Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and if you like to celebrate with your loved ones then you’re probably scrambling around for ideas in Manchester.
You might be getting ready for a night out with friends, to shower your other half with affection, or even marking the occasion with family.
Whatever your situation, and whoever you’re spending 14 February with, we’ve got a perfect day out in mind for you – whatever you’re in to.
And even if you’re really not arsed about Valentine’s Day, you can bookmark this for future date inspiration.
Keep reading for five perfect date days around Greater Manchester, from where to go for food to where to hotel inspiration if you want to make a night of it.
For those who love an activity
It’s not all about being wined and dined – some of us would rather get stuck in, get a bit competitive, and have a laugh.
There are competitive gaming experiences popping up all over Manchester (you can see a full list here) that are perfect for Valentine’s Day.
What to do: Head to Roxy Ball Room (there’s one on Deansgate, but the site at the Arndale is our favourite) for an afternoon of bowling, ping-pong, shuffleboard, arcade games and even Crazy Pool. It’s rock and roll vibes with a healthy dose of competitive spirit.
Where to drink: Open through until the early hours, NQ64 is a graffiti-splattered, late-night Northern Quarter bar with retro arcade games, old-school consoles, and gaming-inspired cocktails.
Where to eat: There’s a newcomer in town that should fit the bill – Calcio has opened (also in the Northern Quarter, so minimal walking), bringing retro games and live sport to town. The kitchen is run by What’s Your Beef, so expect glorious burgers, hot dogs, wings and loaded fries.
Where to sleep: Seeing as your entire date has been based in and around the Northern Quarter, you might as well kip there too – head over to Native, the stunning aparthotel in Ducie Street Warehouse. The bonus is that you have your own little apartment for the night, so you can whip out the playing cards and keep fuelling your activity obsession.
For those who love to get dressed up
Valentine’s Day is a special occasion, so it’s a lovely excuse to whip out the glad rags, slap on a face of make-up and play princess for the day.
Despite its sometimes-rough and ready appearance, Manchester has got plenty of glamour going on.
What to do: We’d love to suggest a day spent at Soho House, but it’s not open yet – so you can while away a few hours in the shopping hotspots around town. There are the lovely boutiques around King Street, or you can hibernate inside Harvey Nichols and Selfridges in the heart of Manchester – which both helpfully have champagne bars inside, serving a special San Valentino cocktail for Valentine’s Day.
Where to drink: For the best views in town, it’s got to be the beautiful 20 Stories. Have a cocktail or a glass of fizz on the roof terrace (it’s heated) and take in the Manchester skyline.
Where to eat: You don’t want to waste all the effort you spent getting ready, and one of the places to be seen is The Ivy, which has one of the most decadent interiors in town – though you’ll be spoilt for choice in Spinningfields. Other front-runners include Australasia, Rosso, and Tattu.
Where to sleep: King Street Townhouse, obviously – it has a rooftop pool that is always all over Instagram, a pretty special place to visit even with its view of Manchester Town Hall currently slightly marred by scaffolding.
For those who love live music
This is really what Manchester does best, and a lot of us would find a night of live music the perfect Valentine’s Day – or date at any time of year.
This is how to nail a day out if you’re with a music lover.
What to do: There are loads of grassroots music venues around town – look for gig tickets for Band on the Wall, which recently underwent a huge upgrade. Nearby, you’ll also find Night & Day Cafe, Gullivers, and Matt & Phreds Jazz Cafe.
Where to drink: Ramona and The Firehouse is famous for its margaritas, and for its free late-night entertainment. Grab a drink and prepare to watch their talented artists dance it out on the runway.
Where to eat: Assuming you opt for Band on the Wall, Mackie Mayor is an ideal pre-gig dinner spot – it’s right next door. There are dozens of brilliant food and drink operators crammed under one roof, and it’s a properly stunning location to dine in too.
Where to sleep: Music runs through the heart of the new-ish Brewdog Hotel in the city centre. Each room comes with a record player and an acoustic guitar, and they’ll even hand you a pint at the check-in desk. Ideal.
