What to do in Manchester this summer.

After whar seems like the longest of winters, summer is finally here in Manchester.
We aren’t famed for our great weather but when we do get the sunshine theres no better city in the world to spend time in.
From cricket matches at Old Trafford to music festivals in Heaton Park, the city has a real excitment and buzz to it when the sun comes out.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there’s an abundance of activities and attractions to keep you entertained under the warm British sun. Here’s your ultimate guide to making the most of Manchester in the summer.

Explore the Northern Quarter

Begin your Manchester summer adventure in the Northern Quarter, the city’s hipster haven. This area is renowned for its bohemian atmosphere, independent shops, quirky cafes, and vibrant street art. Wander around the narrow streets and alleys to discover hidden gems like vintage boutiques, record stores, and art galleries. Don’t miss Afflecks, espoecially our friends at Gingers comfort emporium for some of the best ice cream on the planet. The perfect way to cool off.
A good spot to sit and watch the world go by is Stevenson square where as soon as the sun comes out, so do the chairs and tables of the surrounding bars. Get their early to bag your seats.

Visit Manchester’s Parks and Green Spaces

Manchester boasts numerous parks and green spaces perfect for a summer day out. Heaton Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Europe, offers beautiful gardens, a boating lake, an animal center, and historic buildings like Heaton Hall. For a more central location, head to Whitworth Park and the adjacent Whitworth Art Gallery, where you can enjoy contemporary art exhibitions amidst serene surroundings.

Enjoy the Canal Cruises

Experience Manchester from a different perspective by taking a canal cruise. The city’s waterways are a testament to its industrial past, and a leisurely boat trip along the Rochdale Canal or Bridgewater Canal offers a relaxing way to see the sights. Companies like Manchester River Cruises provide guided tours that highlight the city’s history and landmarks, making for an informative and scenic journey.

Attend a Festival

Summer in Manchester means festival season. The city hosts a variety of events celebrating music, food, culture, and more. For music lovers, Parklife Festival at Heaton Park features top international acts across multiple genres. New Order are playing Wythenshawe park this August in what promises to be one of the biggest nights in the city this year. There’s the sounds of the city festival at Castlefield bowl and a variety of smaller more intimate events taking place across the city throughout the summer.

Discover the History and Culture

It will rain at some point, so when it does dive into Manchester’s rich history by visiting its renowned museums and galleries. The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is a must-see, offering interactive exhibits that explore the city’s role in the Industrial Revolution. The People’s History Museum provides insights into Britain’s social history, focusing on the labor movement and democracy. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Manchester Art Gallery, home to an impressive collection of British and European art.

Picnic at Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden

For a tranquil retreat, Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden is the perfect spot. Located in Didsbury, this botanical garden features beautifully landscaped gardens, rockeries, and lush greenery. Pack a picnic and enjoy a peaceful afternoon amidst the natural beauty. The gardens are also home to a variety of wildlife, making it a great place for nature lovers.

Indulge in Manchester’s Culinary Scene

Manchester’s food scene is as diverse as its population. Summer is an excellent time to explore the city’s outdoor dining options. Cutting room square in Ancoats is always a popular spot to grab a bite and sit in the sun. Rudy’s pizza and seven brothers brewery are two of our favourite spots. There’s also the street food markets like GRUB, where you can sample delicious dishes from independent vendors while enjoying live music and entertainment.

Experience Manchester’s Nightlife

As the sun sets, Manchester’s nightlife comes alive. The city offers a wide range of options, from trendy bars in Spinningfields to traditional pubs in the city center. Head to The Oast House for a drink in their outdoor courtyard, or visit Freight Island for one of their many themed nights. For a more laid-back evening, enjoy a cocktail at one of the rooftop bars like 20 Stories, which offers stunning views of the city skyline.

Catch a Cricket Game

Visit the other Old Trafford and catch Lancashire in action in a twenty 20 match. If you’re lucky you might be able to get your hands on a ticket for an England international game taking part throughout the summer. If you’ve never been to a cricket game before Old Trafford is one of the best grounds to visit as there’s a myriad of other activites going on as well as some great local food and drink vendors on site.

