As 2020 draws to a close, we look back at the people in Greater Manchester who hit the headlines during one of the most difficult years of modern times.
Manchester is a restless place. Always moving; always changing; always growing.
Whenever December rolls around, there’s invariably so much to dissect from the previous 12 months.
But standing at the cliff edge of 2020, most of us would rather look forward than back.
As a region, we’ve never needed a New Year more than this one.
2020 was still in its infancy when COVID-19 – the deadly virus that’s infected millions across the world – reared its ugly head and knocked Greater Manchester into a coma from which it’s yet to truly emerge.
Surviving a pandemic has meant huge sacrifices, and this time last year, all our lives were extraordinarily different.
Masks were for labs. ‘Bubbles’ were for Aeros. ‘Top tier’ meant something good. ‘Lockdown’ was a word for zombie movies.
It was a time when you could walk into a public place without pumping hygiene gel on your palms.
A time when you weren’t asked to navigate buildings single-file via a one-way system.
A time when you could order pints without a big plate of food – and any number of friends could join you.
A time when public transport was busy, bars were booming, and music played every single night.
The virus has impacted our region in a bigger way than anyone could have imagined.
But during these past few months of sorrow, frustration, pain, dismay, and just a flicker of hope, a selection of semi-hidden faces stood out from the masked-up crowd.
Here, we look at some of the most talked-about Mancs (both born and honorary) of the year; people with local links who hit the headlines for various reasons during one of the most challenging years on record for Greater Manchester.
During the early stages of the pandemic, the message was focused on rallying around one another. If everyone did their bit, we’d get through this together, the Government declared.
But in April, an irked Health Secretary claimed that one group wasn’t pulling its weight in the fight against the virus.
“I think the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution; take a pay cut and play their part,” Matt Hancock argued.
It was a big statement on a thorny issue – with the roles of elite sportspeople placed under burning spotlight when some were caught breaking lockdown measures.
But as the debate raged on, Manchester United’s 22-year-old striker Marcus Rashford was quietly working with charity FareShare on a campaign to feed children whilst schools were closed.
The footballer had depended on free school meals himself whilst growing up in Wythenshawe, and was desperate to ensure no child would go hungry in the pandemic.
Rashford launched a campaign to get free school meals distributed throughout the summer, which parliament initially pushed aside.
But after long battles, numerous campaigns, and petitions amassing millions of signatures, Rashford’s wish was granted.
His commitment to the cause didn’t stop there, either, as the footballer proceeded to win a £170m COVID winter grant scheme to support vulnerable families and an extension of holiday activities and food programme to 2021.
For his services, Rashford has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester; an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for 2020, Special Recognition at the Pride of Britain Awards, and seemingly a direct line to Number 10 Downing Street.
Murals of his face have been splashed across Manchester – with the youngster turning into one of the biggest role models of modern times.
2020 took too many before their time. But the loss of Tony Morris hit Greater Manchester particularly hard.
Born to Jamaican parents, Morris grew up in foster care on the south coast and became an adopted Manc after settling into the anchor seat at ITV in 2003.
The Granada Reports presenter remained in that chair for 17 years – calmly and professionally sharing the northern news headlines whilst daring to challenge powerful interviewees whenever they set foot in the studio.
For most of us, Morris was the familiar face of tea-time TV news. But to others, he was an inspiration – described as a ‘hero to the black communities in the north’.
A colleague said Morris was “a person that showed us if he can do it, then so can I.”
Morris passed away in August at Bury Hospice after fighting kidney cancer – sparking an outpouring of grief across the region.
He was 57.
Co-anchor Lucy Meacock described him as “one of the most humble, kind and funny people I have ever met, and he would often make me laugh till my sides ached.”
Every politician divides opinion. Greater Manchester’s Mayor is no different.
In the space of one short year, Andy Burnham has been called the ‘King of the North’; ‘the next Labour Party leader’; a ‘grandstander’; and ‘the country’s corona crush’ by Vogue Magazine.
Throughout 2020, the MP has been sporadically showered in both gushing praise and vitriolic criticism.
But there was one moment when Manchester was unanimously behind its Mayor; a scene that made everyone else outside of the M60 sit up and take notice of the man who ran the show up north.
It was October 20. The skies were cloudy and the mood was irate.
After 10 gruelling days locking horns with Boris Johnson over tier regulations, Burnham assembled his GM borough leaders outside the glass doors of Bridgewater Hall and summoned the press.
