We love our pubs, clubs and bars here in Manchester, and we definitely have plenty of them. From chilled weeknights with mates to wild raves going on until the early hours, us Mancs are always up for a laugh, and generally a drink. Now, a study by Public First has revealed that Manchester is in the top 10 UK cities for a good night out – but Salford seems quite the opposite.
The Public First Night Out Index 2023 ranks Manchester at number 10, based on the number of licensed restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs per 10,000 people living across the city. Manchester scored 16.49, with 9.26 restaurants, 6.17 bars and pubs, and 1.06 clubs, per 10,000 people, proving it one of the best places for a night out.
It also seems that Northern towns and cities have seen some of the biggest improvement in night life over the last decade – Leeds, Liverpool and Halifax lead the way with a circa 20% increase in the per capita number of night time establishments.
One caveat with the Night Out Index is its focus on licensed establishments as a measure of the strength of the night time economy. This reflects data limitations, which make it difficult to unpick which unlicensed premises are open in the evening rather than just during daytime (e.g. coffee shops) – some parts of the country may be benefitting from a rise in unlicensed evening establishments catering to changing consumer demands.
Take, for example, the growth in late night dessert parlours or, according to Freedom of Information requests, the more than 500% increase in the number of shisha bars in the UK since the mid 2000s – research from 2018 suggested Manchester has 60 registered shisha cafes.
In a bid to strengthen the night time economy, both London and Manchester have appointed “night czars”. 2018 saw Sacha Lord unveiled as Greater Manchester’s first-ever night-time economy adviser, supported by a night-time economy panel which aims to “develop, discuss and deliver plans to develop the city-region’s nightlife, making it stronger, safer, better-connected, and an even more attractive destination”.
Unfortunately, Salford hasn’t been so well-received in this study, as the ‘other city’ ranked 109 out of 112 towns and cities analysed. Although we think Salford is a great place to spend an evening, the Public First Night Out Index showed that Salford has 2.83 restaurants, 2.83 bars and pubs, and 0.47 clubs per 10,000 people.
Of course, purely looking at the density of venues to spend a night out in a city or town doesn’t prove whether these places are wholly worth a night out or not; in fact, many of the low-rated places are highly rated by locals on criteria such as service, quality and ambience. The Index does however show the areas in which the night time economy is thriving and declining – but we still love Salford.
Salford’s night time establishments have declined by 2.3% in the past decade, but perhaps that just means that the growing population is packing them out more and more!
Needless to say, we recommend a night out in Manchester, whether it be a night at the Warehouse Project or carrying on the party after a great gig, as well as giving Salford some love, visiting the likes of Porta Tapas, Adelphi Lads Club or The Black Friar.