Whether you’re out to impress, or looking for the ultimate mates date – we’ve got you.
It may have been a flirty look across a bar, a heart-fluttering swipe right, a screw-your-ex-lets-hit-the-town declaration or a whirlwind Nora-Ephron-style romance; whatever the reason, a date is on the cards. Now comes the tricky part: what exactly are you going to do? For one thing, you’ve picked a good time of year. From the fresh sense of ‘new beginnings’ that comes with the season to the welcome excuse to cuddle up because “it’s cold” – we’re perfectly prepped with fun activities to take on with your nearest and dearest this Autumn.
1. Stroll hand-in-hand around Heaton Park
Heaton Park is one of Manchester’s best green spaces all year round, but in Autumn, it has a particular charm to it. Not only is there the annual Bonfire Night event which is a permanent fixture in its calendar, but you’ll also find squirrels scampering around, with stunning auburn trees surrounding. It’s very picturesque for a romantic stroll.
2. Enjoy a romantic cinema screening at the Everyman
Looking to escape the autumn chill? Everyman Cinema’s doors are open, and they have a fantastic line-up in store this season. You’ll be able to kick back with comfy surrounds to the newest Bond flick No Time To Die, be swept away by the epic scale of Denis Villenueve’s Dune and get your Marvel fix with the star-studded Eternals. If you prefer to take a more nostalgic route, there are also a number of classics to enjoy – all while enjoying Everyman’s fantastic menu (which is served right to your private sofa in the screening room) and bar offerings. Everyman, ABC Buildings, 23 Quay St, M3 4AS.
3. Take in a Candlelight Jazz concert under the wings of a Concorde
Nothing says romance quite like a candlelight setting, and coming just in time for Autumn is Fever’s much-loved Candlelight series. Enjoy an evening in honour of legends such as Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, soaking in the melodies of beautiful jazz under the sleek wings of a Concorde – all while bathed in candlelight with a glass of prosecco in hand. Find out more and book here.
4. Glide around an ice rink together
The perfect excuse to hold hands with your date – every year Manchester is blessed with a number of ice rinks, all dotted around the city centre and MediaCityUK. The rinks usually hit town early November, so keep your eyes peeled for announcements this Autumn. One in particular – Skate Manchester at Cathedral Gardens – is embracing the spooky side of the season with a special Halloween-themed Scare Skate. If you’re one to jump sky high, make sure you stick close to your date, as there will be monsters roaming the ice.
5. Sip some toasty brews at the Manchester Coffee Festival
If you’re both a sucker for a cockle-warming caffeine fix then the Manchester Coffee Festival is the stuff of dreams. Luring in coffee-lovers with enlightening tastings, free samples, live music and even the gripping finals of national coffee competitions, this is the ideal date for self-professed coffee connoisseurs. Just follow the rich, caramelised aromas floating from the doors of Bowlers Exhibition Centre on November 6th and 7th.
6. See Fletcher Moss in all of its Autumnal glory
Another fabulous green spot – this time in South Manchester, Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden is beautiful all year round. And while it’s extra pretty in full bloom over the summer, the Autumnal shades in October and beyond make for a lovely little walk.
7. Adventure through the fantastical wilderness of the Forbidden Forest
In the mood for some magic? Harry Potter fans can step into the pages of the infamous novel; putting themselves in the invisibility cloak of the boy wizard himself as they wander along a forest trail in Cheshire punctuated with ethereal lights. Stick close to your companion and keep your eyes peeled for mystical creatures such as Hippogriffs or Centaurs along the away. Make sure to pack your camera to immortalise the moments – from conjuring your own patronus and capturing the glittering eyes hidden in the shadows to clutching a toasty hot chocolate at the end of the experience. Grab tickets here.
8. Pick your own pumpkins and carve something special together
Getting into the Halloween spirit? There’s nothing more wholesome than picking your own pumpkin to later carve, and thanks to Dunham Pumpkin Patch, you can feel a little grown-up while doing it. The farm serves its own wood-fired pizza (which is absolutely delicious) and you can also enjoy their very own cider, which is made from the apples which fall in the Orchard by their pumpkin patch.
9. Enjoy cocktails on a cosy, heated terrace
Fancy a cosy cocktail? We know just the place. Decked out with outdoor heaters, thick blankets and all-pink decor – Sunset by Australasia serves up Asian-inspired cocktails that are great for both dates and girl’s nights, with a lengthy menu featuring a little something for everyone. If you fancy a little grub, too, guests can also enjoy sushi and Asian fusion dishes. Sunset by Australasia, 1 The Avenue, M3 3AP.
10. Listen to the Best of Bond by candlelight
Now that Bond is back on the big screen you may both be emerging, bleary-eyed, from a movie marathon of all the 007 classics and on the hunt for more Bond-themed goodness. This enchanting evening can satisfy that craving; promising the best of Bond with a series of live music performances, bathed in flickering candlelight. Over the course of 65 minutes you’ll hear classic soundtracks from the films, including ‘Skyfall’, ‘The Writings on the Wall’ and ‘Live and Let Die’. Find tickets here.