The conference started typically enough, with the Mayor reflecting on yet another failed meeting with Westminster over agreeing local restrictions.
But the longer it went on, the more the Mayor appeared to swerve off script.
Press were soon left watching an impassioned, rousing speech with the kind of genuine emotion rarely seen in modern politics; a stirring address that grew angrier with every syllable.
“I don’t think it is right to ask people to go into a lockdown, to accept further changes within their lives, without supporting them through all of that,” Burnham roared at reporters, surely amped by supportive shouts of “Go on, Andy!” from passers-by.
He then pledged to his local citizens: “We took this stand for you. We will carry on fighting for you.”
One image from that afternoon even made its way beyond politics and into the meme world – with the Mayor briefly turning away from the cameras to check a news update on Sir Richard Leese’s phone screen and – after learning the government would give Manchester £62 million less than it needed – puffing out his cheeks in exasperation.
In the weeks that followed, the Mayor was inundated with interview requests, made the subject of countless opinion pieces, and even got his very own beer courtesy of local brewers Seven Bro7hers.
He’s been an MP for nearly two decades. But 2020 was without a shadow of doubt Burnham’s biggest year yet.
Back in 1990, Len Grant was a fledgling photographer, searching desperately for something worth shooting in a city that had little to show off.
Aside from a few major landmarks, Manchester was mainly car parks and brownfield sites, so Len decided to snap portraits of the people promising to bring changes to the city in the future – including council members, developers, architects and landowners.
He made contacts and connections, meaning that as soon as the shovels hit the dirt, Len was first on site to document the construction.
For three decades, the Fallowfield photographer snapped away at a city that began to change rapidly beyond recognition. And now these images have been published in all their glory.
In 2020, Len completed the magnificent Regeneration Manchester – a photography project completely unrivalled in scope and depth that captures the region evolving into the metropolis it is today.
The project is a testament to the region quite like no other – a Manc masterpiece thirty years in the making.
After temporarily cancelling sport, COVID proceeded to set up the biggest mismatch of a fight in recent memory: Pitting a powerful Westminster-based Government against a weary northern nightlife scene wobbling on its knees with two hands tied against its back.
Coronavirus has landed blow after blow against the local hospitality sector in 2020, knocking live music and nightclubs out cold whilst leaving pubs to exhaustedly grasp at food menus in a bid to steady themselves and stay open on the ‘pints only with food rule’.
Doors closed and music stopped. But thanks to Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester kept dancing anyway.
Back in April, the region’s The Night Time Economy Adviser launched United We Stream: A platform that turned live shows digital and gave stages to artists, gigs to audiences, and a crucial financial funnel to the nightlife scene.
Lineups featured some of the biggest names in music (including many who played at the Hacienda) and viewers could buy virtual tickets to donate funds to local hospitality.
But aside from bringing together the best musicians in the business for live streams, Lord has also dedicated time to defending the hospitality sector from the government.
Whenever he got a spare moment, the Parklife founder would step in to bat for Manchester on media outlets and Twitter; repeatedly campaigning to local MPs.
But he wasn’t just a keyboard warrior. Far from it.
When Lord wasn’t finding fresh ways to keep music alive in 2020, he was working with solicitors to challenge the government’s regulations and cut the red tape around the hospitality sectors’ doors.
His energy, commitment and passion for live music and the nightlife scene has never once wavered – even in the sector’s most testing year on record.
Without Lord, Manchester’s music would have been on mute for eight long months.
Thousands were introduced to Sarah Lomas via Manctopia – the BBC documentary that aired in summer 2020 about the billion pound property boom taking place in Manchester.
Her appearance was teased throughout the final episode of the series, with an interior designer filmed making preparations to set up Sarah’s penthouse apartment in the luxurious West Tower – one of Britain’s tallest skyscrapers outside London.
Sarah was one of the first people to move into the building, and when she finally popped up on screen, she was revealed to be a born-and-bred Mancunian who’d literally climbed right to the top of the city.
As the CEO of game-changing global health and wellbeing brand REVIV (which has 41 clinics worldwide), Sarah has long been recognised in the corporate arena for her status as an influential and innovative businessperson with exciting ideas (with The North Face founder Hap Klopp joining as non-exec director).
In 2020, as soon as the pandemic hit, Sarah immediately pivoted the company to provide vital support; offering not-for-profit COVID testing in the UK and US on top of intravenous (IV) vitamin hydration and wellness therapy services.
