Manchester can claim world-famous football teams, a rich cultural heritage and one of the liveliest LGBT communities in the UK. Centred around Canal Street, the city’s gay village caters for all tastes, from traditional pubs to intimate cruising clubs. We pick the best places to get out and about in our guide to gay Manchester.
The epicentre of gay Manchester is Canal Street. One of the oldest, largest and busiest gay bars on the strip today, Via features exposed brickwork, gold rococo mirrors and chandeliers. Sparkly G-A-Y Manchester, the northern cousin of London’s G-A-Y, appeals to a younger, student crowd with pop hits and cheap drinks deals.
A more traditional-style gay pub, Churchills has regular cabaret and drag shows. Some of the gayest venues are found in the adjacent streets, like large, men-only Eagle Manchester, attracting a sexy, masculine crowd.
Since opening in 1998, sleek lesbian bar Vanilla was named the UK’s Best Bar by leading lesbian magazine Diva and has regular DJs, live acoustic sets and open mic nights.
Billed as Manchester’s oldest gay venue, Napoleons is popular with trans people. Finally, try old favourite Cruz 101, it’s the largest dance club in Manchester’s gay village.
Not planning on doing much sleeping? Look no further than Velvet Hotel. One of TripAdvisor’s top-ranked hotels in Manchester, it’s in the middle of the action and offers rooms at a reduced “Clubbing” rate. The 16 rooms and 3 penthouse suites are individually decorated in an industrial boudoir style, with lavish king-size beds, chandeliers, and exposed brick walls.
Dating from 1853, Free Trade Hall is a grand colonnaded building revamped as a 5-star Radisson Blu Edwardian. There are 263 rooms and suites, 2 restaurants, a champagne bar, a destination spa and oodles of contemporary glamour.
A former cotton merchant’s warehouse moments from Canal Street, ABode is a 4-star hotel that retains many original Victorian features but gives them a modern British twist. There are 61 bedrooms, the best being the FABulous On Fifth suites – 5 loft-style suites whose stylish décor includes work by renowned artists such as David Hockney and Yoko Ono.
Throughout August, Manchester’s gay village plays host to one of the biggest dates in the gay calendar: Manchester Pride. The month-long Pride Fringe celebrates the diversity of LGBT life, including art, culture and sport. This cumulates in the Big Weekend - a massive Pride Parade.
Manchester is in the northwest of England, 200 miles from London. Regular trains connect Manchester to London in about 2hr 15mins. Manchester Airport is 20 minutes by train from the city centre. The UK’s third busiest airport, it’s served by flights from Europe, the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia.