Here at Much Gay, we have a bit of a soft spot for Manchester (considering it's our home town)! Whilst Covid-19 might still be hanging over us, and bars have various restrictions in place at the moment, there's no reason that we can't look forward to sunnier days ahead when we get back to something resembling normal!
When it comes to Manchester, there's plenty to see and do in this bustling British city, from museums to music, and from world-class food to theatre, there's always something going on. But what about the discerning gay traveller who wants a nice libation after a long day of exploring?
Manchester's got you covered. Our world-famous Gay Village is centred around Canal Street, with off-shoots on Richmond Street and beyond. You'll find bars and clubs that suit every taste, and trust us, there is always something to see.
Here is our breakdown (in no particular order) of the 10 best gay bars in Manchester!
Ask me why! An off-shoot of the legendary PopTastic, a Manchester gay-scene staple, BarPop is right at the heart of the Gay Village (and we mean that literally - it's in the centre of Canal Street). There's always something going on at BarPop, whether it's a show from their dedicated team of drag queens, a movie night, or anything in between, the team here do a fantastic job of keeping the Gay Village entertained!
The building housing BarPop has been the home of a number of different bars over the years, but none have been as successful or had as much of an impact on the Gay Village as BarPop has. Long may it continue!
Top Tip For New Visitors: Look out for Juanita, the landlady, she's not what you would expect...
Image: Eagle Bar
The heart of the Gay Village's fetish scene, the Eagle Bar is legendary. Whilst they host all sorts of fetish events, it's also the perfect place for a quiet drink in the week or an all-night party at the weekend.
The sprawling bar is actually made up into three separate bars. The main bar, The Eagle, hosts all sorts of events, and is a great place to people watch and enjoy the music. The Dark Eagle next door is a much different affair, and is perfect for a quieter, more intimate experience. Finally, the Lodge on the upper level is a plush, elegant bar (it puts us in mind of Balmoral!) where you can kick back with a cocktail and have a natter.
Top Tip for New Visitors: The Eagle's Sunday events are our favourite... check it out!
Standing proudly at the end of Sackville Street, Thompson's is something of a Gay Village stalwart. It has seen the Gay Village through thick and thin, and is one of the busiest bars we know on a Saturday night.
If you're after a quiet mid-week drink, it accommodates that too, with a colourful cast of characters in terms of regulars who are a friendly bunch! The staff are friendly, and if you've had a hard day's exploring, you'll be greeted with a smile and a pint that never fails to be anything less than delicious (trust us, they look after their beer here).
Top Tip for New Visitors: Thompson's has a second floor that hosts all sorts of meetups and events during the week - check out some local gay groups and see what they're getting up to up there!
Image: Pubs of Manchester
The Molly House and Company Bar are two separate bars that are house in the same building (they also share an owner). However, the two experiences couldn't be more different!
The Molly House is a swanky, elegant bar, serving great beers and cocktails, as well as its famous Tapas (which is to die for). Spread across two floors, there's a cosy smoking balcony, and plenty of plush seating. It's not hard to completely relax at The Molly House.
Alternatively, Company Bar is an intimate, dark space on the basement level. It's a great little bar, attracting an interesting crowd, and the staff are some of the best in the Village. Each has their own music taste and set the atmosphere accordingly, so if you want an eclectic music experience, make a few visits over different nights!
Top Tip for New Visitors: Check out the side of the building for an absolutely stunning mural that has become something of a Manchester landmark.
Image: Visit Britain
It doesn't get much G-A-Yer than this! Perched on the end of Canal Street, G-A-Y took the Gay Village by storm when it replaced Spirit Bar. An offshoot of G-A-Y London, this bar is the place to see and be seen! Many a fantastic night-out has started on its open-air roof terrace, and if you just want to people watch, there isn't a better spot to do it in Manchester.
The bar is spread over two floors, and at the weekend each plays different music, meaning that whatever your tastes, you're catered for!
Top Tip for New Visitors: We've mentioned it above, but a weekday drink on the roof terrace whilst you watch the crowds pass-by below is a must on a sunny day!
Image: Trip Advisor
An absolute icon of Manchester's Gay Village, New York, New York sits on Bloom Street, just behind Canal Street. One of the oldest bars in the Gay Village, it's also one of the most successful, and it has a fascinating history.
Bar owner Tracey can often be found in 'Tracey's Corner' at the end of the bar, and the music is always fantastic. Definitely worth a visit!
Top Tip for New Visitors: New York, New York has a different theme for Pride every year, and they always go all-out, so make sure you visit!
Image: Oscars Bar Manchester
One of our favourite bars on this list, Oscars is dedicate to show tunes and the people that love them! The bar is cosy, intimate, and offers some of the best cocktails in Manchester.
The staff are friendly, the music is fantastic and if you love show tunes you'll be in heaven! Their regular quizzes are legendary as well, so check them out if you're in town.
Top Tip for New Visitors: Oscars hosts sing-a-long Sundays on the first Sunday of every month, which are definitely worth a look, and they screen some of the greatest musicals of all time. What's not to love?
Image: Design My Night
Another titan of the Gay Village, Via has stood proudly on Canal Street for many years. Featuring one of the more garish (in a fab way!) designs and layouts of all of the bars on this list, you can't help but love Via.
It's never not busy, so there's always a great atmosphere, and at the weekend it's a non-stop party. They do fantastic food too, so if you get peckish, it's definitely worth a visit.
Top Tip for New Visitors: The maze-like layout of Via is definitely worth exploring - you'll always find a cosy spot to relax and enjoy a drink!
Image: On Bar
The building that houses On Bar has a special place in Manchester Gay History, as its predecessor, Manto, was the first bar in Manchester to have windows at the front, meaning that the patrons refused to hide behind the closed doors that were a hallmark of gay life in Manchester when tolerance for homosexuality was low.
On Bar carries on the tradition with a fantastic offering of music, great drinks and a fantastic atmosphere. The bar is stylish and has a balcony offering views up and down Canal Street. There's always a crowd outside on its many outdoor tables, and its a great place to people watch.
Top Tip for New Visitors: The top floor has access to the balcony, and they play great music up there at the weekend. Worth a visit!
Image: Velvet Manchester
Velvet is a rather swanky bar at the top end of Canal Street, and has attracted people for years with its cosy setting and fantastic cocktails. The bar really is beautiful, and you'll love the atmosphere. They offer fantastic food and outdoor seating too, so if you're visiting in the Summer you could easily spend all day here. Indeed, we encourage you too!
Top Tip for New Visitors: Above the bar Velvet has a gorgeous hotel - worth checking out when you're looking for accommodation.
So there you have it! Our pick of the 10 best gay bars in Manchester's Gay Village. Manchester really is a fantastic place to visit, and wherever you're visiting from, you're in for a warm welcome!
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