The biggest news to come out of the year overall, however, was HELIIX – REVIV’s new piece of revolutionary COVID management software that is set to keep hundreds of Manchester businesses afloat during the wait for a vaccine.
With REVIV in St Ann’s Square, Manchester is a healthier, safer and even more exciting place to live and work. Sarah has led from the front every single step of the way.
In September, the UK reached what Boris Johnson called a “perilous turning point”.
Coronavirus cases were rising and national morale was falling; with a dreaded second wave starting to wash over the country.
Thankfully, it was around this time we were introduced to Wesley Harnett – a man who managed to cheer everybody up by riding from Manchester to Glasgow on a little pink bicycle.
The father of two lost his grandad to cancer in 2019, and wanted to raise money in a way that would capture the imagination.
He decided to cycle 229 miles up to Scotland on his daughter’s bike and split the donations between Macmillan Cancer Support, Christie Charitable Fund, British Heart Foundation and Wythenshawe Hospital’s MFT Charity – making the whole region smile in the process.
Wesley was hoping to hit £880 before the end of 2020. By December, the pot was spilling over with £9,000.
Not only was it a big achievement; it was some truly wholesome news at a time we definitely needed it.
For all its troubles, 2020 did at least introduce the nation to Captain Sir Tom Moore – the spirited centenarian and war veteran who captured hearts (and won a knighthood) by raising a staggering £32.79 million for the NHS by walking laps of his garden.
But there was another hero from the golden generation who did similarly special work – someone much closer to home here in Manchester.
The 92-year-old has helped hundreds of young offenders get their lives back on track through her community allotment – whilst dedicating her time during the COVID-19 pandemic to supporting the community.
She has run a luncheon club for the elderly and also given up her free time on weekends to help struggling locals get back on their feet.
This year, Dena was rightly recognised for her work – presented with a Pride of Britain award.
It was quite a moment.
“It’s the first time in 30 years I’ve actually cried,” said the grandmother.
“I love working in Moston to support people and am very touched by the award.”
Almost every morning in lockdown, whilst the rest of Stockport slept soundly, Mama Flo was in the kitchen cooking.
Throughout the pandemic, the owner of the eponymous Caribbean restaurant on Buxton Road would rise at 4am and spend hours prepping meals for NHS staff, critical carers, essential/key workers and the most vulnerable.
The chef adopted and embodied a fitting mantra – ‘be kind and share the love’ – which boosted Stockport’s spirits at a particularly tough time.
Residents tried to repay Flo for all her hard work by rushing to honour her on social media during summer – spreading the word about what a difference she was making to the community.
A Facebook post by a local police officer summed it up nicely.
It read: “Flo…you are a hero of your community and we salute you.”
Manchester was wracked with grief last year when the iconic frontman of The Piccadilly Rats passed away.
Ray Boddington was struck by a Metrolink tram in April 2019, and despite being rushed to hospital and placed on life support he tragically succumbed to his injuries aged 77.
For so long, Ray had been part of Manchester’s city centre scenery, and it’s felt like something’s been missing ever since.
But this year, both the frontman and his busking outfit were immortalised in print.
In September, author Martin Green published The Rats Tales: The Extraordinary Life Stories of The Piccadilly Rats – a project that delved deep into the backstory of a beloved local group of musicians who’ve led “colourful lives on society’s margins”.
The book meant that the band received renewed focus and attention during the second half of 2020 – with people beyond Manchester discovering them for the first time.
Losing Ray was painful for the city. But what this year showed is that the love for The Piccadilly Rats is still alive and well.
The steadfast Mancunian spirit was pushed to its absolute limits in 2020. But it prevailed thanks to one particular group of people: The army of superheroes that stood up to fight a new threat to our city whilst we hunkered down in our shelters.
All year, we’ve watched them work. Images of the frontline battle scars – bruised faces, damaged skin, and exhausted eyes – have travelled far and wide, and in a bid to show our gratitude, we’ve applauded from the safety of our doorsteps and cheered them on from our living rooms.
For a fleeting moment, it looked like they might have already won. But sadly, it’s still not quite over yet.
In December, COVID revealed a trick up its sleeve – mutating and spreading all over again just in time for Christmas.
Thousands more nurses, doctors and paramedics have since been thrown back into the trenches to combat a virus that’s attacking the country all over again.
