These days, Manchester has far more to offer than disused factories and stagnant canals. Since the 1980s, the city’s leaders have helped it turn the corner and make the transition from downtrodden industrial capital to hip urban destination. New residential units in the city’s core remain affordable by London standards, and the surrounding restaurants, museums and points of interest attract international tourists in ever-increasing numbers. What follows is a very partial rundown of the best Manchester has to offer at night.
1. Tiger Tiger
Although several other venues would beg to differ, Tiger Tiger is the current king of Manchester’s clubbing scene. With a combined capacity of 2,000 at peak hours, the facility boasts three dance floors, six bars, and several karaoke rooms. Locals and tourists alike rave about Tiger Tiger’s themed dance areas, including one knockout replica of an Ibiza nightclub. Who knew it was possible to experience late-night Mediterranean flair without leaving
the North of England?
2. Cuba Cafe
For a quieter but no less unforgettable experience, Cuba Cafe can’t be beaten. It’s been described as a cross between a Chicago jazz club and a Miami salsa bar, and the crowds are always respectful despite packing the place to the gills on weekend nights. Part of this may be due to the venue’s strict over-25 policy on peak nights.
This place is tucked away in a corner of Manchester’s Chinatown, so you have to work a little to find it. Once you do, though, you’ll be blown away by its state-of-the art karaoke facilities and dance floors. K2 cost its owners nearly 3 million pounds to open, and it shows: Its bar supports glisten with subtle neon lights and the atmosphere is decadent without feeling exclusive. As an added bonus, K2 is one of the most ethnically-diverse nightclubs in all of northern England.
4. AXM Bar & Club
If you’re looking for a hybrid bar-club experience, AXM is right up your alley. The place is a lively, stylish bar by day and a throbbing nightclub after dark, with door-busting Tuesday night student deals and an after-hours Saturday night club experience that has remained an open secret in Manchester’s LGBT community since AXM opened back in 2004. Whether you’re looking to meet up with old friends for a quick evening drink or connect with new ones on the dance floor, AXM offers the best of both worlds.
5. Black Dog Ballroom
Located below ground level in the city’s world-famous Northern Quarter, the Black Dog is anything but a typical nightclub. After taking one look at its blond-wood paneling and unpretentious bar-room atmosphere, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into a local pub in the American Midwest. The Black Dog never ceases to surprise, though, staying open until four in the morning and serving gourmet burgers, pizza and other bar fare until three hours before close. Savvy party-goers dine and drink here before moving on to the district’s other venues.
Manchester’s nightlife is slowly earning the national recognition it deserves. The city’s center is often divided into several districts, with the Northern Quarter housing many of its most innovative bars and clubs and Oxford Road catering to its extensive student population. Wherever you end up, Manchester won’t disappoint you after dark.
Claire Taylor is a freelance writer living in London. She writes for manchesterhotels.org and loves to recommend the site for finding the best hotels in Manchester. Click here to read more on Manchester.