As we come to the end of a tricky year, it can be difficult to remember all the great little things that happened amid the non-stop craziness of 2020. With that in mind, here’s a few small wins from the past twelve months worth smiling about this Christmas…


2020 took a lot from us but it gave us plenty of time to raid the fridge. It was here where Manchester’s food scene really delivered – literally. Street food faves Grub seamlessly transitioned into Grub-E-Mart, while countless restaurants shifted to home delivery. Escape To Freight Island debuted at Mayfield Depot, bringing a host of food vendors with it, while vegan-eatery Vertigo continued to succeed by expanding to Media City. Prestwich got Scandi-inspired restaurant Osma spearheaded by a Michelin-star trained chef and Gooey ruined all our diet plans by bringing cookies and donuts to Ducie Street Warehouse. Hungry? Us too.


Manchester’s art-scene is world-renowned and in 2020, it had a lot to say. Before lockdown hit, HOME debuted the Manchester Open featuring your work and attracting record-breaking crowds. When disaster struck, popular art spaces like The Lowry, The Whitworth and Paper Gallery made their work available online, while Manchester Art Gallery was selected as the venue to host Grayson Perry’s hotly-tipped Art Club exhibition. Meanwhile, our streets were alive with an outpouring of grief for George Floyd and support for essential NHS workers and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham. Proof that you can lock Manchester down but you can’t keep it quiet.


Despite constant uncertainty, 2020 saw the debut of plenty of exciting new additions to Manchester’s thriving independent food, drink and shopping scene. Levenshulme welcomed Long Bois Bake House, Stretford saw the arrival of The Hive and Sale said hello to brand new sustainable bike shop, Folk Like You. Meanwhile, the Northern Quarter got a friendly and colourful hang out spot courtesy of Feel Good Club and Whitworth Locke went green (and vibrant pink) with plant shop The Glass House.

Music & Bars

We tip our hat to Manchester’s unbeatable nightlife scene and its ability to survive and thrive during this nightmare year. In between lockdowns we saw Fell Brewery, Fierce Brewery and Manchester’s first CBD bar Hemp open their doors, while an array of local breweries and wine specialists set up delivery services at a moment’s notice. We were spoiled for choice with live streams from folks like Matt and Phred’s, The Hallé and Band on the Wall and acts like New Order teased great things for 2021. We even tried to keep spirits high with our regular Wire List Spotify playlists featuring the best local bands and artists.

Great things to come in 2021

Throughout all of 2020’s darkest moments, we were given plenty to look forward to in Manchester’s oh-so-near future. Manchester International Festival teased details of their vibrant, city-wide 2021 opening weekend event, Islington Mill announced a £7m facelift to help them welcome more local creators and makers, and we got our first glimpse of the city centre’s brand new public park. Oh and Piccadilly Gardens’ notorious concrete wall eye-sore? It’s finally coming down! Here’s to next year, yeah?

Wed 23 Dec
Simon Bland
Published on:
Wed 23 Dec 2020