There aren’t many places in Greater Manchester that sum up the city’s rapid growth quite like Deansgate and Castlefield.
The southern side of the city centre is simultaneously home to our oldest relics as well as our newest developments, with ancient Roman forts rubbing shoulders with our tallest, most luxurious buildings.
It’s faced rapid redevelopment over the years, leading to some incredible new cultural institutions, restaurants and bars, and residential developments.
From strolls along the cobbled canals to nights out with 20p chicken wings to high-brow theatre to phenomenal meals, there’s a lot going on here.
Here’s our guide to Deansgate and Castlefield, a vibrant corner of Manchester city centre.
Food and drink
The Wharf Pub – This purpose-built Castlefield pub offers an oasis in the heart of the city centre. A hop, skip and a jump from the bustle of Deansgate, head down for proper ales, a great gin selection and some of the finest roasts in the city.
Hawksmoor – Not just home to one of the best steakhouses in the city, Hawksmoor also boasts an amazing New York-inspired cocktail bar serving its own food menu alongside perfect martinis, gimlets, mudslides and more.
Federal Cafe Bar – This antipodean coffee shop is known for serving some of the best brunch dishes in the city and regularly has a queue out of the door. It also has a no laptop rule, so be warned – this is not the place to turn up to do a spot of work. Dine and dash only.
Platzki – This brilliant Polish eatery serves an ever-changing menu of authentic dishes ranging from traditional breakfasts to handmade dumplings, pork neck and meatballs.
Siam Smiles – For seriously good Thai food, look no further than Siam Smiles. Having first begun life as a little cafe inside a Chinatown supermarket, it now sits up on Deansgate Mews serving popular dishes like stir-fried chicken Pad Ka Paow and KuiiTiwe Moo Nam Tok. Trust us, you can’t go wrong here.
City Road Inn – This charming turreted boozer sits at the end of Deansgate Locks and dates back to 1898. Whilst it looks big from the outside, in fact, there are just two rooms inside and the decor is rustic throughout, with bare wooden beams, and large murals on the walls.
Katsouri’s Deli – A lunchtime go-to for any office workers within a mile radius of Deansgate, Katsouri’s Deli can be relied on for delicious ciabatta sandwiches, a hot carvery, paella, breakfast and more. It also has a great sandwich bar and deli counter, just to make your decision even harder.
El Rincon De Rafa – This backstreet tapas bar can be found just off the beaten path of Deansgate serving popular Spanish plates like boquerones, chorizo in red wine, patatas bravas, deep-fried olives and more. Tucked underground, it has a rustic charm all of its own.
Rosa’s Thai Cafe – This bright and airy Thai cafe is part of a chain that first began life in London’s bustling Spitalfields district. Opened in Manchester in 2020, dig into a host of flavourful dishes served on colourful plates in a welcoming, stylish space.
Go Falafel – Another great lunchtime spot, Go Falafel basically just serves falafels – as the name suggests. Enjoy yours in a wrap with optional hummus, pickled cabbage, tahini, chilli oil and salad, or on top of a salad bowl. It makes its own juices too, also delicious in their own right.
Gaucho – Whilst Hawksmoor is the undisputed king of dry-aged steaks, if you prefer yours wet-aged then Argentinian steakhouse Gaucho is the place to be. So soft you can cut through it with a butter knife, it also has its own vineyards and offers some unparalleled wines.
Deansgate Square – A new development of glass towers sitting on the edge of Deansgate and Castlefield, here you’ll find a collection of swanky spots to eat and drink, including sushi restaurant Kitten, Southern Italian eatery and deli Salvi’s and high-end cocktail bar Atomeca.
Jimmy’s Killer Prawns – Bringing trap kitchen-style dining to Castlefield, if you’re a fan of shellfish then you need to give Jimmy’s Killer Prawns a visit. Think a mountain of fifty grilled and marinated prawns, seafood platters of king crab, fish, calamari, rice and chips, and so much more. We’re obsessed.
Dimitri’s – A fixture in Manchester for over thirty years, this family-run Greek restaurant serves up all the classics: from mains like moussaka and stifado to grilled halloumi, vine leaves and minted lamb kebabs. If you like a bit of traditional Greek food, it’s definitely one for the list.