It seems we still have the secret weapon to win the war in the shape of the vaccine. But until everyone gets it, the local frontline is our only form of defence.
Key workers carried us through 2020. And we owe them everything.
The best places to watch the World Cup in Manchester
Kick-off in Qatar 2022 is almost upon us and with Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions looking to bring home a trophy, Mancs are right to be wondering where to watch the World Cup in Manchester.
International tournaments are always a special occasion we eagerly await to come around and while we’re sure you could walk into any old pub and enjoy yourself, there are some seriously good venues showing Qatar 2022 this winter.
So, with that in mind, we thought we’d put together a list of the best places to watch the World Cup in Manchester. You’re welcome.
Where to watch the 2022 World Cup in Manchester
Road to Victory/Festival of Football, Depot Mayfield
Probably one of the most unique venues you could ever hope to watch live football beyond inside the ground itself, Road to Victory is not only Europe’s largest fan zone, boasting a capacity of more than 10,000 people across three rooms and a truly immersive experience.
Set up by AIX Live in Depot Mayfield, this special World Cup event is the first of its kind, promising dynamic audio-visual presentation in big match moments, interactive games and quizzes, as well as all the food and drink you could hope for. Trust us, it’s quite something.
Victoria Warehouse’s Red Square has played host to hordes of United fans for years and now the massive indoor supporter space is turning into one of Manchester’s biggest fan parks for Qatar 2022 as well. You love to see it.
With room for more than 1,000 people and tickets for just £2 a pop, not to mention being more than used to catering for hundreds of rowdy football fans on a regular basis, this place is sure to be bouncing.
The Love Factory, Green Quarter
One of the most exciting new additions to Manchester has landed just in time for the World Cup. The Love Factory has been built inside a huge warehouse on the industrial outskirts of the city, featuring World Cup games on a huge indoor central screen and projectors throughout the venue.
As well as street food from local traders like Ate Days A Week, who’ll create a rotation of pie fillings inspired by each nation competing in the tournament, there’ll also be a huge exhibition of World Cup kits from Classic Football Shirts. You can find out more about Love Factory here.
New Century Hall, NOMA
As one of the newest venues in Manchester city centre, New Century Hall is turning its late-night entertainment venue and 70s aesthetic into one of the coolest places to watch England go for gold.
New Century stretches across three beautiful floors, with a wonderful selection of booze and food traders on the ground floor as well as the large live music and events spaces upstairs. Better still, you’ll have Sadler’s Yard on your doorstep for when the street celebrations start. Find out more here.
Pong & Puck, Great Northern
Looking for somewhere a little more central? Pong & Puck at Great Northern Warehouse might be growing a reputation as one of the best games and activities bars in town but its big projector also makes it a great spot to watch the footy.
The table tennis and beer pong tables will also provide you with a healthy distraction at half-time, not to mention the perfect place to kick the drinking games into gear when we inevitably fly our way through the group stage. You even get a free welcome drink. Say no more, book in now.
Going to an Aussie pub and restaurant to cheer on the boys in an international tournament might sound a bit odd, but Walkabout just happens to be one of the best places in the city centre to watch live sport with pints and plenty of people.
Located in Printworks, the bar is a regular haunt for football fans come the Premier League games at the weekend, so it’s only natural it finds its way onto this list of sports bars showing the World Cup in Manchester. They’ll be showing every game as well, not just England. Pencil yourself in while you can.
You only have to go a few feet (quite literally) to get all the fun of an American-themed sports bar too, only Shooters Bar will be packed full of Brits and not their transatlantic cousins when England face the USA on Friday, 25 November.
Based inside Printwork’s world-famous Bierkeller, Shooters is offering seating from £25 and £35 for VIP, both of which will guarantee you two drinks on arrival and the latter food from the Wings and Wurste menu. This popular sports bar is always packed out, you don’t need us to tell you why.
The Oast House, Spinningfields
One of the jewels in Spinningfields crown, The Oast House is a popular watering hole year-round but even more so during the colder months as the Christmas teepee is erected and you can see the smoke pumping out of the cosy interior’s chimney.
Oast also has the added bonus of a spacious courtyard with a large screen located on the stage, not to mention plenty of coverage and outdoor heaters to keep you warm for this rare winter World Cup. With a festive menu and plenty to drink, what more you could ask for? Walk-ins welcome but booking advised.
