A Rainy Guide to Manchester

Posted in Derby World

We’re very proud to welcome the world of roller derby to Manchester for the Roller Derby World Summit. For all visitors, we’ve put a little guide together to our amazing city. We hope you have an amazing time!

Psssst! PDF version of this guide is available here 🙂

Getting around

Uber is prevalent in Manchester. Legislation means we have to display our Uber cars as if they were taxis, so all vehicles that pull up will say Uber on the side. Tipping in cabs is not required. Public transport is great, with trams and buses helping you get around. The city centre is small and quite walkable with ease, so getting around should be a pleasant experience.

Shopping

Convenience Stores/Gas Stations

There are a handful of convenience stores located within walking distance to the Manchester Conference Centre. The closest store is a SPAR which you can find by turning left out of MCC and heading down Charles Street, and then turning right onto Princess Street. The SPAR store is located on your left. The store stocks convenience food and drink, alcohol and cigarettes, and is open 24 hours.

The closest gas station is a Tesco Esso Express that is located on Upper Brook Street, which is 1.2 miles away from MCC. Again, head left out of MCC and turn down Charles Street, then turn left onto Upper Brook Street (A34) and you’ll find it on your left. It’s open from 6am until midnight every day, and there is also a cash machine outside

Grocery Stores

The nearest grocery store is Sainsbury’s, which you can find on Oxford Road opposite Manchester Oxford Road train station and the Palace Theatre. Again, turn left out of MCC and head down Charles Street until you hit Oxford Road. Turn right at the junction (there’s another SPAR here) and head straight on until you see Sainsbury’s. There aren’t many large grocery stores located in the city centre, but this store stocks a wider range of fresh food and meals than a SPAR store. This store is open from 7am until midnight every day and there is a cash machine outside.

Restaurants and Bars

Manchester is a massive city that is packed full of unique and award-winning restaurants and bars. It would be difficult to fit everything into just one weekend, but we’ve pulled together a small selection of interesting places within close distance to the MCC away from the usual multi-national chains.

Oxford Road

Head left out of MCC, down Charles Street and onto Oxford Road and you’ll find plenty of cafés, bars and coffee shops lining the street. Oxford Road is the main street that links the universities to the city centre, so you’ll find that these places tend to cater towards the student population with cheap lunch deals and even cheaper cocktails.

Kukoos offers a quick bite to eat and specialises in Indian, Moroccan, Lebanese street food, while Zouk, which is just around the corner on Chaucer Street, is a more formal restaurant offering Indian and Pakistani dishes owned by the same company.

Head further down Oxford Road but take a left before the railway bridge and you’ll find a small stretch of bars tucked away down this cool graffitied side street (New Wakefield Street). The Font bar is a usual student haunt as its extensive cocktail menu can suit a range of budgets, while Black Dog Ballroom comes complete with a pool room, roof terrace BBQ, and a basement bar and club. For a more traditional English pub, you might want to try The Thirsty Scholar, which is tucked underneath the railway arch, or head up the metal steps for tiki cocktails at the Zombie Shack.

If you head further down Oxford Road and take a left onto Whitworth Street, you’ll find bar and kitchen Gorilla that serves award winning royal breakfasts and Sunday roasts, chargrilled burgers and fancy sandwiches. It also boasts a gin parlour on the mezzanine level and a full list of cocktails, bottles and beers.

Canal Street and The Gay Village

A few minutes’ walk down Princess Street and you’ll come to the beginning of Manchester’s world famous Canal Street lined with numerous LGBTQ bars, clubs, hotels and restaurants. Head here late in the evening and you’ll understand why it’s named one of the busiest LGBTQ scenes in Europe.

For food and drink, Velvet offers classic British comfort food with a twist while The Molly House provides fresh and authentic Spanish and South American tapas dishes made to order.

If you fancy some English tea with a twist, visit Richmond Tea Rooms behind Canal Street for an Alice in Wonderland themed tea room. Beneath the extravagant decor you can enjoy cakes and cocktails until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and until 9:30pm on Sundays.

Later in the evening, fans of 90s pop should head to G-A-Y on the edge of Canal Street or Via for cheesy tunes until the early hours of the morning.

The Northern Quarter

A short walk from the MCC takes you to Manchester’s independent hipster area, which in recent years has gone from a handful of dive bars and gig venues to a large, bustling area filled with great independent shops, quirky bars and unique cafés.

For a great vegan diner that serves novelty burgers, cakes and a great cocktail list, head to V-Rev (Edge Street) and then jump across the road to Common for a wonderful collection of craft beer and great music.

Trof (Thomas Street) has become a Manchester favourite, built over three floors in a gorgeous old industrial red brick, it serves great drinks, a bustling and friendly atmosphere, live music at the weekend and  great for an English fry up for breakfast.

Soup Kitchen (Stevenson Square) is another Manchester fave, serving great soup, some hearty meals and a great collection of craft beer. Downstairs has live music and club nights in a typically dingy and dank Manchester basement. Stay on Stevenson Square to check out the amazing street art including a big David Bowie mural (perfect for some Instagram action) and sneak down Spear Street for a classic Manchester alley way filled with great street art and a lot of trash.

If you’re after a quick bite to eat while on the move, Go Falafel (Newton Street) is a great call. Grab yourself a cheap and quick falafel wrap and a salad on the side, shove it in your mouth and keep moving!

Good to Know!

The legal drinking age in the UK is 18, but most bars, shops and clubs operate a ‘Challenge 21’ policy, which means that they will ask you for photographic ID if they think you look under 21. Please bring a form of photographic ID with you if you wish to buy alcohol, or enter a place that serves alcohol after 9pm.

You must also be 18 or over to buy cigarettes or tobacco in the UK, and you are not allowed to smoke in enclosed public spaces such as bars or restaurants. Most places will have an outdoor smoking area for you to use.

Manchester isn’t called the rainy city for nothing! It’s probably going to rain during your stay, even if the sun is shining, so please pack an umbrella.

In the UK vehicles drive on the left, so please look right first when you’re crossing the street, or better still, use a pedestrian crossing. But you can totally jay-walk if you want to, we really don’t mind!

If you need to withdraw cash from a cash machine, try to find one that won’t charge you for doing so. Some machines will try to charge you up to £2 for withdrawals, and these are mainly located in clubs or bars. Don’t get caught out – there are plenty of free to use cash machines dotted around the city centre.

by Michael Watson

Bench manager for Rainy City Allstars. Likes to talk long and hard about typography. Can’t look at the colours pink and red next to each other without feeling a bit nauseous.