Don Marco – A charming old-school Italian restaurant in the very best sense, Don Marco also boasts a gorgeous outdoor terrace that makes it a wonderful spot for al fresco dining.
Sapporo Tepanyaki – Offering diners a bit of theatre with their dinner, meals are cooked in the traditional tepanyaki style – over a hot grill in the centre of your table, with plenty of fire thrown in for good measure.
The Oxnoble – A snug Castlefield pub just a stone’s throw from the Science and Industry Museum, it was first established in 1804 and pub derives its name from a Georgian variety of potato. A great place to watch the football, it also has bedrooms upstairs for those looking for a place to crash at the end of the night.
The Fish Hut – For lovers of fish and chips, The Fish Hut is definitely one to visit. Serving all the classics (think good fried fish, fish & chips and battered sausages) it’s pretty much always busy – a testament to its quality.
The Banyan Tree – This independent familyrun neighbourhood restaurant and bar offers an all-day menu and funky settings with booth seats and contemporary decor.
Dukes 92 – Set in a former stable block, this grill restaurant and bar is a go-to in the summer for drinks thanks to its suntrap balcony and outdoor terrace.
Albert’s Shed – Housed on the site of a former tool shed, this modern bar and restaurant boasts a huge canopied glass terrace overlooking the water in Castlefield. It is a popular spot for drinks in the summer.
Evuna – This Spanish wine bar and tapas restaurant has a cosy feel with high tables, low lighting and exposed bricks, and is known for its speciality salt-baked sea bass.
Nightlife and hotels
Of course, when many people think of Deansgate their minds will conjur up one image in particular – that of Beetham Tower looming over the city.
The iconic skyscraper is home to the 23-story Hilton Manchester Hotel, with floor-to-ceiling windows, and a health centre with a pool and sauna.
There’s also the newer Innside by Melia on First Street, and just a stone’s throw away is the legendary Midland Hotel, one of Manchester’s finest pieces of architecture and accommodation offerings.
When it comes to nightlife, there is of course the strip of canal-side bars along Deansgate Locks, where the likes of Lola Lo, Revolution and El Diablo serve up cheap drinks and party vibes until dawn.
It’s got such a reputation that even global rising star Olivia Rodrigo popped down after her gig in Manchester and hopped up on stage to sing with the house band.
Newly-reopened is The Deansgate, an iconic pub (especially at this time of year when it’s draped in festive fairy lights) that many feared had shut for good during lockdown.
But lo, it’s back open now, with bars and cosy snugs spreading across three floors, plus TWO rooftop terraces, and a programme of events to come.
Those who enjoy a bit of competitive gaming can’t go wrong with Junkyard Golf, where glowing neon graffiti illuminate mini golf courses that weave over scrap metal, emptied-out cars, and even slides carrying you between holes.
Another local gem in this part of town is Lock 91, a former lock-keeper’s cottage turned into a bar and event space, with a canal-side terrace.
And Atlas Bar just across the road has one of the largest gin collections in the city, a variety so large it has to list its gin menu online (we’re talking 500+ bottles).
With a suntrap outdoor terrace perfect for the warmer months, plus other drinks for those who don’t care for gin, this is a great boozer.
In the Deansgate Castlefield area, you’ll find some of the city’s top cultural and tourist attractions, from theatres to museums to historic sites.
There’s the newly-redeveloped Castlefield Viaduct, which the National Trust has taken from abandoned industrial landmark to urban sky park, much like New York City’s Skyline.
Just beneath that are the remains of the roman fort Mamucium, much of which was flattened to make way for development during the Industrial Revolution.
What’s left is now part of the Castlefield Urban Heritage Park, and visitors can see a section of the fort’s wall along with its gatehouse, granaries, and other ancillary buildings.
Just down the road from here you’ll find the Science and Industry Museum, one of Manchester’s best-loved cultural institutions where you can learn about our city’s industrial past as well as scientific breakthroughs and get a glimpse into the future of technology.
It will soon have a new cultural neighbour in the shape of Factory International too, an enormous, world-first arts venue from the team behind Manchester International Festival.