Speaking of food and drink, one of the best parts about international football season is doing away with all concepts of dieting and sobriety, so it’s a good job that vendor hall Society is showing every England game this November and December.
Tucked just beneath Bridgewater Hall with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, Society has plenty of variety when it comes to traders and we also can’t wait to see the scenes around that fountain once we romp into the final — and we will. You only need to email to book your table.
Blues Kitchen, Peter Street
While Blues Kitchen might not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about where to watch the World Cup, the multi-floor bar, restaurant, club and live music venue puts on all kinds of events throughout the year, so why wouldn’t they cover the biggest event of the year?
This beautiful building spans multiple floors, with the gig venue able to hold 500 alone, and they’ll be packing the place out with as many tables as they can. Tickets are sold as tables at a rate of £5 per person, making it one of the cheapest places to book in for the tournament.
Probably one of the most frequented places for watching live sport in the city centre, Director’s Box is yet another superb sports bar in a prime central location and nestled around a number of classic Manchester pubs like The Vine Inn and The City Arms.
From their huge value-for-money sharing platters to a solid lineup of beers and screens on nearly every wall, you won’t go for wrong watch the games in the place. However, we will warn you that this place gets packed out quickly, so be sure to secure a spot early come 21 November.
The Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes, Albert Square
We can’t talk about sports bars without mentioning the one and only Brotherhood. Undoubtedly one of the busiest post-work pubs as well as on matchdays, this city centre spot has food, games, beer and more than enough screens to cater to the punters.
Located just next to the Central Library between Albert and St Peter’s Square, this place has a few simple rules: behave yourself and get there early, especially if you want to be part of their World Cup party which is sure to be a belter. You can enquire about a table but it’s first come first serve. Good luck.
This Castlefield cornerstone is another solid choice for football fans, with plenty of screens throughout its various rooms and an outdoor terrace with a projector screen; there are a few private hire spaces for groups of different sizes too.
With bars located inside and outside and plenty of room for walk-ins too if you’ve left it too late to snag a ticket elsewhere, you know where to head come kick-off. It’ll be some part along next that canal. Check out what they have to offer here.
The Waldorf, Piccadilly
As any Manc football fan (especially a Blue) will know, The Waldorf is a gem of a pub for watching the games all year round, and it’s full steam ahead for the World Cup. Just a few yards down from Manchester Piccadilly, even if you’re coming from elsewhere in Greater Manchester, you won’t have far to walk.
It’s not just the England games being screened here either, the local favourite will be showing every match in Qatar 2022. With two floors to pack out, this place if everything you’d want from a proper pub come tournament time. You can book your table here.
Bunny Jackson’s, First Street
For the most atmospheric, unpretentious World Cup viewing experience possible, you need to head to Bunny Jackson’s, the beloved dive bar famed for its 20p wings, plenty of pints and bar staff who are more likely to suggest shots than you are.
The First Street institution will be showing the games on the big screen tucked in the corner of the room with plenty of space for people on both floors to watch. The sounds in this place will be as well at full tilt volume from minute one. They don’t do bookings at this gaff, just get yourself there early.
BOX Deansgate, Deansgate
Open for just over a year now, BOX bar has gone from one of the newest places on the Deansgate strip to an absolute cornerstone of matchdays and weekends in general. From beer and shuffleboard to steins of pornstar martinis and live music, this place has a bit of everything.
With the jumbotron-style screen in the middle, not to mention all the other screens covering nearly every inch of the place, there’s no chance you’ll miss even a second of the action in this American-style sports bar. Get booking now if you want to sort yourself the best seat in the house.
The Courtyard, Oxford Road corridor
There are few simpler pleasures a bar with cheap beer and cheap food, so whether your student days are behind you or not, The Courtyard has to be on this list — even if only to remember all the other times we’ve watched the footy there down the years.
Of course, this place will be packed out as per, but with loads of deals on drinks, pool tables and a large beer garden area out back ready for when ‘Three Lions’ starts playing, Courtyard will be bouncing whether you’re there or not.
Gasworks, First Street
Another cult-favourite along the First Street/Jack Rosenthal Street run of venues, Gasworks has never been a sports bar per se but following the scenes during the men’s and women’s Euros these past two years, for our money, this is one of the best places to watch World Cup in Manchester city centre.
With a big projector; large booths and long benches for you and your mates to crowd around as you watch the games, eat various buns, sarnies and slabs, not to mention sample their sizeable selection of craft beer and ales, you won’t find much to complain about here.
