Manchester is known for its world-famous football teams (or soccer teams for Americans), a rich cultural heritage, and one of the liveliest LGBTQ+ communities in the UK. Located around Canal Street, the city’s gay village caters to all tastes, including popular bars that range from traditional pubs to intimate clubs. If you’re a traveler planning a trip to Manchester, you should probably take a look at this LGBTQ+ guide for a list of the best neighborhoods, hotels, and events in the city, including a fun transgender celebration!
In the heart of the city’s Gay Village, Richmond Tea Rooms offers a luxurious, Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon tea experience. Expect fabulous floral displays, an enchanted forest-themed room, a cozy Orangery, and a selection of teas from around the world.
Afterward, you may want to consider a stroll through Manchester’s Sackville Park, home to a memorial dedicated to Alan Turing, a gay man and the father of modern computing who carried out his world-defining studies in the city. One must-see place to add to your itinerary is the sculpture that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community’s achievements, located in the park between the University of Manchester and Canal Street.
Out and About
The heart of gay Manchester is Canal Street. One of the oldest, largest, and busiest gay bars on the strip today, Via features exposed brickwork, gold Rococo mirrors, and chandeliers. Sparkly G-A-Y Manchester, the northern cousin of London’s G-A-Y, appeals to a younger, student crowd with pop hits and cheap drinks deals.
A more traditional-style gay pub, The Church (formerly known as Churchills) has regular cabaret and drag shows. Some of the best-loved gay venues are found in the adjacent streets, such as the men-only Eagle Manchester, a large venue that usually attracts a masculine crowd.
Queer womxn and their admirers should consider visiting Vanilla. Open since 1998, the lesbian bar regularly hosts DJs, live acoustic sets, and open mic nights. The popular lesbian magazine, Diva, named Vanilla “UK’s Best Bar” twice!
If you’re looking for an old favorite, stop by Cruz 101, the largest dance club in Manchester’s gay village.
The Velvet Hotel
Keen party animals need to look no further than Velvet Hotel. One of TripAdvisor’s top-ranked hotels in the city, it’s in the middle of the action. It features 16 rooms and three penthouse suites that are individually decorated in an industrial boudoir style, with lavish king-size beds, chandeliers, and exposed brick walls.
The Edwardian Manchester
Built in 1853, Free Trade Hall is a grand colonnaded building revamped as The Edwardian Manchester. There are 263 rooms and suites, two restaurants, a champagne bar, a destination spa, and oodles of contemporary glamour.
A former warehouse located from Canal Street, ABode is a four-star hotel that retains many original Victorian features but gives them a modern British twist. There are 61 bedrooms, including the Fabulous On Fifth suites – five loft-style suites featuring stylish décor including artwork created by renowned artists such as David Hockney and Yoko Ono.
Great British Bear Bash (Last Weekend in April)
The Great British Bear Bash comes to Manchester’s Gay Village with a weekend full of social events including a pool party, cabaret, ‘super-beareoke’, a history of Manchester walking tour, and much more. The group, Man Bears, hosts fun parties and other fun Bear gatherings, such as Pre-Hibernation. Click here to stay updated on upcoming events!
Sparkle Weekend (Second weekend in July)
Britain’s transgender community comes together to celebrate and shine at Manchester’s Sparkle Weekend and Sparkle Ball. This is the world’s largest free-to-attend celebration of gender diversity, welcoming all members of the transgender community as well as friends and families. Since 2005’s one-day inaugural event, it’s expanded into a three-day schedule of culture, music, comedy, film, sport, and debate.
Manchester Pride (Last Weekend in August)
August is when Manchester’s gay village plays host to one of the biggest dates in the gay calendar – Manchester Pride. This fantastic festival spans a number of events, such as Manchester Pride Live, Superbia Weekend, the Gay Village Party, Manchester Pride Parade, Youth Pride MCR, and the Candlelit Vigil.
Manchester is located in northwest England about 208 miles (335 km) north of London. Trains from London Euston depart for Manchester approximately every 20 minutes and take just shy of two-and-a-half hours. Manchester Airport is just over 30 minutes from the city center with flights coming from everywhere around the globe, including Australia, Europe, and North America.
For more travel inspiration and ideas, check out Visit Britain’s website to plan your trip to Manchester. And don’t forget to visit other cities – like London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Glasgow – while you’re in the UK and or Scotland!