The massive, spaceship-like structure is set to open in June 2023, but revealed details of its first major event this week.
In the super-shiny skyscraper village that is Deansgate Square sits a surprising urban jungle, where vines crawl down the windows and palms tickle your face as you walk through.
This is Flourish’s biggest site yet (most of us will know their hole-in-the-wall florist on the side of the old Debenhams building) and it’s beautiful.
You can buy house plants, pots, flowers and everything else you need to turn your home into a lush paradise.
Deansgate Square is also hone to the most futuristic branch of the General Stores family, described as Manchester’s coolest cornershops.
Up on Deansgate, Futon is a gem for buying furniture at rock-bottom prices, and you can’t walk past the Great Northern without nipping in to buy some homemade chocolate from Dormouse or a pile of cake from Alex’s Bakery.
Yeah, this is an expensive corner of Greater Manchester, no two ways about it – that’s hardly surprising when you factor in all the good stuff going on here outlined above.
The average property price around Deansgate and Castlefield this year was £320,173 (ouch), the majority of which were, predictably, flats.
Three-bedroom apartments in the Deansgate Square towers sell for around £855,000, and rents go up to £8,125 a month for a penthouse as lavish as this.
Rental prices drop down closer to £1000 when you look along City Road East’s smaller blocks, and the red-bricked Castle Quay development is one of Manchester’s most sought-after apartment blocks – check out this two-bed beauty for £2,100.
Deansgate and Castlefield are among the most well-connected locations in the entire region.
There are tram stops at both Deansgate-Castlefield itself (directly above Deansgate Locks) and at Cornbrook, which both connect the area to the rest of the region along the Metrolink network.
There’s also Deansgate train station here, with regular services to the airport, Liverpool, Blackpool and parts of Cheshire.
It’s right off the ring road too, so if you drive you’re never too far from the quickest route around town.
Featured image: The Manc Group
Alternative Christmas Markets to drink, shop and eat at if you can’t stand the main Manchester ones
The Manchester Christmas Markets are the stuff of legend, drawing thousands to the city every winter – but for those of us who live here 365 days a year, they can be A Bit Much.
There are loads of smaller Christmas markets taking place around the region over the coming weeks, offering a much less stressful alternative to the main event.
While the Manchester Christmas Markets have had a big push to include more local indies in its line-up – just look at all this brilliant food and drink – the following spots are packed to the brim with independent businesses and nothing else.
Time to get your Christmas shopping on.
The best alternative Christmas markets in Manchester
Merry Kampus at Kampus
Manchester’s leafy little canal-side apartment neighbourhood near Piccadilly has got a ‘one-stop-Christmas-shop’ running through to the weekend just before Christmas.
The plan is to showcase the best Manc-made presents, with a cosy festive den in The Bungalow operated by the Flat Baker and Ancoats Pop-Up selling gifts and baked treats.
The shop will sell candles and melts, jewellery and ceramics, prints and calendars, vintage clothes and locally brewed beer
The takeover will also include a schedule of weekly workshops and masterclasses, including upcycling, cocktail making, macrame, and embroidery.
The shop will be open 8am-4pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and 10am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays until 18 December – find out more about Merry Kampus here.
Another alternative Christmas Market, again from Ancoats Pop Up, has taken shape in Canton House on Princess Street, right on the edge of Chinatown.
It’s the biggest (and indeed only) indoor Christmas market with more than 50 independent bakers, makers and artists involved.
There’ll be local creatives selling their goodies, a children’s play area, entertainment and a cafe, spread across two floors.
You can find it in the Yang Sing site, open 11am-4pm on 3, 4, 10, 17 and 18 December.
You know what makes Christmas shopping more bearable? Doing it with a pint and a slice of pizza in your hand.
There’ll be a carefully curated selection of Manchester’s coolest indie makers taking over the Pink Room for a one-day mini market.
All the businesses involved are female-owned – you’ll find prop maker and artist Mariel Osborn, clothing brand Grey Milk, sustainable jewellery from SKEN Studios, and floral design studio POWERPLANT, who will sell their Christmas wreaths as well as hosting a couple of workshops).
It’s taking place on Sunday 4 December between 12pm and 6pm.