Canvas, Circle Square
Another one of Manchester’s newest additions, the Canvas event space which recently opened up on Oxford Road’s ever-growing Circle Square complex might just be one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to places to watch the World Cup. Well, until that is.
The bar, entertainment and live music venue will be screening a selection of games throughout November and December, and there are even promising exclusive performances from the likes of Confidence Man, Happy Mondays, Liam Fray and more throughout the tournament.
Tib Street Tavern, Northern Quarter
Heading over Northern Quarter way, Tib Street Tavern is one of our favourite places to watch sport in Manchester, and that’s saying something. Cocktails, burgers and hot dogs don’t hurt either. With absolutely massive screens that fill the walls, it’s no wonder you’ll find hundreds of punters in here evet weekend.
Their booths may already be booked out for England’s first game against Iran, but there’ll still be plenty of room for walk-ins on a first come first serve basis and there’s always the next game. Just give them a ring and try your look.
Sir Ralph Abercromby, Central
Probably one of the best and most historic football-loving pubs you’ll find anywhere in the centre of town, the Sir Ralph Abercromby is a favourite of United fans and with the combination of a traditional pub setting and modern outdoor viewing area, you can’t go wrong.
In addition to multiple screens dotted around the marquee-covered beer garden, you have plenty of tellies inside and a big projector room in the back room. It’s a no-frills boozer this one, just get there in time to find yourself a seat and despite the cold, that outdoor area will be as lively as ever.
The Old Nags Head, Central
From one beloved United haunt to another. It may be the go-to pub for top Reds year in, year out, but come international tournament time we’re all on the same side and this place packs out all the same — and there are three floors, so that’s saying something.
The downstairs delivers plenty of screens, a large bar serving from all directions and karaoke; there are more seats upstairs and you’ve also got the wonderful rooftop terrace to chant ‘it’s coming home’ across the city come full-time. This place is dripping in football heritage just like the Ralph.
Brickhouse Social/Kable, Oxford Road corridor
From the old school to the new, Brickhouse Social on New Wakefield Street is another venue that hasn’t been around that long but is already building a strong customer base and is now turning its hand to the 2022 World Cup.
Turning the attached Kable Club in the basement of this three-floor site into their very own fan zone, Brickhouse are selling off tickets and a free drink for just a fiver. Spots for the England vs Iran game have already flown out the window so grab yours for the USA group game on 25 November while you can.
Twenty Twenty Two, Northern Quarter
Looking for a basement vibe for your World Cup vibes this year? Twenty Twenty Two might be underground but they intend to take the roof off the place when Harry Kane scores a last-minute winner or Tripper fires in another a peach of free-kick.
Best known for its table tennis and beer pong tournaments, this late-night party bar is opening early for England’s first game on Monday, 21 November and will be showing every other match for that matter. Once again, only walk-ins for this one, just be early and count yourself lucky if you grab a seat.
JBs is another top contender when it comes to places to watch the World Cup in Manchester as not only do you get great food and drink in a top venue, but you’ve also got brand new projectors, screens upstairs and down, as well their Void sound system — perfect for bringing that big game atmosphere
Whether you cop the cheaper standing tickets with two drink tokens or opt for the very reasonable table package which includes guaranteed seats, two drinks each and a sharing platter, everyone gets the all-important big screen as well as DJ playing at half-time and after the. Nothing less than a good time.
ABC Taproom, Piccadilly
Back over near Mayfield, we’ve got another suggestion that you may not have considered until now: ABC Taproom. The on-site taproom of the Alphabet Brewing Company has hosted plenty of live music and comedy nights since it opened back in 2021, now they’re turning their hand to live football screenings.
They have recently installed a huge 200-inch 4K screen to show every England game over the next month or so and will even be introducing a special line of carefully crafted World Cup beers to celebrate the tournament. It may be a little bit out of the centre of town but it’s well worth a try for a game or two.
Back in NQ territory, The Pen and Pencil is not only a favourite place for Mancs to eat and drink but for anyone who’s been in on a matchday, the pub quiz on Tuesdays or pre-gig shows throughout the week, you’ll know the punter vibes here are just as good as any pub.
While booking is recommended for those who want to grab a seat and some grub, there will be space for walk-ins on the day and, best of all, it’s 50% off food every Monday — just in time for your dinner (lunch for any southerners) when England kick-off their group stage.
