Manchester is a welcoming and cosmopolitan city in Northern England, and home to a thriving LGBTQ scene which is well known across the world. Manchester’s Gay Village is the beating heart of the LGBTQ community; made famous by the hugely popular original Queer as Folk TV series, the area continues to be packed with thousands of revelers every weekend. There’s something for everyone in Manchester regardless of sexuality and plenty to explore beyond the confines of Canal Street, with a year-round calendar of events that always provide a reason to visit.
The Gay Village
Manchester’s Gay Village is one of the oldest and most established gay communities in Europe and is known as the “Gay capital of Northern England”. Centered around famous Canal Street, this is a thriving hub for partygoers with nightlife, bars, restaurants and even tearooms run by the LGBTQ community. Start with something to eat at the upmarket No 1 Canal Street, or a traditional afternoon tea at Alice in Wonderland themed Richmond Tea Rooms followed by a wander along the canalside bars stopping into Via for a glass of wine, or having a sing-along at Oscars theater-style show bar. If it’s nightlife you’re looking for, then G-A-Y, Cruz 101, or The Eagle all offer varying alternatives to suit all persuasions.
Manchester Pride Festival
The Manchester Pride festival is a four-day event held across the city center made up of – Manchester Pride Live with previous headliners including Ariana Grande and Years & Years; the Gay Village Party which turns the whole village into one big rainbow party; Youth Pride Mcr, creating a safe space for young people over 14 years old to celebrate Pride; the Superbia Weekend, an alcohol-free space featuring music, art and films; and the important Candlelit Vigil, which closes the four-day festival with space to remember those lost to HIV and to reflect on the challenges facing the LGBTQ community. This year’s event takes place from the August 28-31, 2020.
Queer Alternative Nightlife
Whilst the Gay Village is center of LGBTQ life, fringe venues across the city have popped up providing alternative queer nights; in the Northern Quarter, Kiss Me Again takes place at Soup Kitchen, whilst Bollox goes all out in queer protest at Deaf Institute; and Hidden – an industrial warehouse turned club hosts Homoelectric in the middle of a Salford industrial estate. Elsewhere, The Refuge regularly welcomes all to Come As You Are at its queer parties, whilst HOME exhibits LGBTQ cinema and art.
Manchester is famed for being welcoming, open and diverse, and is proud to host The Sparkle Weekend, the world’s largest celebration of gender diversity, with a wonderful weekend of celebration for the trans community. Run by Sparkle, the UK national transgender charity, the weekend is held in July on Canal Street and features music, food, DJ’s, help and advice and is open to the trans and non-binary community and their trans rights allies.
Queer Culture and History
Manchester is full of history and culture; at The People’s History Museum, the UK’s national museum of democracy, you’ll find a permanent collection of items related to the fight for LGBTQ equality. Throughout the city you can follow the LGBT Heritage Trail, marking landmark LGBTQ spots with rainbow mosaics in places such as the Alan Turing statue or The Transgender Memorial. Hope Mill Theatre is an award-winning fringe venue run from a former textile mill by two actors who spotted creative potential in Manchester, many of its shows make the West End and it is well-known for producing plays exploring coming out, LGBTQ relationships, and queer culture. Other emerging theatre include Queer Contact festival held at the newly renovated Contact Theatre; and the Green Carnation Company who produce solely queer theater productions throughout the city.
Photos and content provided by Visit Manchester