Travel 5 minutes 04 June 2024

Manchester for Music Lovers

Explore the musical history of one of the UK's liveliest and most exciting cities with our MICHELIN Guide itinerary

In a country known for its musical heritage, few UK cities can rival Manchester’s electric and eclectic music scene. The birthplace of iconic bands like Oasis, The Smiths, Joy Division and, yes, Take That, the city is overflowing with music landmarks and packed with venues, from the small and intimate to the recently launched Co-Op Live, set to be the UK’s biggest indoor arena. With its dining scene going from strength to strength and a whole host of Michelin-recommended spots to choose from, this north-western powerhouse is a dream combination for music and food-lovers. Read on for our top tips.

Day 1

Where to Stay
Aim to arrive in Manchester around mid-afternoon, giving yourself plenty of time for the journey as well as some breathing space before dinner. Whether you’re in town for a low-key gig, an arena show or to follow in the footsteps of your favourite bands, you’re going to want somewhere well placed and comfortable to rest considering all the noise and excitement to come. Just across from Piccadilly station, ABode Manchester is as central as you can get, just a few minutes’ walk from the lively Northern Quarter and within easy reach of the AO Arena. Set in a heritage-listed former warehouse, it marries period details with a modern interior design and vibrant colours to liven up those gloomy northern days.

Kimpton Clocktower Hotel
Kimpton Clocktower Hotel

Alternatively, for glamorous boutique style, you can’t go wrong with Kimpton Clocktower, a luxury hotel combining a grand Victorian façade with light-filled spaces and musical flourishes in a nod to the city’s history – each room has a turntable and vinyl records of some of the Manchester’s most mythical bands. Stay here for easy access to The Bridgewater Hall and Albert Hall.

Finally, there's the chic Moxy Manchester City. With its cool, urban loft styling and music-themed interior that makes nostalgic references to legendary local bands, this is somewhere music aficionados will feel right at home.

After checking in and getting changed, it’s time to kick off your stay with a Michelin-Starred dinner, so it’s off to innovative mana in Ancoats. With the aim of breaking down barriers, the vast and stylish dining room looks onto the kitchen, where the chefs craft dishes from British produce using Asian techniques and a natural approach, overseen by Chef-Owner Simon Martin. Seafood dominates as, in the words of Simon, “we live on an island”. Guests can choose between three different tasting menus and an extensive wine list to ensure the perfect pairings. Follow up dinner with cocktails at The Jane Eyre or visit The Edinburgh Castle for a more laid-back nightcap.


Day 2

Start early with breakfast back in Ancoats. Resurrected in recent decades, this neighbourhood is often touted as one of the coolest in the world. A big part of that is Pollen, one of the city’s most celebrated bakeries. No stranger to queues, this sweet spot is famous for its delicious hand-made sourdough loaves, cakes and viennoiseries.

Boots filled, it’s time for a Manchester Music Tour. With the choice of a 90-minute walk or bus ride, this is your chance to cover the same stomping ground as your musical heroes across dozens of locations. The company’s tours cover The Smiths, Joy Division, Oasis and The Stone Roses, with customised routes also available.

Manchester legends The Stone Roses
Manchester legends The Stone Roses

If you prefer to go it alone, why not visit the site of the once iconic Hacienda nightclub and music venue, which put Manchester on the map during the ‘Madchester’ years in the '80s and '90s? Then head to the Boardwalk, where Oasis had their first-ever gig and the likes of Man From Delmonte, Happy Mondays and The Charlatans performed regularly. A short walk from there is Lesser Free Trade Hall, which hosted the 1976 Sex Pistols show known as the 'gig that changed the world'.

From your tour, it’s a short walk to El Gato Negro, which serves up a wide range of iconic Spanish tapas dishes in a historic three-storey townhouse. Sit in front of the open kitchen to watch the chefs at work or, when the weather’s right, find a spot outdoors or on the stunning rooftop terrace. Modern meets traditional on the award-winning menu, which features meats from the Josper grill, vegetarian and vegan options, and delicious desserts, from crèma catalana and Basque cheesecake to Tarta de Santiago.

Alternatively, head straight to the Northern Quarter – this afternoon's location for exploring– and 63 Degrees, for dining à la Parisienne. Run by the Moreau family, this brasserie-style restaurant is named after their technique for cooking poultry long and low at 63 degrees. Like a traditional brasserie, the menu is eclectic, featuring classic French dishes – think escargots and crème brûlée – alongside varied meat dishes and a surprising burger selection.