Second City, Ancoats
Travelling just down the road in Ancoats, the beloved Second City sports bar may have moved to a slightly smaller location just off Cutting Room Square but they’ve carried the same atmosphere into their new building.
This place shows all kinds of sports throughout the week and on screens of all sizes dotted around the place – the biggest being its premier 136-inch screen. There’s no chance you’re missing a glimpse of the Three Lions flying their way through the fixtures.
7Sins, Northern Quarter
The penultimate bar on our list of places showing the World Cup in Manny is none other than NQ’s 7Sins. While you might know it as a place to play retro video games, shuffleboard and pool, these lot aren’t missing a beat and they doing their bit to give Mancs another location to watch the England games.
For wondering how they’re managing it, they’ve recently had (you guessed it) seven different screens fitted along with their big projector screen to go along with their various arcade machines and bar activities. You can book via the website or email them with any enquiries.
Boom Battle Bar, Printworks
Last but not least is another offering from the Printworks as Boom Battle Bar is benching its activity and gaming bar theme to focus on the World Cup, at least for the duration of the games anyway. We felt we had to include this one not only because we like it but because they have a special promotion on too.
The chain is giving away 66 free pints of beer to select England fans who utter the right phrase — ‘‘It’s coming home and I want a free pint’ — at the bar an hour before kick-off. They’ll be first come first serve and you have to book a table to be eligible but hey, there’s no moaning when it comes to free beer.
Now, we obviously could have chucked dozens more mint Manchester bars and pubs on this list but we had to stop otherwise we’d go on forever. However, you’ve got more than plenty to be going on with for now.
Lastly, it goes without saying that besides finding places to watch the World Cup in Manchester, Qatar 2022 is a tournament that we’d rather every nation have boycotted this year and while we will always back the Three Lions, we can only hope that team taking part make a statement when they’re over there.
Qatar has been described by Human Rights Watch as having a “dismal human rights record”, and has shown discriminatory practices against women, the LGBTQ+ community, and migrant workers.
We’d love to see the boys bring football home, but we want the beautiful game to be for everyone more.
Featured Image — Love Factory/Road to Victory (supplied)
The best food and drink stalls at Manchester Christmas Markets 2022
Gluhwein, Bavarian beer and big fat German bratwursts in numerous flavours have returned to Manchester today as the Christmas Markets officially open in the city centre.
Running from Thursday 10 November until Thursday 22 December, central Manchester is now a maze of charming wooden huts selling everything from classic wintry drinks, to cheese-filled and curried sausages, alongside some new additions that celebrate the best of the local street food scene.
From the likes of mulled wine and hot, boozy cider, to steaming mugs of Italian Vin Boule, Nordic Glocc and French Vin Chaud, cheeky hot Vimto (Rumto or Ginto), Manchester blob and more, as ever there’s plenty to get excited about.
Some of the city’s restauranteurs are getting involved this year too, with the likes of Simon Shaw’s Habas setting up a Moroccan-inspired stall on King Street and Northern Quarter favourite Yard & Coop slinging out chicken trays on St Ann’s Square.
Elsewhere, you’ll find
Keep reading to discover all of the best food and drink stalls at Manchester’s Christmas markets this year.
Piccadilly Gardens – Winter Gardens
Bigger and better than ever this year, Piccadilly Gardens has once again been transformed into the market’s main festive hub for the season.
Featuring a new giant Nordic-style double tipi and eye-catching WIndmilll bar, as well as three separate areas full of different food and drink stalls, highlights include new stalls from local favourites Parmageddon and Oi Dumplings.
Winter Gardens also sees the return of 2021 hit trader Panc Foods, who wowed vegans and meat eaters alike last year with their plant-based bratwursts and burgers, as well as the popular Korean hot dog stall and bagels from Prestwich favourites Triple B (including a fried camembert version with red onion chutney and stilton mayo).
With more stalls serving up pancakes, churros, and an array of winter tipples, you’ll find two huge bars serving continental and foreign ales, as well as a host of different mixers, cocktails, and all the beers, gluhwein and hot chocolates your heart desires.
There’s also a huge Manchester Winter Ale House selling cask ales from local breweries like JW Lees, alongside hot drinks like boozy Vimto (made with gin or rum), and ‘Manchester’s legendary Hot Blobs’, which we’re told are a mix of sweet white wine, sugar, lemon, and hot water.