Day Trips and Excursions

Finally, take advantage of Manchester’s excellent transport links to explore the surrounding areas. The picturesque Peak District National Park is just a short train ride away and offers stunning landscapes, hiking trails, and charming villages. Alternatively, visit the historic town of Chester or the seaside resort of Blackpool for a change of scenery.

    From its rich cultural heritage to its dynamic contemporary scene, Manchester offers a plethora of activities and attractions to enjoy during the summer. Whether you’re exploring its historic sites, indulging in its culinary delights, or simply soaking up the sun in one of its beautiful parks, Manchester is a city that promises a memorable summer experience.

    Our food tours are a great way to explore the city and visit some of our favourite eating places along the way. We’re very busy in the sumer months so reserve your places as soon as you can by visiting www.manchesterbites.com/tours.

    A photo of Stevenson square in the summertime.

    5 Manchester Christmas Gift Ideas

    It’s that time of year again when we struggle to find the perfect gift for loved ones. What to buy the person who has everything or that friend who says they don;t care but you know that they really do.

    We’ve put a list of Manchester inspired Christmas gift ideas together. We hope it helps.

    Manchester Bee Gifts

    The Manchester bee has become a symbol of resilience and unity, representing the city’s spirit in the face of challenges. Gift your loved ones a piece of Mancunian pride with Manchester bee merchandise. From cozy hoodies and stylish tote bags to delicate jewelry, there are countless options adorned with this iconic emblem. Not only do these items make for thoughtful gifts, but they also carry a powerful message of strength and community.
    You can shop online at the Manchestershop.

    Locally made arts and crafts gifts

    The Northern Quarter is a hub of creativity and innovation in Manchester. Explore local artisanal markets and boutique stores to discover handcrafted goods that make for unique and memorable Christmas gifts. Consider items such as handmade candles, bespoke ceramics, or locally produced artwork. By choosing artisanal goods from the Northern Quarter, you not only support local artists and makers but also give a one-of-a-kind present that reflects the city’s creative energy.

    Head to our friends at the Manchester craft and design centre on Oak street and see what you can find.

    Manchester Gin or Craft Beer gift sets

    For those who appreciate the finer things in life, a Manchester gin, rum or craft beer set is an ideal Christmas gift. We’ve got a thriving craft beverage scene, with numerous distilleries and breweries producing high-quality libations. Create a custom gift set featuring a bottle of Manchester gin, a selection of craft beers from local breweries, and perhaps a bottle of the legendary Salford rum. It’s a tasteful way to share the distinctive flavours of Manchester and the surrounding area with friends and family.

    The Gift of Music

    Manchester has a rich musical heritage, from the legendary sounds of Oasis to the iconic venues that have hosted countless performances. Gift the music lover in your life a piece of Manchester’s sonic history with memorabilia from their favourite artists or concerts. This could include vintage concert posters, limited edition vinyl records, or even tickets to upcoming shows. It’s a thoughtful nod to the city’s cultural significance in the world of music.

    Food and Drink Gift Vouchers

    If your loved one is a real food lover then what better gift than a food tour voucher for one of our food tours in Manchester. We’ve got vouchers for join in tours as well as private tours for those special occassions. You can easily buy vouchers which have a full 6 month expiry so you can wait until the weather gets a bit warmer. If there’s a special occassion please let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

    Click here to buy vouchers


    Manchester Christmas Bee

    New Century Hall.

    New century hall is a name synonymous with Manchester’s music scene.

    Built in 1963 the venue played host to names like Jimmy Hendrix, The Bee Gees, The Rolling Stones and Tina Turner. It was famous for having both excellent acoustics and a sprung dance floor.

    As Manchester’s music scene changed the venue hosted many an acid-house party in the 80’s.

    It was in the latter part of the 20th century that the area around New century hall became an almost forgotten part of Manchester. While other parts of the city were being developed the area we now know as NOMA was very much left alone. Businesses moved to more attractive area’s and the New century development was left behind.

