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The Ultimate Travel Guide to Canal Street Manchester

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Canal Street Manchester

Welcome to Canal Street, the pulsating heart of Manchester’s LGBTQ+ community and a hub for nightlife enthusiasts! Many people all over the globe know of this place—and for good reason!

Canal Street in Manchester is famous for its lively atmosphere and variety of bars. It’s a must-visit for experiencing Manchester’s unique culture. 

The street boasts over 40 bars, offering plenty of options for a great night out with friends. And all these venues are within a hundred metres from the street corner for your convenience. 

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, our ultimate Canal Street Manchester travel guide has got you covered. From its rich history to essential tips for navigating the area, we’ve got all the information you need to make the most of your time here.

All About Canal Street 

Canal Street is over 200 years old where its roots can be traced back to the construction of the Rochdale Canal in 1804. Initially, it was a trade artery running through Manchester, with pubs and businesses sprouting up to service canal users.

But the area didn’t become synonymous with the LGBTQ+ community until the 20th century. By the 1950s, the canal’s significance had waned due to the rise of other forms of transport, and the area transformed into a red-light district at night.

The 1980s were a tumultuous period for Canal Street. Greater Manchester’s Chief Constable, James Anderton, was openly hostile towards the gay community, leading to increased police scrutiny. 

However, the opening of Manto in 1990 marked a turning point. This bar, with its large plate glass windows, was a bold statement of visibility for the gay community.

In the 1990s, Manchester City Council officially recognised the area, leading to significant community development. 

The Village has been a battleground for gay rights, especially during the enactment of Section 28 in 1988. Over the years, Canal Street has evolved into the centre of Europe’s most successful gay village, a transformation immortalised in popular culture through TV series like ‘Queer as Folk’.

Best Time to Go

To have the best time in a chill atmosphere in Canal Street, consider visiting on weekdays between 5 PM and 8 PM when many bars offer happy hour specials. 

Also, the area is busiest on weekends, especially Friday and Saturday nights when the nightlife is in full swing. Manchester Pride, typically held on the August Bank Holiday weekend, is another peak time, turning the street into a vibrant epicentre of celebration. 

When it comes to the season, the summer months from June to September offer pleasant weather and outdoor seating options. If you prefer a quieter experience, the winter months provide a cosy escape with fewer crowds— but we usually recommend the former.

How to Get There 

Train: The nearest train station to Canal Street is Manchester Piccadilly. You can take a taxi to Deansgate and then catch a train to Manchester Piccadilly. From there, Canal Street is within walking distance.

Bus: There is no direct bus service mentioned for reaching Canal Street. However, Manchester has a well-connected bus network, so you can easily find a route that gets you close to the area.

Taxi: A taxi from Greater Manchester to Canal Street would cost around $10-$13 and takes approximately 7 minutes. This is both the cheapest and quickest way to get there.

Car Service: You can easily book an Uber or Lyft to Canal Street from anywhere in Manchester. 

What to Wear When Visiting Canal Street 

If you’re going to Canal Street for an excursion, wear loose and light clothing so your look will match its colourful and vibrant energy. Going out clubbing wearing the most exciting colours also helps make you stand out— especially when it’s the season to be in the street itself. 

Annual Events at the Canal Street 

When: August.

The crown jewel of Manchester’s LGBT+ calendar, Manchester Pride is an annual extravaganza you won’t want to miss. 

Held every August, this year’s festivities run from Friday to Monday, offering a long weekend of pure joy. 

The Gay Village is the epicentre of the celebration, hosting a Village party that promises endless entertainment. MCR Pride Live steals the show on Saturday and Sunday, featuring headline acts that have included the likes of Annie Mac and Zara Larsson. 

This Superbia Weekend is a cultural feast, showcasing LGBTQ+ talent in music, dance, film, and more. And let’s not forget Youth Pride, Family Pride, and the Human Rights Forum, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

When: July

Sparkle is the weekend where the local trans community shines. Taking place every July in Sackville Gardens, this free event is a family-friendly celebration complete with stalls, music, and DJs. 

What’s great is the venue for said event occurs nearby clubs which is the perfect reason to bar hop once the event ends! Don’t forget to make a donation to the Sparkle charity while you’re there; it’s for a good cause!

When: The specific month can vary, but it’s usually during February. 

