The greatest time of the year has arrived in the greatest city in the world. There’s no place like Manchester in the summer; we’ve always said that the city would be far too powerful if we had sun for more than thirty days out of the year.
There’s so much to do in Manchester this summer - from fabulous events in the city centre to arts and culture in Stockport, recently announced as Greater Manchester's Town of Culture 2023. Whether you’re new in town, visiting for a few days, or know the city like the back of your hand, there are bound to be plenty of things you’re unaware of (believe us, researching this blog opened our eyes to some massive events around town).
Best things to do in Manchester in Summer 2023
We’ve put together a handy guide with some of the best things to do in the city centre and beyond in summer 2023. From festivals to days out, music and comedy to a walk in the park, family fun to late-night entertainment.
Go wild with the animals at Heaton Park, or after hours at Chester Zoo
Heaton Park is a beautiful day out in its own right, as the biggest and best park in the North West (according to the Manchester City Council’s website, anyway). Amongst historical landmarks, row boats, a museum and a garden centre, it’s so much more than just the place they do Parklife every year.
Maybe its most exciting feature, however, is the Animal Centre. Meet the horses, donkeys and cattle in the fields, the farmyard animals within the centre walls, and maybe even a more exotic friend like a tortoise or an alpaca! The centre is open between 10am-4pm daily, and plenty of friendly staff members are on-hand to answer any questions you might have.
If you’re willing to go a little further afield, there’s plenty more animal fun to be had at Chester Zoo. With over 20,000 animals, the zoo is regarded as the third-best in the world, and a visit there makes it easy to see why.
For something a little different this summer, Chester Zoo is doing special Into the Night visits for families and adults throughout June and July. With tickets starting at just £10, folks have the unique chance to view the park as the sun goes down, accompanied by live entertainment and delicious food and drinks.
Enjoy theatre, art, and other events at the Manchester International Festival
The team behind Manchester International Festival have really pulled out all the stops this year in order to properly celebrate the opening of Factory International, a brand new culture and arts centre by the riverside. An exhibition of work from world-renowned artist Yayoi Kusama; days of family-friendly festival fun and late-night DJ sessions at the new Festival Square; a sharply-comic and stereotype-challenging theatre piece provokingly titled “Untitled F*ck M*ss S**gon Play”; a retelling of world history from a queer lens entitled “The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions”. This is just scratching the surface of the incredible programme of events on offer at MIF this summer.
Listen to your favourite music performed by a choir by candlelight
Nothing quite says a perfect evening than a medley of your favourite songs performed at an intimate concert by candlelight. Candlelight Concerts are fairly well-known worldwide (and on Instagram - we’re sure you’ve been targeted by them before) and have been performing in the Manchester Cathedral for a while now. Amongst this year’s offerings, Candlelight Concerts are bringing tributes to everyone from Fleetwood Mac, The Legend of Zelda, Coldplay, Vivaldi, Whitney Houston, Daft Punk and ABBA over the summer.
Enjoy iconic comedy nights where the greats started
Manchester is, without a doubt, one of the greatest cities for a guaranteed laugh. We’ve been bringing quality comedy to the masses for decades and show no sign of slowing down.
The world-renowned Frog and Bucket is the first port of call for quality comedy. Famous for platforming acts which have gone on to huge success, like Johnny Vegas, Sarah Millican and Jason Manford, their shows feature a variety of big names (Lucy Beaumont is playing a WIP at the very end of summer) right down to the newest of the new - their infamous Monday show “Beat the Frog” sees first-time performers trying to perform a five minute set without being buzzed off akin to Britain’s Got Talent. If you want to see some of the maddest Mancunians beyond Market Street, this is a show you’ve got to see.
Legendary UK comedy institution The Comedy Store has had a base in Manchester for years, but now they’re bringing their iconic shows to Canvas, Bierkeller and Freight Island. Keep an eye out for specific events across the city throughout the summer!
Heading out of the city centre, arguably the greatest comedy night you can find is Chorlton Comedy Club. Their comedy night is the first Friday of every month and they claim to bring some of the very best acts from around the UK - even those who normally fill stadiums and arenas. Get the tram to St Werburgh’s Road and discover some proper Northern comedy.
Try some world-beating culinary delights
We aren’t lying when we say that Manchester is one of the best places to find good eats. From our first Michelin-star restaurant in Mana to our much-discussed eaterie The Spärrows, the food in Manchester is second to none. Manc-based ideas like Rudy’s and Yard and Coop have gone on to take over the UK, while the best of London is now establishing itself up North - we’re looking at you, Dishoom.
