The biggest bank holiday of the year is upon us – and there’s so much to do. From boozy brunches to an array of festivals, here’s our guide to the best things to do in Manchester this August Bank Holiday weekend. Read on for a bit of inspiration…
1. Sit back with a film and enjoy the Miami Beach experience at Backyard Cinema
Head to the rooftop of Depot Mayfield for Backyard Cinema where you’ll be transported to an 80’s beach oasis in the sky and ultimate film screening space. As well as the immersive sets and unique venue, there’s a line-up of special nights to look forward to this August bank holiday weekend. Enjoy beachy bliss alongside watching the likes of new releases Barbie and Little Mermaid, as well as a Dirty Dancing Beach Party.
2. Head to The Oast House’s outdoor terrace for this free music festival
Following its success over the past bank holidays, Spinningfields bar The Oast House is bringing its brand-new music festival Manifest back to the city this August bank holiday weekend for its final summer instalment with a jam-packed line-up. Taking place on the large outdoor terrace at The Oast House on August 27, complete with a dedicated stage, Manifest will run from 1pm in the afternoon until late, with a packed roster of musicians lined up including bands, solo artists and duos taking to the stage throughout the day with interludes from resident DJs. Attendees can expect a party atmosphere all night and sounds of rock, pop, soul, R&B, funk, disco and blues.
3. Celebrate 100 years of Warner Bros. Studios’ storytelling at this Candlelight concert
This 2023, Warner Bros. celebrates 100 years of storytelling. And to celebrate their 100th anniversary, the most iconic songs from the Studios’ most beloved series and filmswill be brought to life a unique —and once-in-a-lifetime— candlelit concert. Take note because on August 25, Manchester Cathedral will be filled with thousands of candles as a magnificent string quartet plays some of the most iconic soundtracks of Warner Bros. films and series.
4. Celebrate the city’s LGBTQ+ community at Manchester Pride
The city’s key event over the August Bank Holiday, Manchester Pride is back with a bang for 2023. Mancs can expect huge parties and shows over the long weekend, including hilarious drag shows, bustling dancefloors, and of course, the big Gay Village Party itself.
5. Enjoy cocktails behind bars at Alcotraz
Alcotraz is as unique as they come, with guests escorted to their very own prison cell in an orange jumpsuit during the experience. Drink cocktails made with ‘smuggled-in contraband’, hide from the cellblock’s parading warden, and enjoy the theatrics before checking out the prison-themed canteen.
6. Visit the Trafford Centre’s retro beach and fairground
Popping up for the summer outside of the food court at the Trafford Centre, visitors can escape to the ‘beach’, which is accompanied by a fun, retro fairground and a splash park, too. Providing a little something for Mancs of all ages, guests can expect tons of live music and entertainment, a nostalgic array of rides on-site, including The Star Flyer, Log Flume, Apple Coaster and Cruise Ship, and summery cocktails at the bar.
7. Get down at the R&B Brunch with bottomless rum punch
Kicking off the bank holiday weekend in style on Saturday 26th August, Manchester Bierkeller is hosting a seriously fun five-hour brunch special, bring both current and old skool R&B tunes, plenty of dancing, bottomless rum punch, and optional street food, too. Rum punch will flow freely for 60 minutes, and guests are free to stick around afterwards for the bank holiday vibes.
8. Watch an absolute classic under the stars at Tatton Park’s Luna Cinema
The Luna Cinema will once again be taking over iconic venues up and down the country including Tatton Park for another summer of cinema under the stars. Screenings at Tatton Park start on August 25 with a showing of Top Gun: Maverick starring Tom Cruise. This is followed by Mamma Mia on August 26 then Pretty Woman on August 27. Then last but not least for the August Bank Holiday offerings is The Great Gatsby, based on Fitzgerald’s novel, on August 28.
9. Stuff yourself silly with Italian grub at Festa Italiana
Manchester’s favourite Italian food festival is back for another year, taking over Cathedral Gardens with an impressive array of local traders. Free to attend, guests can enjoy authentic Italian food from The Pasta Factory, Cafe Cannoli, I Knead Pizza, Proove Pizza, Purezza, Salvi’s, T’arricrii, Prendi Il Biscotto, Grandpa Greene’s and many more, with beers from Poretti, ticketed banquets led by talented chefs, an Aperol Spritz bar and more in store.