    Last year a relaunch occurred and once more New Century hall was on the lips of those in the know of where to go. Being a listed building has meant that many of the original interior remains. The dance floor is still the original spring version. The lights still date back to the early 60’s.

    The line up will always be eclectic. The bard of Salford John Cooper Clarke has performed here since the relaunch. As have countless up and coming bands as well as some more familiar names such as The Charlatans. It’s a venue that is breathing new life into an already thriving music and art scene here in Manchester.

    New Century Food Hall

    New Century hall is also where you can find one of Manchester’s newest food and drink venues. Right underneath the dance floor on the ground level is New Century Kitchen.

    8,000 square foot of independent food and drink retailers make this a must see destination for any food lovers in Manchester. Local names such as Spice Yard and Zumuku sushi are firm favourites with the crowds. In the centre of the kitchens you’ll find a bar offering local beers and spirits and some great inernational choices as well.

    Evening Food Tour

    We’ve been asked by quite a few of our clients if we’d put together and evening food tour of Manchester. New Century hall is going to be the starting point for this new project. Amazing, local food in one of Manchester’s most historical buildings. What’s not to love?

    To reserve your spot on our new evening food tour, send us an email and we’ll share all of the information.

    New Century Hall Entrance

    Mackie Mayor Food Hall: A Manchester Must-See

    Manchester’s food scene has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. And one of the key players in the city-centre dining is the Mackie Mayor Food Hall

    Housed in an 1858 grade 2 listed building that was one a part of the bustling Smithfield Market area, Mackie Mayor today houses an eclectic mix of food and drink vendors. From top-notch pizza at Honest Crust to amazing beers at Blackjack Brewery and Brewtap and quality, locally-sourced meat at Tender Cow, there’s really something for everyone in at Mackie Mayor.

    Sometimes we visit the food court on our From Canals To Canapés walking food tour of Manchester’s Northern Quarter and sample some of the tastiest dishes on offer while exploring the history of the area.

    Read on to learn more about this awesome food hall that blends historical charm with inventive, modern cooking. 

    The History of Mackie Mayor

    The building itself was once part of the Smithfield Market area. This neighbourhood of market halls and stalls ran from the early 19th century. Smithfield was a huge market site on the edge of the city that brought a whole community of consumers and producers together. And that’s what the Mackie Mayor aims to do today.

    During the market’s heyday, the mayor of Manchester was called Mackie, so one of the market’s buildings was inscribed with his name

    Originally used as a meat market, the building ran into disrepair during the 1970s and its future seemed to be in grave peril. 

    However, the building was one of the only surviving remnants of the former Smithfield Market. So its significance was thankfully recognised and developers Muse set about restoring and developing the site.

    The Mackie Mayor Food Hall Today

    Interior of Mackie Mayor food hall in Manchester with people dining at long tables | Manchester Bites Food Tours

    Today, Mackie Mayor has become an anchor point for Manchester’s food and drink scene. 

    Throughout the week, it’s a popular meeting point for office workers looking to grab lunch or some after-work dinner. While at weekends, the food court is busy from morning to night with shoppers, diners, and those out for a drink.

    The strength of any food hall lies in the quality and diversity of the food being served. Mackie Mayor is home to a great mix of vendors. You’ll find exciting drinks, healthy foods, international cuisine, and indulgent, comforting choices.

    A well-brewed morning pick-me-up can be found at Atkinsons Coffee Roasters. And if you’re feeling thirsty the Water Station offers sustainable, locally sourced and bottled waters. 

    Enjoy craft beers from the Black Brewing Co. microbrewery, or explore a menu of wonderful wines at Reserve. If you’re stopping for lunch, Pico’s serves delicious tacos! They’re perfect for sampling, with the chefs recommending you try about 3 tacos from the menu.

    Elsewhere, New Wave Ramen, Chilli B, and Mumma’s Fried Chicken are excellent options for a hearty dinner before a night on the town. All three vendors offer exciting vegan and veggie options, too. 