11. Take a stroll around the Makers Market
Pick up some locally made bakes, purchase some homemade art or simply browse the lovely little stalls that make up the monthly Makers Market – which can be found at both Stevenson Square and the Great Northern on a monthly basis. The market at the Northern Quarter is open on the second Sunday of every month, with the Great Northern market taking place on the first Sunday of every month.
12. Escape to a bolthole in the Saddleworth woodlands
A gorgeous bolthole tucked away just outside of Manchester, there’s no better local escape to hide away with your one and only. The cabin boasts incredible views of the nearby Saddleworth Hills, and there’s even a chiminea and a BBQ on the private decking to enjoy on Autumn evenings. The wholesome getaway is near to the village of Diggle, with the Peak District close by to explore too.
13. Cuddle up with a scary movie on Netflix
If you’re trying to find an excuse for a cheeky cuddle – here it is. Netflix has officially released its Halloween slate for 2021 – with a number of spooky films and TV shows to watch in the run up to Halloween. Freak yourself out with Midnight Mass ( From the brains behind The Haunting of Hill House), follow the shudder-inducing exploits of Joe Goldberg with another series of hit show You, or spook yourself silly with a classic such as Halloween .
14. Unleash your competitive side at tenpin bowling
Tenpin Bowling has arrived in Manchester, and it’s the perfect place to go head-to-head with your date. Compete in a round of bowling, or have a game of shuffleboard or beer pong while knocking back a cocktail or two – before enjoying a bit of grub and a pint at one of their two bars. Tenpin Bowling, The Printworks, 27 Withy Grove, M4 2BS.
15. Face your fears at Scarecity Horror Drive-In
Nothing quite breaks the ice on a first date like a jumping out of your skin together in front of a horror film. Not for the faint-hearted, Scarecity Drive-in plunges you straight in the world of a scare-filled flick, first welcoming you in with haunting tunnel filled with terrifying live actors then parking you in front of a giant screen playing such horror staples such as Evil Dead, Exorcist, The Grudge and Get Out. If you’re hoping to bond over jump-scares and debate over the poor escape attempts of on-screen victims then grab tickets here.
16. Take in the supernatural sights of the city on a Manchester Ghost Tour
With spooky season on our doorstep you might want to get into the Halloween spirit with an eerie adventure. Grab your fellow ghost hunter; this tour of Manchester doubles as an exploration game, taking you to haunting destinations around the city centre. Over the course of 90 minutes you will put your heads together to uncover clues and unlock secret stories that reveal the spine-chilling past of some familiar locations. Leave your maps and GPS at home, all you need is a phone and a thirst for delving into the unknown.
17. Taste the best of Manchester on a delicious food tour
Food is always a safe bet when it comes to a date, but if you’re bored of the standard dinner and drinks you can mix it up a bit on this Manchester food tour. Taking place on the 21st, 22nd 23rd and 30th October, a local guide will showcase the best stomach-rumbling fare of the city. You will leave bellies full, thirst fully quenched and minds brimming with go-to haunts and hidden gems. Even it’s only to flex your newfound knowledge of Manchester’s food scene on future dates, this tour is worth the trip. Get tickets here.
18. Go on a magical wander along a twinkling corridor of light
A series of dazzling art installations will be illuminating Oxford Road this October. An amble along the street will tick all the boxes for a romantic date: a star-studded night sky? Tick. A collection of conversation-sparking pieces crafted by talented artists? Tick. Live poetry and music adding an enchanting soundtrack to your stroll? Double tick. Find out more about this immersive art exhibition here.
19. Soak up nature with a trip to RHS Garden Bridgewater
Breathe in the fresh air and bond over the beauty of nature at this picturesque garden, located in Worseley, Salford. You can swap well-trodden concrete and jam-packed bars for kaleidoscopic flower beds and serpentine streams at this natural haven – a stunning result of a labour of love by garden designers, architects and world-class horticulturists. Find out more about the story behind this romantic setting here.
20. Live out your fairytale fantasies exploring Manchester’s nearby castles
It may be a result of too many Hallmark movies over lockdown, a childhood love of all things Disney or the gilded interiors glimpsed in The Crown, but the curious desire to explore castles never quite goes out of style. You can put yourself in the silk slippers and bejewelled crowns of royalty for the day with a visit to one of the many castles that are found just a short drive from the city. Discover more about the centuries-old sites here.
21. Drink and dine in wonderland at the Mad Hatter’s (Gin &) Tea Party
Take a trip down the rabbit hole and meet some curious characters at this immersive cocktail experience. A perfect excuse to unleash your eccentric side and don your most weird and wonderful garms, this theatrical tea party puts you in the midst of the madness with brilliantly bizarre props and charismatic performers. If tumbling into the pages of famous fiction isn’t enough to tempt your date, there are also a variety of bespoke Beefeater Gin cocktails to sip from the teacups throughout the evening. Find tickets here.
[Featured image: Otto Berkeley]