Playful things to do
With Manchester being one of the friendliest places in the country and one of the gayest, there’s a fabulous feathery boa of a fun night out to be had in the Gay Village. Most of the bars are as mixed as a drag queen’s wig collection, so drag yourself along.
You know that urge you get on a night out in a cool bar with great DJs, brilliant art and a fine selection of drinks, when you just need a game of table tennis? Yes, that feeling. Well, at Twenty Twenty Two, you can ping pong while you pogo with your pinot grigio.
Whether you’re after an evening drink, something to eat or you want to catch a gig, Gorilla is the silverback of Manchester venues, with a great menu, a gin parlour where you can indulge in great cocktails, and a performance space holding about 500. It’s your whole night out, sorted.
With a 4am licence that keeps the place bursting at the weekends, and more rum than you’d find in a pirate’s liquor larder, The Liars Club is tiki cocktail heaven. They really know their stuff here, and there’s always a flaming drink on the menu, so make sure it’s not your pants that are on fire, liar!
Just inside Salford, this post-work or late-night New York speakeasy-style bar offers a concise cocktail menu that hits all the right notes, as do the DJs playing a great range of Motown, soul and disco. Almost impossible to find, too, which makes it even more fun.
Vintage vestments never go out of fashion. Spread over several floors, Afflecks is a castle of clothing, mixing second-hand quality gear with original designer items, from beaten-up old leather jackets to funky girly T-shirts. It’s one of a number of great vintage shops in the city.
If you like your fashion to reflect your own sense of personal style, you could turn your hand to making your own clothes or sprucing up your tired garments. Manchester offers some great sewing classes, so you can learn new skills as you put your own frills to your fashion thrills.
An independent unisex salon where you can go in looking like a dog’s dinner and come out looking like the beauty of the North. The cuts won’t cut too deep a hole in your pockets and the music is a treat – you’ll have so much fun, you almost don’t need to go clubbing afterwards.
Sophisticated things to do
The £15m redevelopment at the Whitworth Art Gallery has paid off, with visitor numbers going through its beautiful roof, attracted by exhibitions of internationally significant work to match the stunning building. And with late opening until 9pm on Thursdays, a glass of wine in the lovely parkside café after a tour around the gallery makes for a highly enjoyable night out.
Some of the best theatre in the region happens in the round at Manchester’s glorious Royal Exchange, where the space is as impressive as what’s on stage. During April, catch the intense new production of Tolsty’s ‘Anna Karenina’, adapted by Scottish playwright Jo Clifford.
Quite simply, Cloud 23 offers the very best views in the city. Yes, the cocktails are magnificent, as you’d expect from a watering hole at the Hilton hotel, but there’s no denying that looking out over the city and beyond from the 23rd floor of Beetham Tower, as the sun goes down and the twinkling lights come out, is as delicious as the drinks.
One of the newer players in high-end dining in the city is Manchester House, where a cocktail bar offers tastes as sophisticated as those created in the impressive kitchen. The views of the city are as spectacular as the drinks on offer.
After a movie, do you like to discuss and critique it over a glass of wine? Did you appreciate the mise-en-scène, the narrative structure? Did you like the bit with the burping contest? Whatever you like about films, joining Manchester Film Fans means going as a group, mainly to Saturday matinées, so you can start your weekend cinematically.
It’s not only inside a cinema that you can indulge your love of film. Manchester’s world-class concert venue, Bridgewater Hall, hosts film-themed orchestra nights in April, one devoted to the talents of Gene Kelly, plus ‘A Night at the Movies’ with film composer David Arnold, featuring the Manchester Camerata.
Anyone with even a passing interest in fashion shouldn’t miss this gem of a museum just outside the city centre. The array of vintage couture, hats and shoes, from the seventeenth century to the present day, is simply stunning, the largest collection of its type in Britain. Look for pieces by Ossie Clark and Christian Dior, and a recently acquired Givenchy dress that belonged to Audrey Hepburn.
Do you like your jewellery with a touch of the individual about it? Head to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, where several of the stalls are devoted to handmade, unique pieces. Elegant, surprising and affordable, the artistry and impressive designs of the jewellery, ceramics and furniture match the beauty of the 1873 building, a former fish market.