As the UK’s premier gathering for the bear community, this four-day extravaganza is more than just a party—it’s a celebration of diversity and camaraderie. 

From pulsating club nights to laid-back social events, and let’s not forget the mouth-watering food, this event has it all. Whether you identify as a bear, cub, chub, otter, pup, or even a chaser, you’ll find your tribe here. 

And it’s not just a local affair; this bash draws in a crowd from all corners of Canal Street and beyond. So, mark your calendars, because this is one event you won’t want to miss!

When: The month can vary but it’s predominantly a ‘ber’ month occasion.

If rubber is your thing, then you’re in for a treat. The Manchester Rubber Weekend is a non-profit event that brings together rubber enthusiasts from all over the world. It’s often described as ‘the friendliest fetish scene out there’.

The event typically hosts four main club nights and includes a fetish market, an art exhibition, and even some charity fundraising activities.

Things to Do at Canal Street 

Address: Whitworth St, Sackville St, Manchester M1 3WA, United Kingdom

Contact Details: N/A

Website: N//A

Operating Hours: 24/7

Canal Street is a place that’s not particularly known for its abundance of green spaces. However, Sackville Gardens stands as a serene oasis. 

But this isn’t just your run of the mill park; it’s a living tribute to Alan Turing, the ‘father of modern computing’. The memorial depicts the maths genius with an apple that strikes an iconic pose. 

If you know your history as much as we do, Turing wasn’t just a brilliant mathematician and a key figure at the University of Manchester. He was also a wartime hero whose contributions are believed to have saved 14 million lives during World War II.

The memorial in Sackville Gardens captures Turing holding an apple, a poignant symbol that serves a dual purpose. What makes Turing much more meaningful in Canal Street was he was also a homosexual who stood for the gay rights back in the day. 

Unfortunately, he was prosecuted for being a homosexual and faced legal battles until his untimely death at 41. 

That’s why his statue is not only a nod to forbidden love but also an homage to the tree of knowledge, encapsulating Turing’s groundbreaking contributions to science and his significance to Manchester’s vibrant LGBT community.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to get the most out of your visit to Sackville Gardens, go around 11 am. The park hosts a daily free tour of Manchester that starts by the Alan Turing Memorial. It’s a great way to learn more about the city and the significance of the park while enjoying its peaceful atmosphere.

Address: 63 Richmond St, Manchester M1 3WB, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441612286200

Website: https://www.facebook.com/GAYManchester/

Operating Hours: Daily 12 PM to 4 AM

Let’s dive into the vibrant world of G-A-Y, a cornerstone of Canal Street’s bustling nightlife. This club is a magnet for a youthful crowd eager for pop anthems, budget-friendly drinks, and an electric vibe. 

Plus, it boasts a rooftop terrace for those who want to take the party to new heights.

A northern sibling to its renowned London counterpart, G-A-Y Manchester keeps the party going until the wee hours. 

But heads up—some nights are members-only. So, if you’re planning a visit, it’s worth checking their Facebook events page. Membership not only gets you through the door but also grants you free entry to both the Manchester and London venues. Talk about a deal!

The club is a haven for pop culture aficionados. Whether it’s an aftershow party featuring the likes of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift or a weekend-long tribute to pop legends, G-A-Y has got you covered. 

And if that’s not your jam, they also host bingo nights, cabaret shows, traffic-light parties, and even singing competitions. The choice is yours!

Thirsty for some heavy beverages? The drinks menu won’t disappoint. From whimsically named cocktails like Snow Plough and Thunder & Lightning to the classic Deep Puddle, your taste buds are in for a treat.

Pro Tip: If you’re a pop music fan, keep an eye on their events calendar. G-A-Y often hosts themed weekends dedicated to pop icons via a drag race party, offering a unique experience you won’t want to miss— whether you’re straight or gay!

Address: 10 Canal St, Manchester M1 3EZ, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441612360446

Website: http://www.barpop.co.uk/

Operating Hours: Monday to Thursday 3 PM to 3 AM; Friday 3 PM to 4 AM; Sunday 12 to 3 AM

Step into Bar Pop, a kaleidoscope of genres and vibes that is often called by its fans as an ‘IndieDiscoElectroHomoMadHiphopBritPopFunkyKindaShagtasticQueerThing’. 

