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The terrible events of last month when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device packed with nuts and bolts to act as shrapnel, in the foyer area of the Manchester Arena, are still very much on many people's minds. The attack took place after an Ariana Grande concert and as horific and deadly as it proved to be, it could never detract from the freedom and inclusivity that's the hallmark of the UK's most exciting city. The response from that city and from Ariana Grande two weeks later, with that star-studded concert at Old Trafford, defied those who would try and change our way of life. Manchester was once known as Europe's Dance Capital, as they really do know how to party.

OutUK correspondent Adrian Gillan hits Manchester and can't resist where else but Canal Street, arguably the gayest street on Earth - amidst arguably Earth’s most perfectly-proportioned queer quarter!

SIGHTS

But first, on arrival - before all-things-gay - do take a quick look around! Browse Manchester Cathedral, Manchester Town Hall and the City Art Gallery; or jump a tram to renovated Salford Quays for The Lowry arts centre and Imperial War Museum North.

Catch a play or show at the Royal Exchange Theatre or Palace Theatre. Definitely hear a concert at the state-of-the-art Bridgewater Hall, home to the world-renowned Halle Orchestra, oft under the baton of Sir Mark Elder, and offering an eclectic programme to suit all tastes, all year round. Shop at the mammoth Arndale Centre; or eat well in China Town.

Imperial War Museum North
Imperial War Museum North at Salford Quays.
Courtesy: Marketing Manchester
Enjoy the Manchester United Museum & Tour and National Football Museum). Then, wait for it boys: that world-famous scene!

SCENE

Here are some top tips to check-out, although – rest assured – there is quite a bit else besides!

The New Union in Princess Street, of Queer As Folk fame, is an earthy punters’ pub which has strived more recently to revert to its former gay glory days so crowds of come-and-be-cool hens aren’t bumping the froth off your beer! An equally established option is the Rembrandt in nearby Sackville Street, just along the canal – now all modern with a spacious bar.

Those happiest to just sip-and-stare-and-sip in a comfy local can safely hang out in The Goose or even the nearby Thompson's Arms. Catering to more dragged-up glitzy, cheesy tastes, check out friendly New York, New York in Bloom Street. Via boasts a busy, sprawling Gothic-themed wooden interior.

G-A-Y back on Canal Street, is both swish and vibrant rising over three floors, whilst On Bar is a new bar concept from the gay club promotion company Orange Nation.

Also on Canal Street, for food, try fab-value Villaggio, or a tad more Bohemian and even more swish Velvet which is both a restaurant and an hotel, and their rooms are wonderfully decorated in different styles.

Canal Street Manchester
Canal Street. Courtesy: Marketing Manchester
Napoleons is a very established venue in Manchester's Gay Village. It is open five nights every week (Wednesday to Sunday) until very late, with a host of nights to suit everyone. The Eagle Bar offers a unique experience for MEN from all over the UK and beyond. Each of the different segments of this incomparable venue aims to explore the depths of your mind, and promises to deliver a diverse night out in a relaxed enviroment.

In a lighter vein, Company Bar is designed for gay men to visit after work for a relaxing drink before the trip back home with a happy hour drink offer going on late into the evening. Within the same building The Molly House serves up real ales, beers, wines and spirits alongside fresh, authentic Spanish and South American tapas.

Cruz 101 Manchester
Cruz 101. Courtesy: Apex - Cruz 101
All that's enough to set you dancing? Cruz 101 in Princess Street is Manchester's longest-running gay club - a real stalwart, arts ‘n all, busy all-week-round. Open Wednesday - Sunday, Cruz 101 offers a range of Gay clubbing nights with music policies from Pop & Chart to Vocal & Commercial House.

Late nights are found at Alter Ego a night-club on Princess Street where you will find themed events with everything from 80's pop to metal nights.

Just off "The Street" Baa-Bar is a bright ‘n fun “shooter bar” with mirrors, glitter balls and lots of pink neon! There's also AXM, a bar with its focus on late night dancing and themed events. It is open everyday from 11pm until the early hours.

Clone Zone started right here! Also check out the Base Sauna which is right below it or steamy Basement Complex in Tarriff Street a short distance away.

STAY

Adrian stayed at the stylish, modern 4-star Novotel Manchester Centre, slap-bang in the middle of Manchester, near all scene and sights.
All 164 modern rooms have wifi and satellite TV, and maybe even treat yourself to an executive room or suite for added perks!

Relax in the fitness centre, complete with sauna and Hamam steam room. Gorge at the Elements Restaurant; or chill in the adjoining bar - perfect for coffee or cocktails.

Novotel Manchester City Centre
Novotel Manchester City Centre. Courtesy: Novotel
There is a wide choice of accommodation including both hotels and apartments in the city centre and you can get the best prices at our hotel partners Booking.com.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

The New Union (111 Princess Street; T: 0161 228 1492; Website)
Rembrandt (33 Sackville Street; T: 0161 236 1311; Website)
The Goose (29 Bloom Street; T: 0161 236 1246)
Thompson's Arms (23 Sackville Street; 0161 237 5919)
New York, New York (94 Bloom Street; T: 0161 236 6556; Website)
Via (28-30 Canal Street; T: 0161 236 6523; Website)
G-A-Y (10 Canal Street; T: 0161 228 6201; Website)
On Bar (46 Canal St; T: 0161 207 2107; Website)
Villaggio (44 Canal Street; T: 0161 244 5222; Website)
Velvet (2 Canal Street; T: 0161 236 9003; Website)
Napoleons (35 Bloom St; T: 0161 236 8800; Website)
Eagle Manchester (15 Bloom St; T: 0161 228 6669; Website)
Company Bar (28 Richmond St; T: 0161 237 9329; Website)
The Molly House (26 Richmond St; T: 0161 237 9329; Website)
Cruz 101 (101 Princess St; T: 0161 237 1544; Website)
Alter Ego (105 Princess St; T: 0161 236 9266; Website)
AXM (100 Bloom St; T: 0161 228 7474; Website)
Clone Zone (36-38 Sackville Street; T: 0161 236 1398; Website)
Base Sauna (36-38 Sackville Street; T: 0161 236 3876; Website)
Basement Complex (18 Tarriff Street; T: 0161 236 8131; Website)
Novotel Manchester Centre (21 Dickinson Street; T: 0161 619 9003; Website)

For general info on Manchester: visitmanchester.com
There's a detailed guide to Canal Street: canal-st.co.uk
Manchester Pride runs every year, late August: manchesterpride.com
Manchester Piccadilly is just 2 hours away from London Euston, and even closer from other major UK cities, by Virgin Trains: virgintrains.co.uk

Revised June 2017.

 

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