If you’re ever in a position where you’re forced to describe Manchester’s Gay Village in just two words (we don’t know why you would be, but it’s good to be prepared!), the words you’re looking for are fun and friendly. Well known to be one of the best nights out in the country, the district has earned a reputation for being a centre for LGBTQ culture in the UK – where truly anything goes.
On Pride Weekend in August, thousands of people descend on the village for a taste of Manchester’s famous hospitality, but although many of the area’s main events take place in the summer, the Gay Village is a hive of activity all year round.
Developers have started to realise the Gay Village’s potential, with Capital and Centric recently beginning work on Kampus – a development of 500 apartments with space for independent shops, an art gallery, doctor’s surgery and even a rooftop garden.
The Gay Village is located south of Chinatown along Canal Street and Richmond Street, and over the last few years, it has branched out onto some of the surrounding streets too. The village is centrally located less than ten minutes’ walk from Manchester Piccadilly Station, as well as having easy tram and bus routes out of the city centre and towards the suburbs and Manchester Airport.
History of the Gay Village
During the industrial revolution, the Rochdale Canal that now runs alongside Canal Street was one of the busiest canals in the country. But when the cloth trade declined in the 20th century, the area around the canal went into decline, with the once-busy warehouses falling into dereliction and becoming an underground location for gay men to meet.
In the 1980s, venues and clubs began to spring up around the Rochdale Canal, and in the 1990s, Manchester’s Gay Village started to build its reputation for being one of the friendliest and most welcoming LGBT+ communities in the country.
Renting in the Gay Village
If you’re looking to live in a down-to-earth, bustling area where everyone’s accepted, the Gay Village is going to be just your bag. However, housing in the area isn’t the easiest to come by, and because of its incredible city-centre location, the rent is generally higher than in other parts of the city.
As of April 2019, a studio apartment in the Gay Village costs upward of £725 per month on average. A 1-bedroom apartment costs on average £850 per month, and 2-bedroom flats cost on average £1300 per month.
Gay Village Restaurants, Bars, & Cafes
If you choose Manchester’s Gay Village as the place to hang your hat, it’s almost certain that The Molly House will become your local. Quiet, cosy and welcoming, you can get great tapas food here that caters for vegetarians and vegans as well as meat eaters.
The bar is staffed by some of the most friendly bartenders in the city, and you’ll find a healthy mix of chatty locals propping up the bar. Away from the bustle of Canal Street, Molly’s offers a calmer alternative drinking option, and because of that, it’s the perfect place to meet friends for a drink. On a cold winter’s day, sip your glass of wine next to the open fire. You’ll want to stay all evening.
If you’re feeling fancy, Mr White’s English Chophouse is perfect for special occasions or romantic dates. Tuck into a delicious meal in Marco Pierre White’s Manchester-based restaurant and enjoy the boujee interior – you'll be finding new excuses to visit in no time at all. In the summer, you can even take your glass of bubbly outside and watch the world go by.
Richmond Tea Rooms
If you’re looking for the perfect place to spill the T, the Richmond Tea Rooms is an elaborate, Alice in Wonderland themed experience that feels like a set from a movie. It serves delicious afternoon teas and their friendly customer service means that it’s both the perfect place to nurse your hangover after a night on Canal Street and the ideal spot to take your mum when she visits.
Jasmine is a consistently great Lebanese restaurant that won’t let you down. The restaurant offers authentic Lebanese cuisine, and is famed for its succulent grilled meats and smooth hummus. It’s a local favourite for lunch and dinner, and they’ll also pack up your food for take-away on those days where you can’t be bothered to cook.
Things To Do in the Gay Village
People flock to New York New York every night of the week for live drag shows, DJ sets, cabaret and karaoke. If you’re desperate to get on the dancefloor and sample the nightlife of Manchester’s Gay Village, this is a great place to start. All events are free, and the cabaret nights on Thursdays and Sundays draw diverse crowds from all over the city.
In the middle of city centres, green space is always at a premium. Manchester’s Gay Village offers some peaceful solace from busy city life, however, in the form of Sackville Gardens. This chilled park is located just over the bridge at the bottom of Canal Street and is the perfect place to hang out and relax with friends in the summer.
Day to day, the park is used by picnickers and dog walkers, but it’s the Alan Turing memorial and Beacons of Hope – a memorial for those who have lost their lives to HIV or AIDS - that most people come to visit. Pay your respects, then enjoy the park with a book and coffee.
Quite literally the pride of Manchester, people from all over the world travel to the city for Manchester Pride. With its beginnings as an AIDS fundraiser, the event grew into a Mardi Gras when bars started to organise performers and activities across a whole weekend in August.
These days, Manchester Pride is a huge celebration for the whole LGBTQ community and all its allies. Whilst the march and festival are a colourful and fun event, it is still a political protest at its heart. Manchester Pride is a registered charity and they deliver a programme of LGBT+ outreach events across Manchester to raise money and awareness.
Moving To Manchester’s Gay Village
If you want to live at the heart of one of the most heart-warmingly accepting and tolerant communities in Manchester, the Gay Village is ideal for you. It’s the perfect spot for the city-minded who also want some quaint features to their neighbourhood, and it’s sure to only get more popular as its reputation continues to grow.