Of course, here in Manchester we love our music. Just stating the obvious. But we do also have to contain all these wonderful live shows somewhere, and Manchester just keeps gaining more. From intimate and historical venues to huge, contemporary spaces, we’ve got it all – here’s our run-down of the best live music venues in Manchester.
1. Manchester Albert Hall
This magical venue is housed in a former Wesleyan Church, with much if its original features still intact, including some gorgeous stained glass windows, the incredible mezzanine structure, and double height ceilings. These add to the wonderful atmosphere that permeates every gig and live show at the Manchester Albert Hall – long may it continue.
Albert Hall, 27 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR.
2. Manchester Cathedral
A stalwart of Manchester architecture, Manchester Cathedral has proved itself to be much more than a religious building, with incredible Candlelight concerts making it a home, in addition to many more live events. The beautiful cathedral, completed in the 17th Century, is an icon of Manchester’s rich history and an absolute joy to explore, especially with the best tunes playing in the company of mates.
Manchester Cathedral, Victoria St, Manchester M3 1SX.
3. O2 Ritz
A gorgeous art deco gem on Whitworth Street, Manchester’s O2 Ritz has an incredible history when it comes to Manchester music, having been a dancehall since 1927 and retaining its sprung dancefloor for gig-goers to bounce on to this day. Many intimate gigs have been held here and often new artists will choose the prestigious venue to begin their careers, but you can bet you’ll have a wonderful time when you visit the Ritz, whatever the reason.
O2 Ritz, Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5NQ.
4. O2 Apollo
Once an art deco theatre, the O2 Apollo is a Grade II listed live venue that has hosted the likes of Dua Lipa, The 1975 and Damien Rice over the past few years. Revered within the Manchester music scene, the Apollo is a true treasure of live venues and is beloved by many in the city and beyond – definitely a must-visit if given the chance.
O2 Apollo, Stockport Rd, Manchester M12 6AP.
5. AO Arena
Most popular with incredibly famous artists the world over, Manchester Arena is the large capacity, convenient live venue that most think of when gig-going in Manchester. With a 21,000 capacity, the live venue has hosted Elton John, Take That, Harry Styles and so many more legends over the years, surviving countless name changes (although most still call it the MEN). Security has tightened up over the years too, for obvious reasons, so you can feel safe hopping off the train at Victoria and heading up the stairs for a great gig.
AO Arena, Victoria Station Approach, Hunts Bank, Manchester M3 1AR.
Not only do we have and Academy in Manchester, but we have four! Whether you’re gigging at the Academy, Academy 2, Academy 3 or Club Academy, you’re bound to grab a bargain and a great show. Attached to the University of Manchester, all Academies are well-equipped and welcoming to all kinds of artists and audiences, and easily accessible at the University end of Oxford Road. You really can’t go wrong!
Manchester Academy, Manchester University Students Union, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PR.
Hip and happening bar and club YES offers a place to drink and dance all night long, but further offers up their Basement and Pink Room for gigs and club nights regularly. The live venues are great for intimate gigs in Manchester and are often frequented by bigger artists spinning some DJ sets, including IDLES, so you’re never short of a unique ticketed event.
YES, 38 Charles St, Manchester M1 7DB.
8. Deaf Institute
Known for its unique ‘living room’ stage set-up, the Deaf Institute is quite literally set up to be an intimate gig space. So many up-and-coming artists have graced the stage over the years and its club nights are legendary, especially with the student population of Manchester. We think this one’s an underrated gem and we hope it sticks around for a long time.
The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor St, Manchester M1 7HE.
Formerly Soup Kitchen, Soup is a lovely day-to-night venue that houses great intimate gigs in the basement. Again, this live venue is also known for its club nights and provides a unique, pretty hidden location for a really cool gig – it’s definitely one to show off to mates form out of town if you’re touring the Northern Quarter.
Soup, 31-33 Spear St, Manchester M1 1DF.
One of the oldest and best pubs in Manchester, Gullivers is renowned for hosting some of the best gigs in town. The live venue is upstairs with its very own dressing room for musicians, but often people will take the mic in the pub area, entertaining drinkers during a peaceful Sunday visit. Don’t worry, we’re talking lovely background music, not in-your-face jamming sessions, unless that’s what you’re there for.
Gullivers, 109 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LW.
11. Joshua Brooks
Just across from the legendary Factory, Joshua Brooks is a charming pub-club offering craft beers and ales, pies and incredible live gigs in the evenings. Usually DJ-led, the live venue has been going for years and continues to pull in the masses with its amazing vibes and line-ups – one upcoming is a Cafe Mambo club night, bringing the Ibiza vibes to Manchester.
Joshua Brooks, 106 Princess St, Manchester M1 6NG.
12. Hallé St Peter’s
The epicentre of Cutting Room Square in Ancoats, Hallé St Peter’s is home to the Manchester Hallé Symphony Orchestra, as well as even more incredible Candlelight concerts. The Grade II listed church was built in 1859, and is truly grand inside and out, bonding the old and the new with its more contemporary events, keeping the wonderful live venue alive.
Hallé St Peter’s, 40 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6BF.
13. New Century Hall
The newly refurbished New Century Hall isn’t wasting time getting big names into the live venue. Back in the day the hall hosted everyone from Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones to Tina Turner and The Kinks, and is set to host the likes of The Japanese House and The Cinematic Orchestra in the coming months. The historical and unique venue retains its character but functions like new and is truly something to behold.
New Century Hall, 34 Hanover St Manchester M4 4AH.
14. Depot Mayfield
Home to the legendary Warehouse Project, Depot Mayfield is a quintessentially Mancunian live venue, making use of the old Mayfield train station next to Manchester Piccadilly. Many a night out has been had at the depot since its rejuvenation in 2019 and many couldn’t imagine nightlife in Manchester without it. Not only does the depot host club nights, but many kinds of live events, in addition to Freight Island that’s attached to it, providing street food, drinks and screenings.
Depot Mayfield, 11 Baring St, Manchester M1 2PY.
15. Band on the Wall
As well as promoting great live music and producing national tours with international cultural artists, Band on the Wall remains committed to providing opportunities for local communities to get involved in music making and producing accessible digital content to inform and educate people.
The live venue’s unusual name harks back to the building’s days as The George and Dragon pub in the early 20th Century. Regulars would affectionately refer to the ‘Band on the Wall’ as the place where house musicians quite literally played on a stage halfway up the back wall to make room in the busy pub. So why not see the modern venue in all its glory? It’s one of the best live venues in Manchester.
Band on the Wall, 25 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JZ.