There really is unbeatable food for every budget, from the star of Salford, The Black Friar, right down to the fabled This & That, a cheap and *incredibly* cheerful spot in the Northern Quarter. If you haven’t eaten in MCR, you haven’t lived.
Bring pride to town at Manchester Pride 2023
By and large the best weekend of the year (yes, this writer might be biased), Manchester Pride is one of Europe’s biggest LGBTQIA+ celebrations and a highlight in the Manchester calendar. Whether you’re queer or an ally, there’s plenty to do in town over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Pride Parade sees hundreds of out and proud Mancunians celebrating and protesting (because, remember, Pride IS a protest!) through the streets of the city centre, usually as the Saturday afternoon sun beams in the sky (touch wood). It’s completely free to attend, as is the Monday evening Candlelight Vigil, a sombre event in which we remember those we have lost in years gone by.
If you fancy attending the Gay Village Party, tickets are available for just £41 for the whole weekend, which includes a donation of £2.50 to the Community Fund charity. In addition to experiencing unmatchable vibes throughout the village, the Sackville Gardens live performance lineup has been revealed, featuring Brazilian drag legend Pabllo Vittar, Jake Shears (of Scissor Sisters fame), Natasha Bedingfield, and more. There’s also a surprise special guest yet to be announced, and knowing MCR Pride’s past it could be anyone from Ariana Grande to Jo from S Club.
Brunch with a twist (and it doesn’t have to be bottomless)
It’s safe to say that brunch has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years. What once was a meal between breakfast and lunch (the Northern urge not to say dinner here really came through) has now become a catch-all term for a meal with friends, usually on a weekend, and more often than not containing a lot of alcohol. It’s transformed into an art form, and there are themed brunches for every taste, interest and dietary requirement. Instead of talking about the classics, like The Firehouse brunch and Crazy Peds, we’re gonna talk about a lesser-known offering that deserves your attention.
Luxury hotel King Street Townhouse has created arguably the most relaxing brunch we’ve ever seen: a balcony yoga session overlooking the skyline on their South Terrace, followed by a brunch and smoothie, plus an optional add-on of two hours of gym and spa. Far from a brunch boozer, this one is a relaxing Sunday escape while experiencing a gorgeous view of the city.
Discover nature in the heart of the city, or further afield
Last year we were elated to find out that an abandoned viaduct in Castlefield was to be transformed into an elevated green space inspired by The High Line in New York City. While we’re still far off the space reaching its full potential, Castlefield Viaduct has already transformed from the small space we had last year, with blooming flowers and art installations abound. We’re excited to see how it will look in one year, two years, even ten years!
If you, like us, love nothing more than to while away the hours in a sunny green space, then Manchester has plenty of beautiful parks to offer. For a lunch break in the middle of the city, we’d recommend St John’s Gardens, or if you’re happy to travel a bit farther away there’s Salford’s Peel Park, Didsbury’s Fletcher Moss Park & Botanical Gardens, and Chorlton’s Water Park. If you don’t want to deviate too far from the Central Zone, visit the leafy St Michael’s Flags and Angel Meadow, or for a park that’s a stone's throw from everything going on in town, Sackville Gardens is a great choice.
And finally, get some f*cking culture
Look, we’re in Manchester. We can imagine all the lovely sunny days we want, but you know there’s gonna be a fair few miserable days thrown in for good measure. Luckily, there are plenty of rainy-day activities set up for us - almost like we plan for bad weather.
The newly reopened Manchester Museum is back and better than ever, and it’s got all the classics you want from a museum, right down to a massive dinosaur skeleton. Plenty of free events are taking place this summer; all you need to do is book.
Manchester Art Gallery is a must-visit, too, with new exhibitions launching all the time. One of their current exhibitions is literally about how hot drinks shape our lives - could anything be more Northern? Additionally, Whitworth Gallery is a short bus ride from central and is not only full of gorgeous art but is itself a beautiful piece of architecture. Stop by the café for a cuppa and a cake and enjoy the beautiful view of Whitworth Park while you’re there!
If you want something really experimental and out there, get yourself down to Chorlton and the Rag Gallery. Opened by students who bought it off the council, it’s a super-contemporary, very cool place to visit.
For a proper insight into the people of MCR, we have to recommend the People’s History Museum and the Manchester Jewish Museum. Finally, if you’re a football fan, you cannot miss out on visiting the National Football Museum.
Of course, this is just scratching the surface of our wonderful city and what it has to offer. If you’re still unsure, have a wander about Northern Quarter, Didsbury, Castlefield or Ancoats and see what you can discover for yourself. We’re also always sharing what we’ve been up to on TikTok - make sure you’re following us to see how we spend our summer!