For those who are absolutely skint
This time of year is brutal for our finances at the best of time, but the cost of living crisis is making it even worse.
Thankfully, there’s loads you can do around Manchester without spending a fortune this Valentine’s Day.
What to do: Even if you live here, we can’t recommend taking a walking tour of the city enough – there’ll be so much you don’t know about Manchester. This company – Free Manchester Walking Tours – are some of the best, and you just pay what you can at the end. There are also loads of galleries and museums that are free to visit.
Where to drink: For the cheapest pint in town, it still has to be Sinclairs Oyster Bar in Exchange Square. Phones and swearing are totally barred (don’t even try it) – just grab a pint for a couple of quid and get cosy in this incredibly old-school boozer.
Where to sleep: Probably at home, in your own bed, if you’re on that much of a budger – but there are usually fairly affordable deals to be found around town, like at the new Wilde Aparthotel. Just avoid The Britannia, whatever you do.
For those who love to escape the city
Had enough of Manchester? Weirdo.
But no, on a serious note, one of the best things about living in the north west is all the countryside that surrounds us, from the Saddleworth Moors to the Peak District to the Lake District. So let’s hit the road.
What to do: Put on your hiking gear and get the train out to Glossop. It’s only a quick journey but you’ll find yourself right on the edge of the Peak District, where loads of walks will unfold in front of you.
Where to drink: Pubs, obviously. The highlights in Old Glossop include the lovely pub The Bull’s Head, and brewery taproom Distant Hills. Or you can head into Glossop a bit further and take a trip to Harvey Leonard’s, a wine and ale bar in the old Conservative Club.
Where to eat: There’s modern pub grub at The Oak Wood, but if you can face the trip across to Hayfield, The Pack Horse is easily one of the best gastropubs in the country. Don’t just take our word for it…
Where to sleep: The Pack Horse sadly doesn’t have room, but they have rounded up some brilliant Airbnbs in the area – what could be more romantic than a cosy fireside night in a riverside cottage, or a converted barn? Sold.
Featured image: Unsplash
Travel & Tourism
The Torrs Millennium Walkway – a stunning Peak District walk that hovers above a huge gorge
On first glance, New Mills may seem like any other Peak District town: small, picturesque with little-much-to-do. Venture just a few steps towards the River Sett, and you’ll find yourself in another landscape entirely.
Just below the hustle and bustle of the main shopping centre lies New Mill’s (not so) hidden gem – The Torrs Millennium Walkway.
Having done this route a few times, each time we’ve been amazed at the natural gorge that lies below.
The spectacular gritstone gorge was previously impassable to walkers, but the walkway built at the turn of the millennium, nicknamed the ‘steel spider’s web’, has transformed the dramatic landscape.
The Torrs Millennium Walkway is a 175-yard aerial walkway spanning the cliffsides above the River Goyt and River Sett, with links to many walking and cycling routes across the area.
If you’re new to the area, the heritage centre provides maps and guides for several nearby walks, including the iconic Kinder Trespass Trail.
Below, Getlostmcr has mapped out a couple of walking route options, one of which soaks in all the best bits of Stockport’s forgotten history.
And if you plan your walk to finish in New Mills, you can nip in to the dog-friendly, traditional local pub, The Pride of the Peaks, for a swift pint of Guinness by the real fire.
For those short on time, we recommend this route by Getlostmcr – a short, four-mile, out-and-back loop around the walkway and along the Sett Valley Trail. This route starts in the town of New Mills, easily reached via train or by car, with ample parking space at Market Street Carpark in the town centre.
And for those looking to get the extra steps in, why not extend the route by starting at nearby Marple?
History buffs, this one’s for you: Getlostmcr have mapped out a lengthier walk that takes in the best of Stockport’s forgotten history.
Starting from Marple, you’ll head towards The Roman Lakes, past the site of Mellor Mill Ruins: once a shining start of the Oldknow Empire. Back in its heyday, Mellor Mill was the biggest spinning mill the world had seen.
What remains of the site has since been taken over by the natural world, making a perfect pitstop on the first leg of your walk.
