Ready to let your hair down after a long week at work? Manchester is ready and waiting for us. Some of the city’s most talented performers are taking to the stage for our entertainment – from secret Jazz speakeasies to some of the coolest rock n roll venues in the city. Here’s our guide to the best bars to try if you fancy a bit of live music and entertainment in your life.
1. The Blues Kitchen
Opening in Manchester just last year, The Blues Kitchen serves up bourbon and BBQ with a side of blues and jazz. Consisting of a New Orleans-style bar and restaurant and a fantastic concert hall, The Blues Kitchen is the place for live music lovers – with plenty of shows booked in for the coming months. The programme features not only special sets taking place in the concert hall, but a number of bar-side shows where guests can enjoy beautiful blues, jazz, soul and rock and roll while tucking into their menu of tasty BBQ grub. The Blues Kitchen, 13 Quay St, M3 3HN.
2. Escape to Freight Island
One of the biggest new openings in the last few years, Escape to Freight Island has become quite the hotspot in the city, combining street food with weekly live music and entertainment programmes. Currently, the venue has a jam-packed schedule planned all the way up to the end of March. Elsewhere at the venue, guests can also enjoy NYC-style pizza, juicy burgers, BBQ, wine and craft beers – with both indoor and outdoor traders to try. Escape to Freight Island, 11 Baring St, M1 2PZ.
3. Albert’s Schloss
Albert’s Schloss’ weekly schedule of live music and entertainment is perfect for escaping the world for a while. We’re talking Sunday roasts with a side of jazz, duelling piano nights, a fun haus band, drag queens, and Schloss’ famous promenaders keeping the party going. The Cook Haus is also serving up their tasty menu of Alpine-inspired dishes, with plenty of cocktails and biers on offer at the bar. Albert’s Schloss, 27 Peter St, M2 5QR.
Opening just last year, Habas is the latest venture by Simon Shaw – the man behind El Gato Negro and Canto. Serving up a delicious menu of Middle Eastern grub and cocktails, the venue also offers up a roster of live music, too, with a dedicated live music lounge within the space. Habas, 43A Brown St, M2 2JJ.
5. One Eight Six
One of Manchester’s best hidden bars, One Eight Six is tucked away behind a mirrored door underneath a barbers shop, boasting a luxe, low-lit atmosphere complemented by cocktails and live music. Jazz bands regularly take to the stage here, making it the perfect, sophisticated speakeasy for post-work drinks and entertainment. On the menu, you’ll find Insta-worthy cocktails and perfect gin serves, and a fantastic array of global wines. One Eight Six, 186 Deansgate, M3 3WB (temporarily closed).
One of the most popular live music venues in the city, YES is ideally situated near the student district of Manchester, with a calendar packed full of gigs for the entire summer. There’s a whole array of genres in store, too, including rock n roll, live DJs and even an ABBA event – with a casual bar downstairs serving pizza from Pepperoni Playboy and vegan doner kebabs from Doner Summer. YES, 38 Charles Street, M1 7DB.
7. Bunny Jackson’s
Known for its 20p wings, Bunny Jackson’s is one of the city’s favourite late-night destinations – with wings, dogs, live music and American sports on the menu. Keep in the loop with all the shenanigans over on their Instagram here. Bunny Jackson’s, 1 Jack Rosenthal St, M15 4RA.
8. The Fitzgerald
A speakeasy-style cocktail bar tucked away down a Northern Quarter back alley, The Fitzgerald is one of our favourite little secrets here at Secret Manchester, thanks to the prohibition-inspired escapism it provides from busy Stevenson Square. Boasting vintage decor, classic cocktails, and a live music roster packed full of jazz, soul, disco and funk, it’s the perfect spot for a date night embellished with beautiful music and a romantic atmosphere. The Fitzgerald, 11 Stevenson Square, M1 1DB.
9. Night & Day
A little gem on Oldham Street, Night & Day Cafe is the ideal destination for rock and indie fans – with local and international bands and DJs frequently taking to the stage. Eclectically decorated with a bar at the front and dance floor at the back, the bar is already back in action with a number of confirmed shows taking place over the summer and beyond – with the likes of Tim Burgess, Elbow and many more previously on the roster. Night & Day Cafe, 26 Oldham St, M1 1JN.