, but really, these places are very different. Matt and Phred’s, the OG, is much cosier, more underground, and with way more actual jazz on. It also wins happy hour: you literally get a free pizza when you buy two pints. Good God…

matt and phreds sign manchester music

The Peer Hat

The Peer Hat, 14-16 Faraday Street, Manchester, M1 1BE - Visit now

Hailed as something of a cry back ‘to the way the Northern Quarter used to be’, The Peer Hat is Old English styled and yet determinedly celebrates current grassroots musicians in its basement gig room and club space.

the peer hat manchester
The Peer Hat

Canvas Manchester

Canvas Manchester, Circle Square, Oxford Rd, Manchester , M1 7FS - Visit now

Billed as Manchester’s next-generation music venue, members’ club, late-night bar and restaurant, Canvas shoulders a lot, but it’s more than managing. While it might not be the most atmospheric space to watch live music, it does attract some great little touring artists, whilst hosting regular R&B club nights.

Canvas Manchester

O2 Apollo

O2 Apollo, Stockport Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M12 6AP - Visit now

Okay so it’s another O2 venue, but here us out. Originally built as a cinema in 1938, The Apollo is a majestic, Grade II listed Art Deco building which, for a 3500-capacity venue, offers great views of the stage wherever you stand, thanks to sloping steeped floor.

O2 Apollo (Some rights reserved by The Message)

Rebellion

Rebellion, 2B Whitworth Street West, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5WZ

One for the rockers. Offering a much-needed alternative to the slick bars under the arches on Deansgate Locks, Rebellion is the place to go if you like your music heavy and your anthems alternative. A welcome thorn in the side of the Locks’ standard rosy fare.

Co-op Live

Co-op Live, Alan Turing Way, Manchester, M11 1HR - Visit now

The UK’s only music-first arena has thrown open its doors in East Manchester, and despite initial teething issues, the world class experience it offers legitimises its existence in a city not short of arenas.

The Smashing Pumpkins by Nick Flynn, supplied by Co-op Live.

Where to go in Manchester

Manchester Factory international Festival - People enjoying Festival Square in the city centre
Manchester
Café or Coffee Shop
Factory Square

Factory Square is a huge beer garden, on the banks of the River Irwell, with top-quality drinks and street food selections.

The Feel Good Club exterior
Manchester
Event venue
Feel Good Club

Our flagship Feel Good Club in Manchester, open 7 days a week, providing a beautiful friendly environment for coffee, brunch, lunch, cocktails and beers with an amazing selection of non alcoholic beverages too.

Manchester
Music venue
Progress Centre

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Manchester
Event venue
DIECAST

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Manchester
Music venue
New Century

Following a £10m transformation project, Manchester’s iconic New Century Hall has returned as a live music, performance and events space.

The Vale Reopening Programme
Mossley
Cinema
The Vale

Boasting a specially curated live programme of music, dance, cinema, theatre and visual arts, the newly renovated centre will host a special launch weekend from 10 – 12 September 2021.

Manchester
Music venue
The Star & Garter

The Star and Garter is a legendary Manchester pub and music venue located in a grade II listed building on Fairfield Street.

The Altrincham Garrick Playhouse
Altrincham
Theatre
The Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

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Manchester
Restaurant
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