    Meat-lovers can be assured of quality from the guys at Tender Cow who prepare delicious burgers and steaks. And if you’re looking for pizza, look no further than the long-running Honest Crust. You can’t miss their sourdough pizzas.

    Check out vendor menus here. And follow the Mackie Mayor Instagram page for the latest news. 

    A customer leans on the bar waiting at Mackie Mayor food hall in Manchester | Manchester Bites Food Tours

    Other Manchester Food Markets

    Looking for similar food court options around Manchester? The owners of Mackie Mayor also own the Altrincham Market House, a short train ride from Manchester city centre. 

    Like Mackie Mayor, you’ll find great beers and wine, and food that caters to a wide range of tastes. And whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or perhaps just plain fussy, you’ll have plenty to choose from. 

    It’s also worthwhile checking out the latest news from Altrincham Market House. It’s regularly home to themed weekend markets covering regional food producers, vintage fashion and furniture, contemporary craft, and much else.

    Elsewhere, you can visit Society MCR, the city’s latest food hub. Offering exciting international street food and first-rate craft beers, there’s plenty to explore in this new addition to the city’s cultural scene. 

    Again, variety is everything in a market. At Society, you’ll find a marvellous selection of foods, from snacks to accompany your beers to satisfying meals from the likes of Slap & Pickle Burgers.

    Another famous option is the Arndale Market, conveniently located within the massive Manchester Arndale shopping centre. The market offers plenty of tasty street food options and makes for a nice, vibrant place to take a break from shopping.

    Finally, we want to give a shoutout to Hatch, an amazing confluence of creative Mancunian businesses (including more tasty food!). 

    At Hatch, you’ll find 30 independent retail, food, and drink traders that embody Manchester’s famous creative brilliance. Grab something sweet, chat over a coffee or beer, and peruse locally-made crafts. 

    Several of these spots feature on our list of the best places to visit in Manchester, with plenty more suggestions as well!

    If you’d like to learn more about Manchester and its amazing food scene, book one of our foodie walking tours of Manchester today. Manchester bites food tours take you to our favourite hidden food gems of the city. Great for visitors and locals alike. 

    If you have any questions for us about this blog or any of our tours or services, get in touch.

    This post was originally written in June 2020 and updated in March 2022.

    Interior of Mackie Mayor food hall in Manchester with people dining at long tables | Manchester Bites Food Tours

    Best Manchester Eats: The Lancashire Hotpot

    A lot of guests on our Manchester food tours ask us what are the most famous foods from Manchester? What is the typical cuisine of the region? 

    Well, given Manchester’s famously – or, perhaps, infamously – drizzly weather, it should come as no surprise that we enjoy warming, hearty dishes. 

    Rich Bury Black Puddings are served at breakfast. Eccles Cakes make a fine accompaniment to a hot cup of tea. And an indulgent Manchester Egg is just the thing after a couple of pints!

    But perhaps most beloved of all is the Lancashire Hotpot. This irresistible dish is so simple to prepare and makes a perfect choice on a cold night. 

    The History Of The Lancashire Hotpot

    First, the name. Though Manchester today has its own council area, the city has historically formed part of the county of Lancashire. A fact witnessed in the city’s sports, with Lancashire Cricket Club playing their home games just south of the city.

    Hotpot is cloaked in a little more mystery. Does it refer to the pot or the style of food being prepared? The famous 1861 cookbook Mrs Beetons Cookery Book contains a recipe for a simple stew called ‘Hotch Potch’ and it’s likely that hotpot similarly refers to any straightforward stew that can be cooked in a single pot. 

    The Lancashire Hotpot, like so many Manchester traditions, is bound to the city’s history of work. Before industrialisation, many families would work at home spinning thread. A meal that could be left to slow-cook above a fire was most convenient. 

    Following industrialisation, this characteristic of the Lancashire Hotpot became even more important. A workforce was now leaving home for several hours at a time. The hotpot was a perfect meal as you could leave it on low heat to cook while you were out.

