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Food & Drink Secret Guides

10 Of The Liveliest Bars For Live Entertainment And Music Right Here In Manchester

By Laura Rogan

Live music is back!

Ready to un-pause life after a year of sitting on our backsides? Manchester is ready and waiting for us. Indoor hospitality is back with a bang – and live music has finally returned after a year out of business, with some of Manchester’s most talented performers taking to the stage at long last in celebration. From secret Jazz speakeasys 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

Credit: The Blues Kitchen

Brand new to Manchester, The Blues Kitchen is finally here – serving 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 shows booked in for the coming months already. The programme features not only special sets taking place in the concert hall, but a number of bar-side sets 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

Credit: Escape to Freight Island

Opening just last summer, 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 July, with DJ Paulette, The Untold Orchestra, the Manchester Jazz Festival and so much more in store for guests. 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

Credit: Albert’s Schloss/JK Photography

Albert’s Schloss is back – and returning with it is their fantastic weekly schedule of live music and entertainment. We’re talking Sunday roasts with a side of gospel, duelling piano nights, a fun haus band, drag queens, and Schloss’ famous promenaders keeping the party going. The Cook Haus is also back serving up their tasty menu of Alpine-inspired dishes, with plenty of summer cocktails and biers on offer at the bar. Albert’s Schloss, 27 Peter St, M2 5QR.

4. Habas

Credit: Habas

Opening next month in Manchester, 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 will also offer up a roster of live music, too, with a dedicated live music lounge within the space. Further details are yet to be revealed, however, you can book a table now here. Habas, 43A Brown St, M2 2JJ.

5. Jimmys

Credit: Jimmys

Formerly taking up residence in the Northern Quarter, Jimmys is set to make a major comeback in Ancoats soon, although, it’s not currently known if they’ll be bringing back their live music arm. They will, however, be providing their usual, fantastic rock n’ roll atmosphere, as well as brunch, burgers, proper good beers and so much more. Stay tuned for updates. 

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6. One Eight Six

Credit: 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.

7. YES

Credit: YES

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.

8. Bunny Jackson’s

Credit: 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. There’s currently no word on when the bar will be running live music again, but you can keep in the loop with all the shenanigans over on their Instagram here. Bunny Jackson’s, 1 Jack Rosenthal St, M15 4RA.

9. The Fitzgerald

Credit: 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.

10. Night & Day

Credit: Night & Day Cafe

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 on the roster. Night & Day Cafe, 26 Oldham St, M1 1JN.

Read more: 14 Of The Best New Restaurants To Try This May In Manchester