Joby Catto / El Gato Negro
Joby Catto / El Gato Negro

After lunch, it’s time to hit the beloved Northern Quarter. The city’s indie heartland, it’s known for its hip bars and restaurants, live music, vibrant street art and independent record shops. Oldham Street is the beating heart of the neighbourhood, home to music shops stocked with collectibles and new vinyls, and the Night and Day Café, famous for its legendary music nights. Further down, you’ll find Afflecks, an “emporium of eclecticism” in its own words. Spread over three floors, this indoor market has plenty to please music lovers with vinyls, posters and a host of music memorabilia.

It's the moment you've been waiting for! Do what you initially came to do – head out to the gig or show you've been building up to for months and really immerse yourself in the music.

Manchester's Northern Quarter
Manchester's Northern Quarter

Day 3

Let's face it, you didn't get in until the early hours, so a lie in is just what you need! After an orange juice - and maybe an aspirin or two – make your way over to Bib Gourmand awarded The Spärrows, set a short walk from the AO Arena in an inconspicuous spot you might easily miss. Tucked away behind a black door under a railway arch in the Green Quarter, you ring the bell to enter. Once inside, you’re greeted by airy European décor that leans further into the understated. The acclaimed menu is a celebration of Tyrolean cuisine with spätzle – their signature dish – listed alongside handmade pasta and dumplings, served with regional sauces and European wines.

The Spärrows
The Spärrows

An Afternoon Out of Town…
Having already become well-acquainted with the musical trail in Manchester city centre, take the opportunity to visit Stockport to soak up this nearby town’s illustrious musical heritage too. The birthplace of 10cc and Blossoms, it was a regular draw for the world’s biggest bands in the 60s, hosting The Beatles at the Offerton Palace Theatre and The Rolling Stones at the Essoldo cinema. The Who, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart and Elton John have also played Stockport, at venues including the (now defunct) Manor Lounge, Tabernacle and Sinking Ship. And music lovers shouldn’t miss Strawberry Studios, known as the Abbey Road of the North and used by artists including 10cc (for their first four albums), Joy Division, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Wax and Paul McCartney before its closure in the early 1990s. For a deep dive, visit the Strawberry Gallery at Stockport Museum.

If your visit falls on the last Friday of the month, you’re in luck. Once a month, the town hosts the award-winning Foodie Friday event at Stockport Market, where visitors enjoy live music and sample delicious street food from traders serving everything from pizza to dumplings, wraps, tapas and delicious vegetarian and vegan options.

where the light gets in.jpeg

Otherwise, make sure you've booked Where The Light Gets In, a Michelin Green Star restaurant housed in a Victorian coffee warehouse with an open-plan kitchen-cum-dining-room. Here, the surprise menu combines seasonal offerings with a creative touch, concocted around naturally grown farm produce and fresh meat. The intimate space accommodates just 40 guests who are regaled with stories from the farm as they’re served dishes from an ever-evolving selection, paired with complementary natural wines.

On Your Journey Back…
With your music and food odyssey complete, it’s time to head for home. And for those of you looking for one last memorable experience, we have a couple more recommendations in store…

Foodies heading south-east might want to drop in for lunch at the Michelin-recommended The Pack Horse pub in Hayfield. Housed in a traditional stone building, this acclaimed establishment serves typical pub grub alongside more refined dishes like stone bass fillet with clam & sea vegetable pistou. The pub takes a sustainable approach and its menu changes with the seasons. But with a friendly team, real ales, pub quizzes and an open fire in winter, warmth is a constant.

The White Hart
The White Hart

Or if your journey’s taking you north-east, why not stop at The White Hart pub in Oldham? Step inside and you’ll find a cosy 18th Century interior, with comfort leading the way in the Barn and Tap Rooms, and a touch of elegance added in the Dining Room, which serves pub classics alongside some more restaurant-style dishes. Perched on a hill, this lovely pub has panoramic views reaching all the way back to Manchester, giving guests the chance to enjoy one last longing glance. And if you really can’t tear yourself away, there are comfortable rooms upstairs.

Address Book

Afflecks: 52 Church Street, Manchester, M4 1PW
Foodie Friday: Market Place, Stockport, SK1 1EU
Night & Day Café: 26 Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JN
Pollen Bakery: Cotton Field Wharf, 8 New Union Street, Manchester, M4 6FQ
Stockport Museum: 30 Market Place, Stockport, SK1 1ES
Strawberry Studios: 5 Waterloo Road, Stockport, SK1 3AZ
The Edinburgh Castle: 17 Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 5EP
The Jane Eyre: 14 Hood Street, Manchester, M4 6WX

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