    Hungry workers would race home at the end of a shift and find a hearty dinner awaiting them. Presumably, their home was also filled with the pleasing aroma of the stew. 

    Learn more about the city’s starring role in Britain’s Industrial Revolution with our From Canals To Canapés Manchester Food Tour

    So What Is A Lancashire Hotpot?

    Lancashire hotpot
    Lancashire hotpot

    Well, three ingredients are essential for the Lancashire Hotpot: lamb, onions, and potato. Lamb refers to the meat of a young sheep, though mutton (cheaper cuts from older sheep) was traditionally used.

    The lamb is slowly stewed along with onions, stock, and some flour to thicken. Thinly sliced potatoes are placed on top to act as a lid, sealing in the meat and veg. The dish is then cooked in the oven for an hour or so until ready.

    Couldn’t be any simpler! Although you will today find plenty of variation from the original three-ingredient recipe. 

    Carrots are often added to the stew, as are leeks and turnips. Historically, lamb’s kidneys would also be added, though this is less common today. 

    The topping is also sometimes varied, with a pastry lid added instead of potatoes.

    One notable absence from contemporary recipes is oysters. In early versions of the hotpot, oysters regularly formed part of the mix. By the 18th and 19th centuries in England, oysters were hugely popular and were added to all kinds of recipes. 

    During the 19th century, in particular, oysters were the affordable street food of choice (in the year 1864, over 700 million oysters were consumed in London alone). But due to over-fishing, oysters became the high-end delicacy we know today.

    If you like seafood, check out our blog on where to buy the best fresh fish in Manchester

    The Perfect Dish for a Cold Manchester Day

    So, why do we love our Lancashire Hotpot so much in Manchester?

    Its simplicity means that a delicious Lancashire Hotpot can be made on a budget. This was a dish for working people and you won’t need to break the bank to buy enough ingredients for a generous serving. 

    You don’t need to have a wealth of cooking knowledge to prepare the dish, and, once in the oven, you’re free to relax and get on with other things. You’ll also get plenty of nourishment from a Lancashire Hotpot. 

    In an era in which we’re repeatedly encouraged to reduce the number of processed foods in our diets, here’s a meal that’s packed with nutritional value and made only of a few fresh ingredients.

    But perhaps more than anything, we love Lancashire Hotpot because of its place in the story of our city. It’s been a staple of the Mancunian diet for a long time! 

    Travel through the city and you’ll find pub after pub serving hotpots on their menus. If you find yourself caught up in one of our rain showers, take the opportunity to find the nearest pub and order a restorative portion of Lancashire Hotpot.

    The Best Place in Manchester to Eat Lancashire Hotpot

    If you want to enjoy a real manchester experience you should try Annies on Old Bank Street. It’s our top choice for ordering a Lancashire Hotpot when in Manchester.

    Owned by Jennie McAlpine, a star of the legendary Manchester soap opera Coronation Street, Annies offers a cosy setting and an array of classic British food. 

    In addition to an out-of-this-world hotpot, head chef Richard Moore includes many other local specialities on his menu, from sausage & mash to Bury Black Pudding, and steak & ale pie.

    Those wishing to explore English culinary traditions further can also enjoy Afternoon Tea at Annies.

    How to Prepare a Lancashire Hotpot at Home

    Decided to spend a night in, or just love the thrill of cooking new dishes? Preparing a Lancashire Hotpot at home is low on effort, big on reward.

    You have a wealth of recipes to choose from with almost every British celebrity chef having given their own version of the Lancashire Hotpot.

    Excellent traditional takes on the stew can be found over on Kitchen Sanctuary or at BBC Good Food. And The Guardian’s (another Manchester institution) How to Cook the Perfect Lancashire Hotpot makes for great reading.

    And if you like testing the recipes of the famous tv chefs, you can find Jamie Oliver’s take on a lamb hotpot here

    This brings to an end our guide to the Lancashire Hotpot, but sign up for our newsletter below and we’ll keep you updated with our latest foodie news.