Nestled in the heart of Canal Street, this venue is a sanctuary for those seeking a friendly atmosphere and top-notch drag performances.

As the home of Poptastic, Manchester’s longest-standing weekly alternative club night, Bar Pop knows how to keep the party going. 

But the fun doesn’t stop there. The venue’s event calendar is a smorgasbord of entertainment, from karaoke nights to drag cabaret and even the occasional Kennel Klub gathering.

If you find yourself strapped for cash but still itching for a night out, make your way to Bar Pop’s ‘Skint Mondays’. With drinks priced at just a quid and a playlist that’s a mix of pop and dance, you’re guaranteed a fantastic time without breaking the bank.

Pro Tip: In Canal Street, there’s no shortage of drag parties! If you’re a fan of alternative music and drag, keep an eye out for special events at Bar Pop. Their diverse entertainment lineup and song choices that span from ‘Smooth Operator’ to the ‘YMCA’ will get your dancing shoes on!

Address: 37 Chorlton St., Manchester M1 3HN, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441612365529

Website: https://twitter.com/ChurchillsManc1

Operating Hours: Monday to Thursday 3 PM to 4 AM; Friday to Saturday 12 PM to 4 AM; Sunday 2 PM to 12 AM

Step back in time with a visit to Churchills, a Canal Street classic that’s been serving up good times for decades. Known for its lively karaoke nights and upbeat atmosphere, this pub is a staple in Manchester’s LGBTQ+ community.

Originally named the Mechanic Arms in the late 1800s, the pub underwent a transformation in the 1980s and rebranded itself as Churchills. Since then, it’s been a go-to spot for those looking to belt out a tune or simply soak in the spirited ambiance.

Pro Tip: If you’re a karaoke aficionado or just love a good sing-along, Churchills is your stage. Their karaoke nights are legendary, offering a mix of classic hits and current chart-toppers.

Address: 101 Princess St, The, Manchester M1 6DD, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441619500101

Website: http://www.cruz101.com/

Operating Hours: Monday to Wednesday, closed; Thursday 11 AM to 5 PM; Friday 10:30 PM to 6 AM; Saturday 10:30 PM to 7 AM; Sunday 11 PM to 5 AM 

If you’re a night owl with a penchant for dancing until the sun comes up, Cruz 101 is your go-to spot on Canal Street. 

Housed in a repurposed shipping warehouse, this iconic venue has been the heart of Manchester’s late-night scene since 1992. You might even recognize it as the Babylon bar from the TV series ‘Queer as Folk.’

When it comes to themed nights, Cruz 101 doesn’t disappoint. Their Disco Inferno nights on Mondays are a blast from the past, featuring ’70s and ’80s tunes and have been a staple since 1993. 

But if you’re all about the here and now, their Saturday night parties are legendary, keeping the dance floor packed until an astonishing 7 AM in the morning!

Pro Tip: You can request 80s and 90s songs, and there are even drag queens who’ll reenact the singers who sang them! Some will pose as Madonna, Patrick Swayze, and even the Abba for an exciting night partying in one of Manchester’s most colourful places! 

Where to Eat 

Address: 74 Princess St, Manchester M1 6JD, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441615490005

Website: http://www.peruperdu.com/

Operating Hours: Sunday to Wednesday 12 to 9 PM; Thursday 12 to 9:30 PM; Friday to Saturday 12 to 10 Pm

Located just steps away from Manchester’s bustling Gay Village, Peru Perdu offers a culinary journey to South America. 

Specialising in Uruguayan Wet Aged steaks, plant-based options, and grilled fish, this restaurant is a foodie’s paradise. Before the pandemic, it was a hub for unique events like bottomless cocktail brunches and drag queen carols. 

Don’t miss their signature Peruvian cocktails; the coffee and watermelon pisco sours are a must-try for an invigorating experience.

Address: 46 Sackville St, Manchester M1 3WF, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441616974474

Website: http://www.richmondtearooms.com/

Operating Hours: Monday to Friday 10 AM to 7 PM; Saturday 9:30 AM to 8 PM; Sunday 9:30 AM to 6 PM

Step into a world of whimsy at Richmond Tea Rooms, where traditional English tea meets a Wonderland-esque atmosphere. 

