An Insider's Guide to Manchester

Manchester – birthplace of Oasis, raves, and of course, Fatsoma. Somewhere that’s used to punching up. Raising the volume. Partying on its own terms.

Living here is like being in several cities at once. You never quite know what you’re going to get. Unless, maybe, you read our inside view on what separates one area from the next.

So take our lead if you’re planning a visit, or want to explore a side you’ve never seen before. We’re summing up the red-faced grin of a city that really is like nowhere else in the country.

Northern Quarter

We think the Northern Quarter might be one of the most flammable areas in the UK, considering the amount of beard oil here.

Yeah, it’s a little bit of a cliché – a monument to hipsterdom, where the avocados are free range and DJs spin ambient Icelandic electro.

But there’s so much soul to love too. There’s graffiti everywhere (the good kind). Art hovels, craft shops and independent galleries can be found on every corner. Vintage stores push the indie spirit forward, whilst skateboarders fly down Thomas Street on a Friday, catching the last of the sun’s rays.

Love to dive into bargain bins for corduroy trousers? Fancy finding a zine that went out of print in 1993? This is your dream day out.


It’s the baby brother of Castlefield, the waterways weaving around the city’s southern edge. But Ancoats, to the north, is its own beast. You could get lost here for years, only emerging as a wizened old person who knows each boat by name.

Ancoats used to be kind of grim and gritty. But now, millions has been pumped into residential projects, new bars and cultural venues. It’s one of the hottest places to live in Manchester for 20-somethings with cash to burn.

Chill by the canals on a hot afternoon – just stay on goose alert, and you’ll keep your toes. Then find some local ice cream, break the bike out, or wander around the repurposed mills.

Deansgate & Spinningfields

Deansgate is pretty notorious. The clubs, bars and fine dining are a playground for hench guys in blazers, or hen parties trailing a sash around the taxi queue.

Looking for Manchester glitz? You’ve found it. The air is filled with cheers, cheap perfume and the crunch of gourmet chicken. Deansgate Locks takes you on a merry trip from Whitworth Street West, where you’ll find live comedy and explosive cocktails. Further up past Quay Street, you might even see a footballer cutting loose in Spinningfields, fending off backslaps on the dancefloor.

Spinningfields is mostly pedestrianised – a collage of noodles bars and high glass offices to the left of Deansgate road. It’s a good spot for a meeting, or the pop of champagne after a hard day ruling the universe.

Work and play rub shoulders here. What’s really cool is how quickly you can switch from one to the other, in just a five-minute walk.

Oxford Road & Curry Mile

Here there be monsters – most of them second years at uni, drunk on overdrafts and student grants. They haunt some of the weirdest bars in Manchester, with cheap food and entertainment behind the old, repurposed buildings.

Then, further up, you have an endless, snaking line of takeaways on Oxford Road, spiced with shisha dens.

The East of the city isn’t just left for the young and reckless though. HOME cinema stands as one of the best independents in the country. Live music venues keep pulling in the next big names. Several decades-old pubs have stuck around too.

Oxford Road and the Curry Mile are tough to sum up. They’re equally loud, strange and affordable, and something can be found here for everyone.

Hopefully you’ve now got a taste for Manchester’s delights. We won’t blame you for falling in love with the place – Fatsoma have always called this city home. You can make anything happen in the right environment. And we reckon Manchester is a great trigger for your own ambitions.

Tell us what you love about the city. We want to know where you like to hang out. Head over to Instagram and enter our competition - you could win £100 to spend at your favourite venue.