    If you have any questions for us about this blog or any of our foodie walking tours of Manchester, get in touch.

    This post was originally written in June 2020 and updated in March 2022.

    Lancashire hotpot

    Castlefield: What To Do In Manchester’s Canal Basin

    A great place to go on a Manchester summer afternoon is Castlefield. Situated at the southern end of Deansgate, Castlefield is a great spot for a few drinks and some lunch. The area sits in the city’s historic canal basin where converted warehouses are now home to apartments, restaurants and bars.

    As local travel experts based here in Manchester, we’re always keen for visitors to explore more of this fascinating, diverse city. That’s why we lead food tours in Manchester! We love to show off the incredible variety of cuisines and cultures that make up the heart of the city.

    If you’re looking for local things to do in Manchester and wanting to explore more of the real city, we’d love to show you around. For now, learn a bit more about the Castlefield area. Then you can plan your trip to Manchester and feel like a local.

    A History Of Castlefield

    Castlefield was the centrepoint of Manchester’s earliest beginnings. A Roman fort was built here around 79AD and from this springs the city we know and love today. The name Castlefield itself represents the fort (castle) which was then surrounded by farmland (i.e. the field).

    We’ve already explained what the people of Manchester are called, but it’s these very Roman origins that give us the word we still use today for a person from Manchester: Mancunian.

    Walking down Liverpool Road, you can see the ruins of Mamucium (the Roman name for Manchester) opposite the Science and Industry Museum. But ancient Roman ties isn’t the only historically significant part of the area’s story; in fact, Castlefield has remained at the heart of Manchester across the centuries. 

    A village developed and flourished in the area throughout the middle ages. Then, during the Industrial Revolution, the Bridgewater Canal, the world’s first industrial canal, arrived in Castlefield. This area was the at very epicentre of the industrialisation of Britain, a process of change that would have a global impact.

    Liverpool Road was also the site of the world’s first passenger train service. In the 1830s, the route between Manchester and Liverpool opened here.

    Sadly, after the boom years of the Industrial Revolution, Castlefield was to endure a period of neglect. The old warehouses and canals were left to ruin.

    It wasn’t until the late 1980s that life started to be breathed back into the area. Enterprising developers began to buy land around the canal basin. Soon, the old warehouses were turning into trendy flats and bars. The canals were cleaned up, and now it is common to see fish, ducks and other wildlife enjoying them.

    Dukes 92 Loch in Manchester

    Things to Do in Castlefield Today

    Castlefield is a hive of activity these days. The area around Liverpool Road is where you’ll find the Science and Industry Museum and the old Roman Fort. We included the museum in our list of the best places to visit in Manchester, but there are loads more recommendations there for you to enjoy!

    There is also a great bar near Castlefield called Cask, which has a fantastic array of craft beers to enjoy. Further towards the canal, you’ll find the Castlefield Bowl. This outdoor arena has a capacity of 8,500 and is excellent for live music.

    Around the canal itself, there is a bar called Dukes 92. The name comes from the bar being housed in a converted warehouse next to the 92nd lock on the Bridgewater Canal. During the summer months, the huge outdoor space is full of Mancunians soaking in the sun with a few cold beers. 

    When visiting Manchester, take a walk around the basin in Castlefield. There, you’ll be sure to find some great photo opportunities and excellent people-watching.

    The beer garden of Dukes 92 on a sunny day

    How to Get to Castlefield in Manchester

    Castlefield is straightforward to find once you’re in Manchester. You can get the tram to the Deansgate – Castlefield stop and then make the 1-minute walk to get there. 

    It doesn’t get much more convenient than that!

    If you’d like to explore Manchester in a unique way, come and join one of our food tours at Manchester Bites. We love to tell the tales of the communities that built this great city. And, of course, we taste some of our favourite dishes along the way. If you have any questions about our tours or about Manchester, feel free to get in touch!

    This article was originally written in August 2020 and updated in February 2022.

    The beer garden of Dukes 92 on a sunny day