Northern Quarter, Manchester

Creative Tourist

Manchester’s most characterful, independent district is a jumbled network of streets to one side of Piccadilly Gardens – once home to busy textiles warehouses and even the occasional umbrella factory. Now, the red brick buildings with their New York-style fire escapes are regularly used in film sets, and the streets are bursting with independent cafés, shops, bars, and cultural hotspots.

The Northern Quarter has become a destination in its own right, with the laid-back, bohemian vibe during the day transforming at night into teeming pavements of people in search of good food, craft beer, pop-up events and live music.

Ben Williams, Creative Tourist
Image by Ben Williams, Creative Tourist

 

When walking around, keep your eyes peeled for public art. The regularly updated artwork at Stevenson Square (currently featuring a mural of David Bowie) and the Tib Street substation are particular must sees, both curated by Out House MCR and funded by Fred Aldous. But look up and you’ll find other little surprises, from the sculptures of exotic birds high on a wall on John Street (a nod, apparently, to the area being known for its pet shops in Victorian times) to a colourful ceramic pineapple on top of the Binks Buildings.

Our top picks

Band on the Wall

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

On the very tip of the Northern Quarter is one of Manchester’s most cherished venues, which, with its 200 year history, underwent a major renovation and expansion recently. Band on the Wall 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

Mackie Mayor

Mackie Mayor, 1 Eagle Street, Manchester, M4 5BU

The Grade II listed Mackie Mayor used to be one of Manchester’s most beautiful but neglected buildings. But a few years back this grand space reopened after a huge refurbishment and is now one of the key fixtures in the ever-growing Northern Quarter food and drink scene.

Mackie Mayor

Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Manchester Craft & Design Centre, 17 Oak St, Northern Quarter, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 5JD - Visit now

One of our favourite places in Manchester, Manchester Craft & Design Centre is hands down the most reliable one-stop-shop for unique, but not over-priced, gifts in the city. Welcome to the mecca of all things beautiful, handmade and one-of-a-kind.

Manchester Craft and Design Centre by Joel C Fildes.
Manchester Craft and Design Centre by Joel C Fildes.

Fred Aldous

Fred Aldous, 37 Lever Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1LW - Visit now

The worker bee has long been synonymous with Manchester’s industrious ethos, and for good reason: the textiles industry was born in this former “Cottonopolis.” Established in 1886, arts and crafts store Fred Aldous is very much a slice of that history, proving that our worker bee nature and penchant for crafting is still thriving.

© Fred Aldous

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

Castle Hotel

Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LE - Visit now

Is there a more well-liked Manchester boozer than this? The 200 year-old Castle has, like so many of the city’s drinking dens, a musical past. It was here, for example, that John Peel interviewed Ian Curtis for the Northern Lights ‘zine, and where for over 30 years local bands have played live gigs to 80-cap crowds.

Castle Hotel pub in Manchester

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

Queer Lit

Queer Lit, 27 Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, M45AJ - Visit now

Finding shops that have dedicated areas for Queer literature or knowing the places to look for excellent new Queer Authors can be hard. With a lack of shops stocking specifically Queer writing and websites not bothering to create areas for it, Queer Lit have stepped up to fill that gap.

Queer Lit
Queer Lit

The Smithfield Social

The Smithfield Social, 53-55 Thomas St, Manchester , M4 1NA - Visit now

Right at the heart of the Northern Quarter lies Smithfield social, not far from the historic Smithfield market. The Smithfield Social is a friendly, relaxing place to enjoy a wealth of well-executed dishes on a thoughtful, exciting menu. Catering to carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike, it’s a must-try brunch stop -especially if you plan on bringing a furry friend.

The Smithfield Social
Anne-Marie Pattenden

UNITOM

UNITOM, 1A Stevenson Square, Manchester, M1 1DN - Visit now

From household names like Taschen and Phaidon to locally made publications and small press titles, UNITOM is home to an extensive range of titles on contemporary art, design, fashion, photography and counterculture, alongside a vast number of independent magazines.

