5 Unique Ways to Have Fun in Manchester
A few weeks ago, the Visit Manchester team invited us to spend a weekend in their city. We'll be honest, we didn't know much about Manchester other than the fact that they've got a killer football/soccer team. So, we were excited to explore this relatively unknown (to us) city.
Manchester has a lot going for it. It has an incredibly vibrant creative energy, with contributions to art, literature, and music that go well beyond what you’d expect from a city of half a million. There's a lot we want to say about this city, so, to start, here are 5 unique ways to have fun in Manchester.
5 Unique Ways to Have Fun in Manchester
1. Peep the Street Art in the Northern Quarter
We went on a street art tour of the Northern Quarter with Skyliner's Hayley Flynn. Hayley taught us a lot about Manchester’s hipster artsy neighborhood’s past, including its roots as an exotic pet store neighborhood in the early 1900s. If you look closely, you can see homages to it's pet store past all over - don't forget to look up. Over two hours Hayley told us all about the city’s best murals and the many art installations - including some tropical ceramic birds and pineapples (Did you know there was ceramic street art? We didn't!). You can book a walking tour with her here.
2. Create some Bespoke Cocktails at Science & Industry
If you’re into cocktails, Science & Industry, the speakeasy-style cocktail bar, offers cocktail making classes on request. The bartenders at Science & Industry are passionate about their trade, and it shows. During our session, we made two custom house cocktails: a variant of the classic Aviation cocktail and a butter-smooth rum-based cocktail with coffee and chilli pepper. You can book your own private cocktail lesson on their website here.
If you'd rather relax and have the cocktails made for you, you can also stop by Science & Industry for a classic or a bespoke cocktail crafted in-house. (see our post 9 Places to Eat and Drink in Manchester for more ideas on food and drinks)
3. Embrace the Sheer Nuttiness of Bongo’s Bingo
Okay, so when you think Bingo, a wild night out is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Fortunately, Bongo's Bingo is the furthest thing from the bingo your granny plays. We arrived not knowing what to expect, and were worried that it was going to be a dull affair. Bongo's Bingo is the furthest thing from that.
It's is located in Albert Hall, a beautiful former church-turned concert hall. While beautiful, the space also lends itself to some fantastic acoustics and a concert-like atmosphere. In between (and during) rounds of bingo are DJ sets, dancers in drag, confetti, laser shows and some great (and hilarious) prizes. Sometimes, Bongo's Bingo even has special guests that you thought you'd never see again. We hear Jazzy Jeff was a guest once. The locals know how to light it up, and the atmosphere is totally infectious. Before we went, we had planned on staying for an hour, but ended up staying until the absolute end.
Let's put it this way, we would travel to Manchester just to experience this again.
4. Browse through Manchester’s Historic Libraries
For a more relaxed and tranquil experience, you can get your inner nerd on by visiting some of Manchester’s many old libraries:
- John Rylands Library - With its Victorian Gothic architecture, this library looks more like a place of worship or castle from the outside.
- Chetham's Library - The oldest public library in the English-speaking world, Chetham's is also where Marx and Engels thought up the Communist Manifesto. The library building still maintains its 1400s character, with “newer” furniture dating back to the 1600s.
- Manchester Central Library - Check out its impressively massive domed study room on the 2nd floor (or 1st floor if you’re European).
- Portico Library - This library is a tranquil members-only research library and communal workspace dating back to 1806. You will need to buzz out front and sweet talk the reception to enter.
5. Unleash your Inner Viking at Whistle Punk Axe Throwing
If you really want to try something different, Whistle Punks Axe Throwing lets you chuck axes at wooden targets with your friends. You can even have a tournament to decide who's the biggest boss. We were skeptical at first too, but you'll probably enjoy this more than you think.