From here, you’ll make the ascent to Mellor Cross close to Cobden Edge. Mellor Cross was originally erected in 1970 by a group of local church goers who carried the individual pieces up the steep hill to ensure the cross overlooked the community.
Once you’ve marvelled at the size of this landmark, it’s time to head towards Mellor Moor where you’ll be rewarded with views right across the western edge of the Peak District and the Cheshire Plain.
The moor’s umpteen tracks date back to prehistoric Old Mercian trackways, said to be the route of monks and pilgrims way back when. Next, you’ll follow the trackways until you reach New Mills, where you can stop off to marvel at the walkway above. As for the return? That’s up to you!
You can follow Getlost’s out-and-back route here, or simply get the train back to either Piccadilly or the starting point in Marple if you drove down. For those following the half route, this is the link you need.
We parked in New Mills’ Market Street Carpark, £2 for 4 hours. 44 spaces.
New mills Carpark: Market Street, New Mills, High Peak, Derbyshire, SK22 4AA.
For those starting in Marple, there is ample free street parking near Hibbert Lane, SK6. There is also a carpark just off Hibbert Lane.
Marple carpark: Marple Memorial Park, Hibbert Lane, Stockport, SK6 6BD.
There are plenty of cafes in both New Mills and Marple. For those following the short loop from New Mills, Sett Valley Café is en route and have a 10/10 selection of homemade and vegan drinks and snacks.
We went to Pride of the Peaks in New Mills, but there are plenty to choose from in both New Mills and Marple, depending where you choose to start.
There are various options to suit different walking abilities. For those wanting to do the out and back from Marple, we’d recommend walking boots.
It’s also worth noting the ascent is all in one short stint so decent level of fitness is required. The short loop from New Mills is perfect for a Sunday dog walk.
Blackpool has been named one of the top five worst seaside towns in the UK
It won’t be a title to shout about from the rooftops, but Blackpool has been named one of the worst seaside towns in the UK.
In what is grim reading for the North, The Telegraph has this week published a list of what it considers to be the top 20 best and worst seaside towns in the UK, giving each place on the list a ranking out of 100 – and Blackpool has, unfortunately, found itself quite close to the bottom.
The much-loved Lancashire resort has come in at number 17.
With a pretty brutal ranking of 22/100, claiming number 17 on The Telegraph’s list effectively means Blackpool has been named the fourth worst seaside town in the UK.
Sharing a top five spot with fellow Lancashire town Morecambe, and a place in the top 10 alongside Southport in the North West, Tyneside’s South Shields, Lincolnshire’s Cleethorpes, and North Yorkshire’s Scarborough, Blackpool is not only the most populous town in Lancashire, but according to The Telegraph, is also “one of the most storied in the UK”.
Described as having “pavements littered with tales of hedonism and high jinks, as much as poverty and neglect”, Blackpool is credited by the publication for having invented the “working-class weekend break” and serving as a “laughter lab” for generations of famous comedians.
The paper, surprisingly, even called the town “sort of sophisticated” – but only if you “ignore” the Pleasure Beach’s iconic Big One rollercoaster that looms over it.
Giving a run-down of why Blackpool has been named in the top five worst seaside town’s in the UK, The Telegraph explains that it’s “too big to fail”, adding: “With the Illuminations, the Tower, Strictly glitz, a branch of Madame Tussauds, heavily made-up gay and trans scenes and stag and hen groups, Blackpool isn’t a sedate escape.
“A walk along its long prom in summer is like featuring in a documentary called Mad, Bad, Sad, Glad Modern Britain.”
The publication claims the town is “too idiosyncratic, too well-loved (and loathed), too generous to fit one style or market”, and rounded out the review claiming that even if you spent “£10 billion gentrifying” the place, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
“All you’d get is Miami with rain and donkeys,” the description concludes.
On the other end of the spectrum, St Ives in Cornwall took the number one spot on the list with a rating of 98/100, while Southwold, Whitstable, Lyme Regis, and North Berwick completed the rest of the top five.