Before leaving the UK we lived in Manchester, the gay capital of the North, for 10 years and absolutely loved this city we came to call home.
Manchester has been named amongst the Top 10 most exciting cities in the world, according to a recent poll by Time Out and is an incredibly gay friendly city.
Manchester has been one of the top gay destinations in the UK for a long time. It has one of the UK’s largest gay prides and one of the best gay scenes (Canal Street).
Here is our mini guide to the best gay bars in Manchester (and gay clubs).
Also check out our Complete Gay Travel Guide to Manchester.
The Gay Village Manchester
One of the things we love the most about Manchester and why it is one of the best gay cities in the UK is Manchester’s Gay Village.
Manchesters Gay Village is made up of Canal Street and a few surrounding streets. This is in the very centre of the city, minutes away from the main train station (Manchester Piccadilly).
Canal Street is full of gay bars from the start to the very end of the street.
We love the fact that everything is so close together and that you can easily do a bar crawl and not have to travel or get taxis between bars like you need to in some other cities.
Read on for the best gay bars in Manchester:
Manchester Gay Bars and Clubs
Whilst there are over 20 gay bars in Manchester on and around Canal Street, here is our list of the best gay bars and clubs which you won’t want to miss.
Every time we have been to G-A-Y we have had the best night. The music varies on each floor but you can always guarantee the best of pop, 90’s and current chart toppers will be played somewhere (which we love).
Drinks are reasonably priced here too and the crowd is typically quite young and trendy.
G-A-Y is also great for going to watch stage shows such as ‘Porn Idol’ where guys and girls will have to come out and dance (make a fool of themselves) to the crowd to win a cash prize! We have never entered ourselves but always try to encourage our friends to get involved!
This is the cheapest bar in the Gay Village. It gets a little bit dirty but we love it.
This is always packed and for good reason. It has a couple of floors, is open very late and has a real mix of music.
Expect to be hearing very current music, along with the Steps medley thrown in somewhere throughout the night.
This is the biggest gay club in Manchester and has been going for over 20 years.
Like many other places, it has different levels for different musical tastes and is open until the early hours of the morning. Most people will not arrive here until 1am after they have finished at G-A-Y.
At Cruz, they often put on stage shows, competitions and performances to get the night started.
KIKI – Now closed but watch this space!
Kiki was at the very top of Canal Street and naturally became one of the first places we went to. This attracted a very young trendy crowd and is always busy.
As it stands, Kiki is now closed and has been bought by Stonegate and refurbished into The Brewers – watch this space!
Other Gay Bars in Manchester for every taste…
There are so many more bars we could mention, bars for every interest.
Churchills, Eagle and The Rembrandt attract a more mature crowd, in particular catering to bears, fetish nights etc.
There is just one place left dedicated to the Lesbian crowd and that is Vanilla. One of our friends Ellie often tries to take us there but we always mysteriously ended up in G-A-Y……
If you are looking for something more upscale, we suggest heading to Velvet for cocktails. We love the Glitterbomb cocktail because glitter just makes everything look better, especially during pride.
Where to eat in Manchester’s Gay Village?
Velvet has a bar upstairs and a restaurant downstairs. This is a relatively high end place if you are looking for a sit down three course meal with wine. We love the menu here as it’s a real mix of styles and flavours from all over the world.
This place is one of the nicer bars and offers typical bar/pub food. Head here on Sunday for your Sunday lunch.
Some people will laugh that we have mentioned this place, but at the end of the night we can almost guarantee that you, and half of Canal St will end up here.
It’s a much cheaper version of KFC selling chicken, chips, pizzas, garlic bread etc. Everything you crave after a long day and night of partying. You will probably see it during the day and swear you won’t go, but we are fairly sure you will!
Where to eat nearby the Gay Village?
We absolutely love tapas/small plate style restaurants so that we can try as many dishes as possible.
The Refuge offers a diverse menu of incredibly tasty small plates, a creative cocktails menu and if you have rooms, some decadent deserts to finish.
The restaurant itself is very stylish (worth getting dressed up for!) and has a beautiful indoor garden area.
Take a look and reserve here.
This is one of the newer restaurants in Manchester right next to Manchester Victoria train station. We enjoyed a sharing a hearty Sunday lunch platter here which was very welcome after going out the night before.
The restaurant also had a full a la carte menu for the evening.
Take a look and book here.
Where to stay?
We have lived in Manchester for a long time but recently stayed at the following hotel:
DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester
Hilton have done so much work globally for the LGBTQ+ community, making them a brand we stand behind.
When it comes to Manchester, DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester sits just a 5 minute walk from the main train station (Manchester Piccadilly) and a mere 2-minute walk into the gay village – ideal!
The service, breakfast and everything about the hotel is exactly as you would expect from the Hilton brand and you are sure to receive a warm welcome (and warm cookie!) on arrival.
If you want style, character and to be wowed make sure to check out the 5* Kimpton Clocktower.
As a brand, Kimpton have always been committed allies to the LGBTQ+ community and this was particularly evident when we spoke with the General Manager on site.
The rooms (especially the Heritage Suite) are stunning, grand and have many thoughtful local touches – you won’t be disappointed.
Hotel Indigo is right outside Manchester Victoria train station and within walking distance to the city centre (and the gay village).
The rooms are beautifully and stylishly decorated with plenty of space and all the amenities you could need for a weekend away. We particularly loved the bed which we did not want to leave!
Check rates and book your stay here.
We love Manchester and can’t wait for our next night out. It might be the gay capital of the North, but for us it’s the gay capital of the UK.
We hope to see you there!
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