Manchester is the model of a vibrant model city, and nowhere is this more apparent than the beating heart of the LGBTQ community – canal street and the surrounding Gay Village. In the last twenty years or so, this once seedy area just south of Chinatown has transformed itself into a beautiful (if flamboyant) swan.
Now the area offers lush green spaces, quirky shops, unusual eateries and a guaranteed party in the evening. The accepting and celebratory vibe of the village fakes it a firm favourite with the weekend clubbing crowd, but it is the welcoming community that ensures it is popular all week long.
Leave your judgement at home and step out to explore one of the most colourful neighbourhoods the city has to offer.
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Richmond Tea Rooms
Afternoon Tea has been elevated to a British art form, and nowhere achieves perfection quite like the Richmond Tea Rooms. Offering an Alice in Wonderland themed experience, guests can expect tasteful if decadent interiors and the most glorious cakes that will tempt even the most determined dieter.
Loose leaf tea adds an element of nostalgia and there are Breakfast and light eating options available. This is a great day stop in what is a notoriously evening and night time hangout in the city. It also remains completely on brand for the area and combines whimsy and class effortlessly.
The Molly House
Get a taste of the exotic with the famous Gay Village welcome. The Molly House offers authentic Spanish and South American Tapas with platter style sharers so you can get social (or just be indecisive).
For those who prefer their adventure off their plates, The Molly House have added their ever popular burgers to the menu, which are great before a night out on the town. The Molly House also has a huge selection of local beers and ales, as well as cocktails, spirits and wines that will suit every palate or picky connoisseur.
No. 1 Canal Street
One of the most upstanding establishments on Canal Street, this now infamous restaurant is a clear indication of the fresh direction that the area is moving towards. The paired back interior of No.1 Canal Street is a far cry from the flamboyance found elsewhere but the menu offers an amalgamation of beloved food classics with an upmarket twist.
They cater to the herbivores with pulled Jackfruit burgers and there are plenty of healthy options to appease the figure conscious. They also have a fairly sized wine list and an ever changing cocktail list to compliment your meal.
This Lebanese restaurant on Chorlton Street fuses industrial chic with middle eastern flair. Authentic flavours are presented in an instagram worthy fashion and the welcoming and accessible attitude ensures everyone will have a great and relaxed evening.
With an extensive menu that offers both lighter bites and hearty traditional plates, no one comes away hungry from Jasmine.
Mr White’s English Chophouse
A recent addition to the area, Mr White’s English Chophouse has been open for less than a year but has taken its place as one of the staples of the Village. This Marco Pierre White restaurant offers the best of British cuisine alongside an extensive drinks menu.
Though still reasonably priced, this upmarket addition to Canal Street is helping to elevate the street and make it more than a party stop. It still offers an accessible attitude, like everywhere in the Gay village, but it also offers some respite from the hen and stag parties that litter the streets later on.
There is no better way of describing this venue than in their own words- ‘IndieDiscoElectroHomoMadHiphopBritPopFunkyKindaShagtasticQueerThing’. This is very much a ‘go big or go home’ kind of place so leave you inhibitions at the door because you are guaranteed a great night.
They are open all week with a host of different themed nights, such as ‘Skint’ (unsurprisingly the drinks are cheap) and Poptastic, Manchester’s longest running weekly alternative club night.
For more information check out the official Facebook page.
Via is the Matron of the Gay Village clubs, not in a dignified way, she is as shameless as ever, just been around the block a few times. With hilarious regular drag acts, seductive cabarets and vibrant theme nights it is a place to go out out. Check out what events they have planned and get yourself ready for an unparalleled evening in the Gay Village.
We say this with love, Centre Stage is a dive bar but in the best possible way! It is camp and over the top but you can’t help but love it. It is a piece of Canal Street History that you can party in. They have regular events like cabaret and karaoke to make it accessible but even if you dont join in, it is a gem of a dive bar and one of our favourites.
Places of Interest
Alan Turing Memorial
While it may seem to be all parties and pomp, there is real history behind the Gay Village and how it came to be one of the UK’s first LGBTQ communities. The Alan Turing Memorial is a lasting reminder of some of the prejudice this community faced.
Since the film The Imitation Game came out, the awareness for some of the pivotal members of British history, and how they were condemned for their sexual preferences has come to light.
So while we revel in feathers and glitter, and admire what an incredible destination this is to come play in, it is worth visiting the memorial and acknowledging the sacrifices that have been made to make Canal Street what it is today.