UNITOM bookshop

Matt and Phred’s

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

Tucked discreetly into the brickwork of Tib Street, next to a handful of excellent bars like Common, Matt and Phred’s hosts live jazz music every day of the week. It also wins happy hour: you literally get a free pizza when you buy two pints. Good God…

matt and phreds sign manchester music

Common Bar

Common Bar, 39-47 Edge Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1HW - Visit now

Tucked away on the aptly named Edge Street, Common does innovation well, with a rotating art exhibition and an array of cultural happenings. The craft beer selection is excellent and if you head in at the right time an incredibly moreish 14″ Nell’s Pizza can be yours for just £7.77.

Common Bar in Manchester's Northern Quarter
Ben Williams

Yoga Soul

Yoga Soul, Yoga Soul, 49a Newton Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1FT - Visit now

Yoga Soul is a people-driven hub of good vibes, which you can find on Newton Street in the Northern Quarter, providing a platform and a home for you to take part in Manchester’s yogi community, to help you grow your yoga practice in a way that is significant to you.

Madeleine Penfold

More Northern Quarter events

MusicManchester
Manchester Psych Fest 2024

Manchester Psych Fest, the UK’s trailblazing psychedelic music and arts festival has announced a massive bill for its 2024 edition.

from £45.20
Until
ComedyManchester
Creatures of the Night Comedy Club

An insanely committed seven-nights-a-week, Creatures of the Night Comedy Club opens its doors (20.30-22.30 typically, though please check) for evening after evening of side-splitting comedy.

from £5.00
Until
ComedyManchester
XS Malarkey

Providing award-winning Comedy since 1997, XS Malarkey is a not-for-profit comedy club, hosted every week by Toby Hadoke.

from £3
ActivityManchester
Beyond the Music 2024

Hear directly from the people powering the music industry in both Manchester and the UK, as well as witnessing some of the North’s upcoming talent at Beyond the Music.

from £16.75
Until
MusicManchester
Open Deck at Band on the Wall

Bring your records for a spin at our Open Deck session this Saturday! If you’ve bought some new vinyl from a local record shop this week, just show your receipt at the bar to get yourself a free 9” pizza!

MusicManchester
Un-Convention Manchester 2024

Un-Convention is the ultimate independent music industry conference and showcase taking place at Band on the Wall in Manchester this November.

Where to go in Manchester

Manchester
Restaurant
Fenix

Modern Greek Mediterranean cuisine from the team behind Tattu.

Universally Manchester Festival 6-9 June 2024
Manchester
The University of Manchester

Celebrating its 200th year in 2024, The University of Manchester is the largest single-site university in the UK, and boasts come incredible cultural institutions, found on campus, across Manchester and…

Alborz
Levenshulme
Restaurant
Alborz

Much-loved Persian restaurant on Stockport in Levenshulme, reopened after a lengthy lockdown-related hiatus.

Manchester
Restaurant
Jaan

New food concept from the team behind Another Hand, based at Exhibition and serving up exceptional Persian cuisine.

The Rose & Monkey Hotel
Manchester
Restaurant
The Rose & Monkey Hotel

The Rose & Monkey Hotel is one of the Northern Quarter’s best music-led bars, with a truly impressive beer garden. Our new favourite Manchester pub.

Skof by Tom Barnes
Manchester
Restaurant
Skof by Tom Barnes

One of the year’s biggest restaurant launches, Skof comes to Manchester’s Noma district, headed up by star of Simon Rogan’s restaurants, chef Tom Barnes.

Maya
Manchester
Restaurant
MAYA Manchester

MAYA is a stylish new restaurant and bar on the corner of Canal Street and Chorlton in central Manchester.

Manchester Visitor Guides

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Federal Cafe Bar
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Blossom on trees in Manchester
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Bars in Manchester

The best new bars in Manchester, plus some old favourites for good measure.

Stately Homes in the North

The North of England is blessed with countless stunning stately homes, many dating back decades and even centuries. Here are some of the very best.

UNITOM bookshop
Bookshops in Manchester

Manchester is a UNESCO City of Literature, so of course there are a few go-tos for books. Read our guide to discover the best places to pick them up.

Manchester Restaurant Deals

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Manchester District Guides

Pillock at Contact
Spotlight on

Fringe Theatre in Manchester and the North

Check out our top picks of shows previewing in the North West before heading to Edinburgh Fringe Festival later in the summer.

Take me there

Culture Guides