This Canal Street gem offers an expansive selection of teas, both classic and exotic, from around the globe. 

A must-try is their afternoon tea, complete with handmade fruit scones and an array of sandwiches. Due to its popularity, advance booking is highly recommended.

Address: 25 Sackville St, Greater, Manchester M1 3LZ, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441612361364

Website: http://www.arnero.co.uk/

Operating Hours: Monday, closed; Tuesday to Thursday 5 to 10 PM; Friday to Saturday 5 to 11 PM

Nestled in Manchester’s vibrant dining landscape, Arnero stands out as a haven for authentic North Indian cuisine. 

With an open kitchen that fills the air with aromatic spices, the restaurant offers a diverse menu that captures the essence of India’s culinary traditions. 

From rich North Indian curries to succulent tandoori kebabs and freshly baked breads, Arnero’s chefs masterfully blend regional flavours into each dish. 

Address: 44 Canal St, Manchester M1 3WD, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441612477999

Website: https://www.restaurantsofmanchester.com/mobile/oriental/chuan.htm

Operating Hours: Daily 5 to 11 PM 

For a late-night Chinese food fix in the Gay Village, Chuan is your go-to spot. This Gay Village gem of a restaurant offers a range of delectable dishes like Beef Noodles and Fried Dumplings filled with Pork, Leek, and Shrimp. 

The generous portions make it perfect for sharing, and the flavours are nothing short of amazing. Whether you’re dipping dumplings in noodle soup or savouring each bite, Chuan promises a delightful dining experience in a warm and inviting setting.

Address: 2 Canal St, Manchester M1 3HE, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441612369003

Website: https://www.velvetmanchester.com/village-brasserie

Operating Hours: Monday to Tuesday, closed; Wednesday to Thursday 4 to 9:30 PM; Friday to Saturday 12 to 10 PM; Sunday 12 to 7:30 PM

Nestled in the heart of the Village, Village Brasserie by Velvet is your go-to for all-day dining with a stylish twist. 

The venue boasts an award-winning mixologist and a menu that’s a fusion of British and Mediterranean influences. Committed to quality and seasonality, their dishes range from Pan-Seared Duck Breast in aromatic prune sauce to perfectly chargrilled steaks. 

If you’re looking for lighter fare, their Niçoise Salad is a hit. And let’s not forget the vegetarians and vegans; the Risotto Verde and Creamy Pasta Bake are just as mouth-watering. It’s a culinary experience that caters to all, in an atmosphere that’s both relaxed and chic.

Where to Stay 

Directions

Nestled right in the epicentre of Manchester’s vibrant Canal Street, Le Ville Hotel is your go-to for a stay that’s as colourful as the area itself.

With four distinct room types, this hotel isn’t just about a place to crash; it’s about finding the perfect backdrop to your Canal Street adventure. Whether you’re a solo traveller or rolling with your squad, Le Ville has got you covered. 

Directions

Just near the Le Ville Hotel is the Velvet Hotel, Bar & Brasserie which is another great hotel that you can stop by if you’re partying in Canal Street. 

This has great amenities and contemporary rooms perfect for both tourists and local Mancunians who just want to have a good time. They also have indoor pools if you want to party in your room should you be fed up in the outside world full of colourful and vibrant clubs. 

Directions

If you’re staying at the Gay Village, might as well go to the New Union and get a great room where you can spend the night near the clubs. 

The amenities are just as welcoming as the other hotels we’ve mentioned, and their cafes and indoor restaurant are also a must-visit if you’re sober in the morning from the fun night you had partying! 

Directions

While the rest of the hotels on this list are party-friendly, the Clayton Hotel is quieter and have stricter rules when it comes to noise and other hyper activities that go on during drag parties and fun evenings.

However, it doesn’t mean that the hotel isn’t lively when it needs to be! Its cocktail bars are the place to be if you want indoor fun within the hotel’s premises. 

Directions

Just a few blocks away from the groups of clubs in Canal Street, the Leven Manchester hotel is among the more affordable bookings you can find if you’re on a budget.

However, it doesn’t mean in the slightest that it’s a bad place to stay! Not at all! In fact, it has one of the cosiest rooms in the street which is perfect for resting so you can prepare yourself for the wild nights you’ll experience inside the Gay Village clubs. 

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