Old favourites the Pig and Barrel also make a welcome return to the Winter Gardens offering up their delicious pork barms and cosy seating area, whilst elsewhere you’ll find a new ‘dirty chicken’ stall, pancake house, ‘Rogue’ pizza bar, Japanese apres ski bar and a little Polish bakery selling cheesecake and apple pie.
St Ann’s Square and Exchange Street
St Ann’s Square- the original site for Manchester’s Christmas markets- returns with its large undercover bar providing German beers and warm cherry Gluhwein to keep Christmas revellers warm and merry throughout the winter season.
Also playing host to some of Manchester’s best local traders this year, you’ll find Northern Quarter foodie favourites Yard and Coop serving up their salt and pepper chicken trays alongside award-winning local favourites Great North Pie, and Manc and Proud serving up Mancunian-themed everything.
Elsewhere, you’ll find fresh authentic paella and tapas, square pizzas, continental chocolates and a range of English cheeses priced at just £3 each in flavours including the magnificent ‘chip shop curry’.
There are also Biscoff cookie pies, cookie and cream fudge puds disguised as Christmas puddings, chocolate orange slabs and giant marshmallow Christmas trees to discover.
There’s not much to report here food-wise, with the majority of stalls focusing on selling gifts and other crafty trinkets.
We did spy a massive stall selling pick and mix, though, for those who haven’t yet got over the closure of Woolworth’s, as well as a spiced rum stall and a few gift sets of cheese truckles.
Home to some of the best food stall in Manchester, the Christmas deli stalls on King Street takes foodies on a world tour of some of the best-loved dishes on the planet.
The amazing Italian cheese and meat stall returns, piled high with giant wheels of parmigiano, gorgonzola, goat cheese, pecorino and taleggio, plus a huge variety of salami and smoked bacon pancetta, with giant hams hanging above ready to be sliced to order on a custom machine.
As for ready-to-eat street food, you’ll find everything from squid ink arancini balls and gorgeous Sicilian cannoli, to Greek gyros and halloumi fries, French garlic mushrooms and mustard chicken, baklava, olives, marinated garlic cloves and local rum made right across the river in Salford.
Elsewhere, restaurant Habas, part of the El Gato Negro group, has a full outdoor set up serving dishes from its Moroccan-inspired menu including the likes of chicken and vegetable tagine with spiced rice and mini pittas, chargrilled lamb merguez burger.
There’s also a gin and mulled wine bar selling a huge variety of G&Ts with premium bottles like Gin Mare on offer, and a second beer and mulled wine bar at the Deansgate end with everything you need to get merry.
New Cathedral Street
On New Cathedral Street, the longstanding home of the big sausage, find stalls selling old-fashioned liquorice and handmade cocktails to drink at home, alongside hot street food stalls offering everything from vegan 5 bean chilli to New York Bagels.
Elsewhere, you’ll find Bar 3’s famous Instagram-worthy smoking cocktails, mulled wine and craft beers, and traditional steins and mouth-watering currywurst at The Witchouse.
Over on Exchange Square, you can warm up at the instantly recognisable Mill Exchange bar, with their special Mancunian mulled wine made on-site and its legends of Manchester artwork adorning its walls.
2022 also sees the return of the famous Porky Pig’s Yorkshire Pudding Wrap, alongside stalls selling hot curries, mini pancakes, fresh fudge, hand-carved olivewood decorations, German kebabs, and gourmet Italian pizza.
The Corn Exchange
Set between Manchester’s historic Corn Exchange building and Shambles Square, visitors can expect to find a pie stall from The Crusty Pie Company selling every filling variation you can think of – from pork and black pudding to Hunstmans pies, chicken and leek, wild boar and mushroom, turkey and cranberry, and chicken and chestnut stuffing pies. You can also find bags of traditional pork scratchings from £2.
Elsewhere, Jammy Dodger-loaded cupcakes, Nutella-topped confections, and more covered with pick and mix sweeties, chocolate Oreos, and golden pretzels can be found at Zara’s Cupcakes market stall, and there’s another English cheese stall selling flavours like ‘chip shop curry’, ‘stuffing’ and ‘fiery dragon’ from £3 each.
Opening Saturday 22 October in time for half term and Halloween, the much-loved undercover ice rink Skate MCR is back with entertainment each Thursday to Sunday all the way through to New Year’s Eve.
Next to the ice rink, hot food, warm drinks, pancakes and tipples will be on offer from nearby market stalls to help warm up cold hands and feet after a skate on the ice.