Whether or not you’re new to Manchester, starting a university degree can be a brilliant way of seeing a city differently. Did you know, for example, that there’s a brand new complex of bars, food stands and shops tucked underneath the Mancunian way, and right next to campus? Or that one of the best places for both gigs and drinks (the bar has a ‘push for Prosecco button’…) was formerly a Wesleyan Chapel serving a Methodist congregation? Discover these gems and more in our alternative Freshers guide, below…

Art | Film | Theatre

Arts hub HOME is a brilliant one-stop shop for exhibitions, film and theatre. The film programming is second to none, with a huge range of high-quality films shown across five screens. The theatre stages some of the most ambitious and unusual productions to be found in the city – including Manchester Metropolitan Uniersity’s School of Theatre Productions Attempts on Her Life (10-12 Oct), We Happy Few (7-9 Nov) and Duchess of Malfi (21-23 Nov). There are student discounts on both theatre and cinema tickets, including a limited number of £5 advance tickets. HOME’s gallery space hosts cutting-edge visual art exhibitions and is always completely free; opening here on 12 Oct is the Manchester School of Art MA Fine Art show, which runs until 27 Oct. They’re even hosting a day-long welcome for Freshers complete with a free film screening. HOME’s cafe-bar and first floor restaurant also come highly recommended.

HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN, Tel: 0161 200 1500
Rare Mags

A short train journey outside Manchester is Stockport, home to a traditional market hall, top tier restaurant Where The Light Gets In, a newly-promoted football team and a hat museum. Yep, you read that right – it’s the UK’s only museum dedicated to the hatting industry (and reportedly a great way to test someone’s sense of humour on a first date). Our top pick here though is Rare Mags, a beautifully laid out shop specialising in excellent, hard to find magazines from around the world. It supports great local artists and hosts regular free events. What’s not to love?

Rare Mags, 17 Lower Hillgate, Stockport SK1 1AQ, Tel: 07562 402495
Food | Drink | Shop

Its tagline is ‘For the curious’ but perhaps it should also be ‘for the hungry’: HATCH is a newcomer to Oxford Road, tucked under the Mancunian overpass and right next to campus. Here you’ll find coffee shops, food stands, bars and retail units inside a set of brightly coloured shipping crates. Top picks include the unparalleled coffee at Takk, nano brewery and keg bar Öl and stylish lifestyle store Nordic Muse. The traders do change on the regs, so keep an eye on the website to see what’s new.

Hatch, Oxford Road, Manchester M1 7ED, Tel: 0333 323 2238

Brilliant not only for its excellent gig programming and utterly stunning interior, Manchester’s Albert Hall also has an extraordinary history behind it. It was formerly a Wesleyan church, designed in 1910 to attract non-churchgoers with its beautiful arched balcony and stained glass ceiling. The original organ is still in place, but a stage that was once graced by Winston Churchill now hosts the likes of Charli XCX, Kate Tempest and, well, Bongo’s Bingo. Downstairs (and equally stunning) is Albert’s Schloss, Bavarian bier palace and cook haus extraordinaire. Go for great food, live music and entertainment, plus those ‘Push for Prosecco’ buttons we mentioned earlier…

Albert Hall Manchester, 27 Peter Street, Manchester M2 5QR, Tel: 0161 817 3490

The absolute top place in Manchester to go for arts, crafts and design products – with over 30,000 in store – is Fred Aldous in the Northern Quarter. This superb stationers and gift shop has been trading for over 130 years and here, experience shows: there’s also a range of in-house creative services on offer, such as laser Cutting, risograph printing and photo studio hire. There are even two photo booths available, for memorable snaps with friends. Best of all, students are eligible for a 10% discount in store – what more could you ask for?

Fred Aldous, 37 Lever Street, Manchester M1 1LW, Tel: 0161 236 4224

Chapeltown Picture House describes itself as a little cinema that shows big films. Situated on the top floor of a former mill on Chapeltown Street (right behind Piccadilly Station), the 60-seat picture house is only open Fri to Sun, but should still be thought of as a big draw. Here you’ll find Squawk Brewing Co beer, video games, house popcorn, a VR lounge and more. Launched by the team behind GRUB (a weekly street food fair we’d also highly recommend) and hidden behind a bright pink door, the emphasis here is on cult classic films that deserve your full attention; strictly no mobile phones (one strike and you’re out) and no latecomers allowed. That’s right – films watched PROPERLY. Enjoy! Learn more in our monthly round-up of film events.

Chapeltown Picture House, 4th floor, 64 Chapeltown Street, Manchester M1 2HW
Treetop Adventure Golf

Last but not least is Treetop Adventure Golf at The Printworks. Although not set amongst actual treetops (because how would that work, really?), these two indoor, 18-hole mini golf courses do have a distinctly tropical theme, with lush greenery surrounding the, er, greens. There are student discounts on prices (£8 for 18 holes, £12 for 36!), plus a free bottled beer, cider, glass of wine or soft drink if you pay for two courses between 5pm Sunday to 5pm Friday (valid with a student ID). You’ll find more drinks, plus coffee and pizzas, at the bar and café. There’s no need to book – just turn up and tee off.

Treetop Adventure Golf, The Printworks, Dantzic Street, Manchester M4 2BS, Tel: 0161 832 9805
Tue 17 Sep - Thu 31 Oct
Polly Checkland Harding
Published on:
Tue 17 Sep 2019