Manchester’s Northern Quarter is renowned for its independent bars and restaurants, cafes, music and clothes shops.
The Northern Quarter is the best place in Manchester to find independent shops and boutiques.
Afflecks provides affordable outlets for more than 50 independent designers, vintage stalls, and more. The best time to go is midweek when it’s not crawling with teenagers.
The area is home to an impressive number of independent record shops and stalls. Some of best include Piccadilly Records and Vinyl Exchange on Oldham Street, Beatin’ Rhythm on Tib Street, and Vinyl Revival on Hilton Street.
Fans of vintage clothes shops will find plenty of options in the Northern Quarter. One of the oldest is Pop Boutique on Oldham Street. It opened in 1994 and offers two floors of retro clothing from the 60s, 70s and 80s. There’s also a homeware section packed with vintage furniture, kitchenware, and kitsch. Another established store is American Graffiti on Hilton Street. It stocks a large range of fancy dress outfits, masks and accessories plus outfits from the 40s to 80s.
Magma on Oldham Street sells a fascinating range of books, periodicals and magazines not found in high street bookstores. There’s a strong emphasis on titles covering architecture, design, publishing, film, photography and fashion. The store also carries a good selection of T-shirts, stationery, postcards, posters, and quirky gifts.
The Manchester Craft and Design Centre is home to some of the city’s best creative talent. Set in a Victorian market building it offers two floors of shops and studios selling unique jewellery, textiles, ceramics, and more.
Other shops worthy of note include Fred Aldous (art supplies), Northern Flower (boutique florists), Oi Polloi (designer menswear), Thunder Egg (Japanese inspired clothing and accessories), A Few Fine Things (bags), and Travelling Man (comics and games).
Bars & Clubs
The Northern Quarter is home to an eclectic mix of independent bars, clubs and live music venues.
Matt & Phreds on Tib Street offers live music, predominantly jazz, from Monday to Saturday, plus poetry readings, literature events, and more. Entrance is free for most performances on week nights. It also boasts an excellent kitchen offering pizzas, bar snacks, and more. Tables can be reserved by contacting the club in advance.
The Band on the Wall is one of Manchester’s most famous live music venues. Occupying an old Victorian pub on Swan Street it has hosted gigs from legendary bands such as Joy Division, The Fall, Simply Red and The Buzzcocks. It reopened in 2009 following a multi-million pound redevelopment.
Sankeys is widely regarded as one of the world’s best clubs. It began life in 1994 as Sankeys Soap and is based in the Beehive Mill in Ancoats. Over the years it has hosted some of the world’s best DJs and dance acts such as Carl Cox, The Chemical Brothers, Groove Armada, and Judge Jules.
The Frog & Bucket is Manchester’s longest running comedy venue. Established acts play Thursday to Sunday. Beat The Frog on Mondays is an amateur night with free entry that has helped launch the careers of performers such as Peter Kay, Johnny Vegas, and Dave Gorman.
Visitors wishing to avoid the chain restaurants that dominate other areas of Manchester city centre will find plenty of options in the Northern Quarter.
The Earth Café is a vegan restaurant situated in the basement of the Manchester Buddhist Centre. The menu makes good use of ethically sourced ingredients, purchased from local suppliers where possible.
This & That on Soap Street is a no-nonsense Indian curry café with canteen style seating. It specialises in ‘Rice and Three’, a hearty plate of boiled rice with 3 different curries.
Hotels & Apartments
The Light Aparthotel is a boutique apartment hotel on Church Street. It offers modern studios, one and two bedroom apartments, plus penthouses with balconies offering fantastic views of Manchester city centre. Facilities include a gym and free wireless internet access.
Britannia Sachas is a budget 3-star hotel with more than 200 rooms, a couple of restaurants, a bar, and gym. It’s situated on Church Street close to Piccadilly Gardens.
Shudehill Interchange (Metrolink and bus station) lies just north of the Northern Quarter. Market Street and Piccadilly Gardens Metrolink stations are also close by. The nearest train station is Victoria.
Places to park include the NCP car park on Tib Street and the NCP multi-storey car park on Church Street.