10. Try out tasty cheese at The Manchester Cheese Crawl
Hosting two sessions on August 26, The Manchester Cheese Crawl will be touring around the city to show off the best cheeses Manchester has on offer – with plenty of cheese to sample along the way. Exploring the city for around two hours, guests will be able to enjoy an array of cheeses and wines while learning all about it, making for the perfect way to brush up on your knowledge to impress your mates with.
11. Go for cocktails at one of these gorgeous bars
Whether you have a date night in-store or a night out with the squad, Manchester is packed full of incredible cocktail bars offering a vibe for every occasion. Whether it’s pretty-in-pink décor and Instagrammable cocktails you’re after, or laid-back opulence, there are plenty of spots in town for cocktails over the bank holiday weekend. Cheers to the long weekend!
12. Head to this eco-friendly farm in Stockport for an epic weekend of live music
Moovin is one of the most sustainable music festivals in Manchester, aiming to achieve carbon neutrality. They say: “For the last few years, zero waste from the festival has gone to landfill, it goes to the tip, gets sorted into recycling as much as possible by a machine, and then the rest gets taken to a place where it is incinerated to produce energy and electricity.” Of course, it’s first and foremost a music festival, and the growing list of local and acclaimed artists is pretty impressive for the little farm. The likes of Groove Armada and Todd Terry are headlining Moovin Festival this year, ensuring a day full of dancing and fun for all the family.
13. Chow down on tasty grub at the Bolton Food & Drink Festival
The Bolton Food & Drink Festival will take place over the entire bank holiday weekend, starting on August 25 and ending on the following Monday. Visitors can expect a weekend packed full of food, drink, entertainment and more, with tons of local food traders on the roster, a fantastic market and a live music stage. Plus, a Fawlty Towers dining experience where you can be served by Basil, Sybil, and Manuel will also take place over the festival weekend.
14. Catch the vibrant Colors Festival before it leaves the city
Colors Festival, the stunning celebration of the best of street art in Manchester, is almost coming to an end, so if you’re after a dose of culture and a pop of colour the August bank holiday is the best time to visit. The family friendly experience is a delight for all and takes over a giant repurposed space that spans 800m² and is filled with larger than life artwork. The experience has taken over Regent Retail Park in Salford and showcases the works of 30 established and local artists on a huge scale.
15. Make a splash by giving paddleboarding a try
Before the weather takes a turn for the worst (not that we’ve had the driest of summers), why not get yourself on the water and give paddleboarding a go? See the city of Manchester and the beautiful landscapes nearby in a whole new way by drifting along the water with a spot of paddleboarding. Greater Manchester has plenty of tranquil spots for stand-up paddleboarding, so go on, grab your wetsuit, make a splash and challenge yourself in a fun, new way.
16. Listen to local and upcoming musical talent at Den Fest
Den Fest, a free, three-day music festival, returns to Lions Den at Great Northern Warehouse for its fourth year, in conjunction with District Records and Manchester One Media. Festival-goers can expect live music performances from a stellar line-up of Manchester’s grassroots rising talent, whilst soaking up the sun on Manchester’s bustling ‘hidden street’ filled with independent bars, eateries and shops – Deansgate Mews. The outdoor festival (with open-air stage) will showcase over 20 different bands and artists across the bank holiday weekend, with exclusive headline performances from local Stockport band, The Maddocks, Liverpool band, RIVIA, and a performance from a very special guest headliner.
17. Tuck into tasty Mexican food at Madre’s burrito shack
18. Indulge in the most pawfect afternoon tea with your pooch at INNSiDE Manchester
This bank holiday hotel INNSiDE Manchester has announced it will be hosting a dog-friendly afternoon tea on August 27 at its modern restaurant First Street Bar & Kitchen. In partnership with pooch bakery, Lola’s Little Bakery, the restaurant will be offering a decadent afternoon tea seating for humans and their four legged friends. Serving two adults and one pooch, the pawfect afternoon tea includes a complimentary glass of fizz for each guest, an indulgent Italian-inspired afternoon tea plus special sweet treats for very important pooches (VIPs).
19. Have a ball at the ‘Crown Jewels of Bowling’, King Pins
King Pins’ full-service bar serves a huge selection of bottled and draught beers including beer from local Salford brewery, Seven Bro7hers, alongside a large variety of cocktails, alcohol-free options and homemade slushies – crowning King Pins as the place to score a perfect strike, with a drink in hand, all to a playlist of great tunes. It also features two independent food concessions – PLY, the iconic Manchester pizza pros, and Asian street food favourites Little Bao Boy, as well as its very own dessert kiosk, Royal Treats, making it the best destination for a day of family fun or mates dates this bank holiday.