It doesn’t get much more wholesome than this one – Open Kitchen are throwing a ‘Very Merry Open Christmas’ featuring performances from the Halle Ancoats Community Choir, festive food and drink, and a fully ethical, sustainable, independent Christmas market.
You’ll be able to pick up ethically-sourced presents like plants, wreaths, ceramics, jewellery and food items under one roof, while knocking back one of four festive drinks and listening to the beautiful carols.
Traders involved include BreadFlower, Plant Shop, Tracey Birchwood Jewellery, Stephanie Mann Jewellery, Sue MC Ceramics, Dew Drop Jewellery, the People’s History Museum, and Charlotte Verity Jewellery.
You’ll find all this goodness in Open Kitchen’s cafe space at the People’s History Museum on Tuesday 6 December from 6pm, with performances at 6.30pm and 8pm.
Horse & Jockey Artisan Markets on the Green
Chorlton Green will get a big dose of the festivities this year thanks to the Horse & Jockey pub, which is bringing together more than 50 artisan stall holders on the green outside for a Christmas market alternative.
It’s been four years since the event was able to take place, but it’ll be back with everything from pies and pasties to home furnishings to local gin.
It’s part-run by the Joseph Holt pub in conjunction with the organisation Independent Street.
Carol singers and local brass bands will provide the soundtrack and the event’s even promising a visit from Dancer and Blitzen.
It will take place on Saturday 10 December between 1pm and 7pm.
Winter Market, Wythenshawe
35 of the best makers Manchester has to offer will be popped under one roof for a Winter Market this weekend.
Running from 10am to 3pm on Saturday 3 December, the event will feature stalls selling everything from candles to hand-crafted bottle openers to personalised baubles.
The Makers Markets that spring up around Greater Manchester are always an impressive sight, and never more so than at Christmas.
Pulling together hundreds of traders selling all sorts of products, this year’s festive markets include a Victorian Christmas Market Day in Cheadle, plus a huge ongoing market at Quayside in Salford Quays.
You’ll be spoilt for choice.
GRUB’s Sustainable Indie Christmas Market
The lovely folks at GRUB are used to pulling together local food and drink traders, but this weekend they’re boosting the usual offering with other small businesses.
18 stalls will be selling a variety of sustainable gifts, there’ll be a wreath making workshop, plus vegan food from Jeyda’s Turkish Kitchen, Marley’s Pizza, Nina’s Taco Truck and Dohlightful.
Oh, and mulled wine and boozy hot drinks, naturally.
Featured image: The Manc Group
The best things to do in Greater Manchester this week | 28 November – 4 December 2022
December is finally here.
It’s hardly like we’ve been stopping ourselves, but now that we’re waving goodbye to November, we are officially allowed to get excited about Christmas and all the festive-themed events coming up over the next few weeks – especially after Manchester Christmas Markets 2022 kicked-off and are now spreading festive cheer across the city.
The events calendar is, once again, absolutely jam-packed this week, so we’ve cherry-picked a few of the best bits for another edition of our ‘what’s on‘ guide.
As always, some of the events we’re going to mention are completely free, while others will set you back a few pounds, and many will need to be booked in advance.
Here’s our top picks.
Monday 28 November – onwards
Lightopia has made a return to Heaton Park this year.
Once again lighting up Manchester and captivating audiences for the fourth year in a row, award-winning illuminations event Lightopia is promising to bring the magic of Christmas back to the grounds of Heaton Park from this Thursday – with a brand-new immersive experience set to take over the park until January.
Through brand-new and unseen audiovisual displays, this year’s festival is a “once-in-a-lifetime adventure” for the all the family to enjoy.
This year, Lightopia will have food and drink traders stationed in front of The Stables under a heated canopy, creating the atmosphere of a mini Christmas market. Festive food and drink on offer will include a pulled pork hog roast and mulled wines, as well as vegan scotch eggs and homemade sausage rolls served out of an Airstream, piled-high pasta dishes, and stone-baked pizzas served from a converted horse box.
Find out more about Lightopia 2022 and grab tickets here.
Manchester Christmas Markets 2022
Manchester City Centre
Monday 28 November – Thursday 22 December
Manchester Christmas Markets 2022 are in full swing.
