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.

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, 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, 39 Tib Street, Manchester, M41LX - 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, 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

Where to go in Manchester


New to Stevenson’s Square, Public is the Northern Quarter’s new local, from the team behind Evelyn’s.

GK Gallery

This Chapel Street gallery and tea room hosts 8-12 week long exhibitions giving emerging artists a chance to showcase their work.

Bags of Flavour

Bags of Flavour is the Northern Quarter’s answer to high end vintage with high quality exclusive garments and accessories.


Every piece in IDAHO has something special and will guarantee to make your homes, offices and wardrobes feel a little more inspiring.

Music venue
Progress Centre

Having served two summers of temporary parties, Progress Centre has been reinvented into a new permanent outdoor club in central Manchester, which is hosting a string of massive parties this…

Cheetham Hill
Osaka Local

Wonderful Japanese street food vendor, often found at Grub and other street food events in and around Manchester and the North.

The Wishing Well

A new gastro pub in Didsbury Village, specialising in hearty meals and high-quality drinks. 

Manchester Visitor Guides

Blossom on trees in Manchester
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20 Stories eat outside in Manchester
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UNITOM bookshop
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Britons Protection entrance.
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Winnie the Pooh at Manchester Opera House

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Gerry Potter (credit Lee Baxter)

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