A revolutionary international food market, arts showcase and festival space is set to open at Manchester’s Mayfield Depot later this year.
Located on Baring Street, ‘Escape to Freight Island’ is part of the £1.4bn regeneration of the forgotten freight railway into a world-class neighbourhood and district – offering an array of “food, drink, music, immersive entertainment and family-focused happenings.”
Organisers have described their dream to create “an international destination akin to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Coney Island in New York and Grand Central Market in Los Angeles”.
Escape to Freight Island will apparently be home to a number of different bars, restaurants, food trucks, as well as a 70s New York-inspired roller disco, hidden high-fi audio bar (which will transform into a karaoke venue called Queen Samantha’s) and a retro arcade games corridor.
There will also be a diverse ticketed events programme, with free festival-calibre entertainment 12 hours a day.
Escape to Freight Island opens in July 2020 with a limited 600-capacity first phase, expanding to welcome 2,500 people later in the year.
The first area to be launched is ‘Platform 15’, “a tip of the cap to neighbouring Piccadilly Station and a place for people to be together, safely and responsibly.”
Among the first traders on board are Madre, with its own non-traditional, upscaled, ingredient-driven taco, and Voodoo Ray’s Pizza following success in Peckham and Dalston.
A favourite of renowned restaurant critic Jay Rayner, Ramsbottom’s pioneering Baratxuri will hold court in the outside space, with a wood-fired ‘Asador’ grill, roasting large cuts of meat and whole fish.
Camden Town Brewery is also hosting a boutique craft ale bar in partnership with Salford’s Pomona Island brewery, alongside a cocktail space from the team at Ancoats bar The Jane Eyre.
The entire venue will be “soundtracked by a selection of music” from the likes of Homoelectric, We Out Here festival, Festival N°6, Love International and other iconic musical curators.
The launch of phase two is planned for August, with Escape to Freight Island adding specially-curated food and drink offerings as capacity increases.
Escape to Freight island is the brainchild of Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey of Volta, Electrik Bar and The Refuge, Gareth Cooper of Festival N°6, event production veteran Jon Drape of Engine No. 4 and Managing Director Dan Morris – who launched leading Manchester music venues Gorilla and the Albert Hall.
Electriks’ Luke Cowdrey, co-curator, said: “Escape to Freight Island isn’t your average food market. It’s a new and unique destination in Manchester, it is the next evolution in the food market sector that will fill a hole in the life of our city.
He continued: “Platform 15 will give a flavour of what is to come when we launch the full Escape to Freight Island experience, so let’s all meet at Platform 15 to begin our escape to freedom.”
James Heather, development director at U+I for the Mayfield Partnership, said: “Mayfield has over the last three years been re-established in the hearts and minds of both Mancunians and visitors to our city as an outstanding location for culture and entertainment.
“With Escape to Freight Island, our partners at Broadwick Venues have assembled an amazing line-up of operators, brands and innovators which will take this to the next level.
“This is an exciting new chapter in Mayfield’s regeneration story and one which raises the bar further still for our city’s visitor offering, underlining our vision for Mayfield as Manchester’s true commercial, creative and cultural nexus.”
Bookings will be open next week. To get 24 hour advance notice for tables, join the community on the Escape to Freight Island website.
Table slots of three hours will be pre-booked from Thursday to Sunday, running from midday to midnight.