The iconic annual event – which draws in visitors from all across the globe each year, and has been voted the best Christmas markets in the UK for 2022 – are here once again to spread some cheer right across the city centre.
Open every day until Thursday 22 December, the the main market hubs in will be in Exchange Square, St Ann’s Square, King Street, and Market Street.
Other zones, however, are set to open after Christmas Day and run into the New Year.
You can find out everything you need to know here.
Monday 28 November – onwards
Did you see that Manchester’s newest cinema on the roof of Depot Mayfield has a whole host of Christmas films on the agenda over the next few weeks?
Backyard Cinema brings its immersive movie going experience to the north for the ever first time, and features way more than a cosy purpose-built cinema room, as it comes complete with an Enchanted Forest, two bars, street food trucks, and a live music stage to boot.
Looking for some new restaurants and bars to try out in Manchester city centre before this month is out?
As ever, a host of exciting new restaurants and bars have opened up November.
Not only do we have the return this month of Manchester’s Christmas Markets, which has brought with it a host of exciting and varied food and drink stalls, we also have a host of new wine bars, bakeries, pasta restaurants and food halls to shout about.
You can read our round-up to find out where to put on your list this month here.
FIFA World Cup 2022
Manchester City Centre
Monday 28 November – 18 December
The FIFA World Cup 2022 is well underway, and 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 in our city.
Escape to Freight Island has brought its highly-popular Winter Island back to Manchester, just in time to get you in the mood for the festive season.
Having landed at Depot Mayfield‘s premier event space and cargo park, this year’s Winter Island is promising visitors everything from DJs, live entertainment, and Massaoke, to Christmas workshops, pop-up markets, and all the festive food you could hope for.
Food and drink to be scoffed from some of the best local and independent traders.
From Manchester favourites like Northern Soul grilled cheese and the award-winning Great North Pie Co. to Ancoats chocolatiers Cocoa Cabana, who will be letting you create your own boozy hot chocolate (the best kind), there’s so much to tickle your festive fancies.
Proper festive fun for all the family, the Christmas with Paddington grotto experience – which is curated by award-winning experiential events company Bakehouse Factory – includes fun photo opportunities for all ages, the chance to travel through snowy festive trees and scenic street scenes, and so much more.
What’s a festive season in the city without Skate Manchester?
Back once again for 2022 with twinkling lights, the smell of gingerbread, and Christmas songs playing on repeat, Skate Manchester’s stunning outdoor ice rink is in the heart of the city at Cathedral Gardens until 2 January 2023.
With covered rink having a roof to allow everyone to enjoy the ice, whatever the weather, this year, there’s also a brand-new ice path allowing you to skate around the beautiful Christmas tree centre.
The highly-anticipated and long-awaited exhibit is currently showcasing 145 iconic Banksy pieces all amassed from private collections across the globe to create the world’s largest touring collection of Banksy artworks.
Visitors will have the chance to experience the infamous artist’s most well-known works alongside those rarely seen by the public, all on loan from private collectors.
Popular après-ski village Bar Hütte is officially back in the city centre.
After what was an undeniably successful run in 2021 and the plenty of years prior, Bar Hütte is better than ever this year, with 15 cosy Alpine cabins dotted across the Great Northern square courtyard to bring a lively, festive, and vibrant atmosphere.
Inspired by some of the coolest après ski bars in Europe, there’s everything from live music and free-flowing festive drinks, to the chance to try out the bar’s legendary ‘shot skis’, as well sing-along to all of your favourite tunes inside a private wooden karaoke cabin that’s festooned with twinkling tights.
Cheshire Oaks’ beloved grotto will look a little different to usual as Santa and his trusty elves are taking to the skies and inviting you on a fantastical festive adventure on the outlet’s all-new Big Wheel.
The Santa in the Sky experience is the perfect way to celebrate Christmas as a family this winter, and make memories to last a lifetime.
Open every weekend throughout December, with 10-minutes flights taking place from 10am-1pm, included in the ticket price is four spaces on the Big Wheel flight with Santa and his elves, and you’ll also get to sip on a mulled wine or hot chocolate and enjoy a festive cookie, as well as get a little gift to take home with you from Santa.