The maddest Manchester news stories of 2023, from viral tiramisu to a football stadium with a daft name

It's been another wild year - well done on surviving everyone.

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 29th December 2023

No one could ever accuse Manchester of being boring, and this year’s news cycle has more than lived up to expectations.

It’s been a year of fighting over cakes, walruses pleasuring themselves in front of children, criminals exposing themselves in silly ways, and celebrities working shifts in takeaways.

There’s been viral puddings, knock-off corner shops, and torrential rain.

We’ve had silly news, far-fetched news, and news that can make our city genuinely very proud.

We’ve spent a few hours looking back on the Manchester news stories that got you all talking in 2023 – and as depressing as your energy bill or GP waiting list may be, at least we’ve had a few laughs along the way.


Tough Sheet

Bolton Wanderers Toughsheet Stadium unveiled
Bolton Wanderers’ new stadium name was one of Manchester’s favourite news stories of 2023

“We need to rename the stadium.”

“What, again?”


“Yeah, I know, again. I think we should come up with something really left-field this time. Something that will generate some headlines.”

“I’ve got just the sponsor boss.”

This, we imagine, is how the board meeting went when the home ground of Bolton Wanderers F.C. went through yet another rebrand this year, when it decided to change its name to the… Toughsheet Stadium.


Social media had a field day over this one – have a look here.


When a local baker took a passive-aggressive email thread public, she probably didn’t expect to generate quite so much online debate.

But the Three Little Birds Bakery’s response to a PR request for 100 free cakes for a ‘celebrity client’ was so sassy it went incredibly viral.

She’d written: “Unfortunately as my mortgage provider doesn’t take payment ‘in the form of promotion on the socials’, and my staff can’t feed their kids with exposure on Instagram, I’ll have to decline your very generous offer” – round. of. applause.

The celebrity behind the request willingly came forward, with Corrie queen Catherine Tyldesley saying the whole situation was ‘utterly bizarre’.


A crime-fighting ham sandwich

The incriminating can of Stella, along with the ham sandwich photo, that led to the gang's collapse.
The incriminating can of Stella, along with the ham sandwich photo, that led to the gang’s collapse. Credit: Lancashire Police

Richard probably didn’t think twice before sending a photo of his lunch – a ham sandwich on brown bread – to his pal, also called Richard.

But the harmless exchange between Dick and Dick led to the downfall of an entire drugs gang.

The pair had been using what was at the time an encrypted, secure instant messaging service, but once law enforcement teams cracked the company’s encryption they were able to prove the identities of ‘Somesnail and Peppershirt’.

Officers used pictures of a ham sandwich and a can of lager, the backgrounds being matched to one of the criminal’s address in Blackpool. Busted.

Read the full story here.


Thor the w*nking walrus


Northerners were absolutely delighted when a walrus chose the British coastline to chill out in over New Year’s Eve, with hundreds flocking to see the magnificent beast.

But slightly-overweight Thor soon proved to be a bit of a problematic beast, and was seen to be *ahem* pleasuring himself in front of a family-filled audience. Blimey.

His little holiday in Scarborough even led to the local New Year’s Eve fireworks display being cancelled, after the British Divers Marine Life Rescue advised that the loud noises could ‘distress’ the walrus. Surely not as distressing as the sight of him rubbing himself with his flippers lads!?

The name’s Bondy

Kieran Bond

“How will we know we’ve caught the right man, officer, does he have any identifying features?” Erm… yeah he does a bit.


A police manhunt at the very turn of the new year went viral after officers admitted they’d been unable to locate a man who’d missed his court appearance.

And the man who’d slipped past police wasn’t exactly hard to pick out in a line-up – he’d tattooed his own name on his face.

Not the smartest move for someone taking on a life of crime.


We really expected this to be the next edition of Colin the caterpillar-style lawsuit fun times, but so far, this blatant Morrisons rip-off is sailing under the radar.

A new mini-mart opened near Printworks in July, selling your usual selection of innumerable flavours of Fanta and other soft drinks.


But what really got people in Manchester talking is the copycat store’s signage, which looks exactly like the real deal – except for an ‘a’ in the sign where an ‘o’ should be.

The room where fights happen

The arrival of Hamilton to Manchester – its first-ever UK tour – was bound to cause a bit of a stir, but no one predicted that people would be throwing hands over it.

And yet police had to launch an investigation after a fight broke out between theatregoers during a performance of Hamilton at the Palace Theatre.

Apparently staff at the theatre were having to physically restrain the two who’d decided to start fisticuffs in the crowd.

And it wasn’t the only rowdy audience we dealt with this year – also hitting the news in Manchester in 2023 was when people had to be removed from The Bodyguard for singing along too loudly. Stay classy, Manchester.


Florence Pugh’s tiramisu

We all know that odd stuff goes viral sometimes, but we did not expect a local restaurant’s pudding to reach all the way to Hollywood’s a-list darling Florence Pugh.

Onda’s tiramisu drawer went so incredibly viral that it was viewed tens of millions of time, shared by Florence Pugh herself, and drove so many restaurant bookings that you now can’t reserve a table at Onda until spring.

It’s the second time an unexpected celeb raved about our local food and drink scene too – Lizzo lost her mind over Gooey’s hash browns when she was in town.


Nope, not the African Grey, but the world’s most famous fashion house.

If you’d told us last year that the entire Northern Quarter would be brought to a standstill so that a high-fashion Chanel show could parade down Thomas Street, we’d have laughed you into the new year.


But it really did happen, with celebs including Hugh Grant, Kristen Stewart and Aitch in attendance, fleets of black-out vans whizzing around town, paparazzi everywhere, and the eyes of the world on our city.

The Northern Quarter looked incredible through the eyes of Chanel and we should all be very proud that the city was chosen to host the Metiers D’art, honestly.

Music stars getting new jobs

Times are tough out there but who knew that even the celebs were struggling to the point that they needed to get side-hustles as delivery drivers?

Twice this year we caught famous faces handing out fast food to the masses, from rising star rapper Aitch flipping burgers for McDonald’s to Bez from the Happy Mondays delivering tiffins for Zouk.

Aitch was notably polite while working his Maccies shift, and was seen chatting to customers as they came up to the van, saying: “here you go Sir, there you go Sir,” before pausing for a photograph with the McDonald’s team. What a nice lad.


Manchester weather was WEATHERING

We know our weather isn’t famed for being good, but Manchester weather really turned on the chaos this summer.

It was properly miserable for weeks on end and caused a fair amount of upheaval for events that took place in 2023.

While Parklife festival started off in blazing sunshine, the whole festival had to be halted on the second day because of a pretty dramatic electrical storm – people were spotted sticking cardboard boxes over their heads to try and stay dry.

And then the rain was so torrential over Bluedot weekend that they had to close off all the entry and exit points, cancelling the festival for day ticket holders. The ground is so knackered from it, Bluedot’s having to take this year off to recover.

Even Manchester Pride couldn’t avoid the deluge this year.


Blackpool Tower’s not on fire

We thought we’d made it to the end of 2023 without any more mad news, but then along came Blackpool Tower, gripping Manchester again.

The iconic seaside landmark caught fire on 28 December – except it turns out it wasn’t on fire at all and we’d all just been fooled by a bit of orange netting flapping in the breeze.

That’s not before an entire emergency services team was called out and people evacuated from the area though.


Featured image: The Manc Group