Manchester Music Bars & Clubs
The Manchester live music scene is one of the most important and popular in the UK, with some of Britain's best ever bands, acts and groups gracing the hallowed stages of these live music venues. Steeped in a rich history of music heritage from the forming of The Stone Roses to the business dealings of Factory Records - many bars and clubs here have a story to tell. If like us you're mad on music and want to conduct a music bar crawl then we have compiled a list of the top places to discover, and what makes them so important.
Last updated on 15th May 2016
In the heart of Manchester’s artistic neighbourhood, on Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter, sits DRY BAR. Originally opened by Factory Record’s Tony Wilson in 1989 - with catalogue number Dry 201 - it was the Northern Quarter’s original bar; a popular hangout for local stars and a pre-party watering hole for the Hacienda. Dry Bar is immersed in Manchester musical history and remains one of the city’s prominent food and drink establishments. Though Dry Bar is something of a Manchester legend, and the place where Shaun Ryder (Happy Mondays) infamously pulled a gun on Tony Wilson. In fact, the mirror behind the bar still bears the bullet hole.
Not many places can claim they were responsible for forming one of the world's most successful bands and one of the pioneering groups of the Madchester movement - The Stone Roses. Before its current name, Sound Control was the hugely popular A1 music shop, home to all things musical. The already existing members of The Stone Roses advertised via the shop's window for a new member in which none other than Remi noticed, auditioned and created an ever lasting Manchester legacy. The story goes he ripped it off the wall in order to make sure he was the only one who would get an audition - a good call indeed.
Factory251 - The Factory is the latest reincarnation of the building formerly known as Paradise Factory, Industry and as the home of the legendary Factory Records. After moving out of his suburban flat, Tony Wilson set up shop in now reformed Factory251. With layers of Manchester heritage bound between the walls, it's a must visit for a Manchester music club crawl. With a diverse range of club nights throughout the week there is always something to suit everybody.
Another Mancunian legend, Big Hands is the muso's choice. And by muso we don't mean the aspiring ones, although they're to be found in plentiful quantities here too. No, Big Hands is in fact something of a celebrity hotspot, in the most endearing way. This is a place where gig-goers and bands alike psyche themselves up before a show or kick-back to wind down afterwards. Its proximity to the Manchester Academies is its selling point, but don't just come here when you're at gigs, as it's good enough to warrant a trip on its own merits.
Describing The Temple - left down some stairs if you head from the Cornerhouse to St Peter’s Square - is one thing but to find the bar itself is another. Famed for being one of the smallest bars in Manchester though it makes sense when you learn it was converted from a public toilet. Adding to its quirkiness and charm is the notion that the bar has some real fans in the form of Manchester band Elbow. In fact, The Temple is regarded is such a high calibre that Guy Garvey and the boys wrote a song about it and if you're lucky, you may witness the man himself having a drink in there - a must visit for any music enthusiast.
Famed for its historic contribution to none other then little-known band - The Smiths - yeah right. It was here that arguably Manchester's biggest band played their first live gig supporting Blue Rondo A La Turk in October 1982. This was an appropriate live baptism given the venue's odd history. The Ritz was, and still is, the longest continuously used popular music venue in Manchester. It now hosts an enormous selection of universally acclaimed artists each week and a must visit for any music enthusiasts.
Many people argue that you can't just create a sense of history, you have to earn it - one thing that the 200 year old The Castle Hotel offers is just that. Woven and webbed into the aging brick walls and Victorian tiles, the venue is a long-running counterpart to the evolving Manchester music scene. It was here, for example, that the late John Peel interviewed legendary Joy Division frontman - Ian Curtis - for the Northern Lights ‘zine, a interview which further cemented The Castle into Manchester's musical heritage. Now each week a selection of up-and-coming artists grace the stage - a chance to spot the next big thing in the industry.