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Manchester Student Nightlife Guide

Manchester is one of Northerns England’s liveliest and most vibrant student cities, built up of award-winning live music venues, student bars and nightclubs. Home to five city centre university campuses and over 100,000 students, it’s also the second largest destination for students in the UK after Leeds. 

Listing a huge number of excellent, annual Freshers' events - running from Sunday 19th September to Saturday 25th September in 2021 - you’ll never find yourself stuck for things to do upon arrival in the city. Whether you want to catch a gig, have a drink with new friends or rave through the night and long into the early hours - we can guarantee there’ll be plenty to choose from with something to suit all needs.

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Freshers week

You've just arrived in the city, you're understandably disorientated and scrambling to get your bearings. Don't worry, many of us here have been in your shoes. And what's more, you've got us to lean on. We're here to help you get settled into your new surroundings, to teach you more about each of the city's amazing districts and to assist you in finding the best places to socialise at events being held throughout Freshers week. 

Below, you'll find our comprehensive guide to Manchester and student nightlife in the city, consisting of student-friendly bars and places to eat, as well as places to catch live music and a FAQ section to answer some of those niggling questions you might have about your new home and Freshers Week.

Best areas for student nightlife


Fallowfield is a wonderful area for students to live, described as its own town within a city, providing easy access to the city centre, its shopping districts and its world-renowned nightlife. It’s also one of the most popular student areas in Manchester, boasting a dynamic social scene all of its own, and definitely one of the best places for nightlife outside of the inner city with a choice of pubs, bars and even comedy clubs to choose from.

Northern Quarter

Focused around the High Street/Thomas Street crossroads, Manchester's bohemian Northern Quarter is one the cities trendiest. Featuring an array of long-standing nightclubs and bars, this densely packed area of hospitality, teeming with nightlife and entertainment, is one of Manchester's most popular for a student night out. Our favourite venues and clubs include Soup Kitchen, The Mint Lounge, Flok and Behind Closed Doors.

Oxford Road

The Oxford Road area of Manchester has long been loved for its student pub scene and eclectic nightlife. With a similar feel to that of the Northern Quarter, the area has plenty of bars and venues to choose from, including some excellent microbreweries and awesome live music venues - the likes of the O2 Ritz, The Academy, YES, The Deaf Institute and many more. 

Deansgate Locks

The best areas for student nightlife around Manchester's Deansgate Locks, in the South of the city region, are directly opposite from Deansgate Train Station. This area features a string of swanky chain bars housed in converted railway arches, and is on the doorstep of Manchester University's student area. Our top bar tips include MOJO Manchester, Three Little Words and Revolution Deansgate Locks - a student favourite.


From Italian ristorante to Japanese ramen and sushi, fine dining experiences and lively cocktail bars - Spinning Fields is one of the city’s classier and more up-market zones, with prices for drink, food and entertainment slightly higher than those found in others. A wonderfully diverse part of Manchester featuring lots of quirky independents, such as The Alchemist cocktail bar, alongside the likes of stylish brasserie, The Ivy and Sunset By Australasia, there’s a mix of hospitality options to choose from.

The Gay Village

Canal Street is the heart of Manchester's famous ‘Gay Village’. A mini-city of fun, buzzing with great restaurants, late night bars, clubs and live music, it attracts a broad mix of students, tourists and clubbers who all come to drink, dance and enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere. Come nightfall the parties start in earnest with the streets leading off becoming a giant dance floor, as revellers spill out into the bars' outdoor seating areas.

Students Bars and live music venues

Manchester really looks after it’s students when it comes to offering a great and cost friendly night out, as we’ve already somewhat covered. Below, you’ll find a list of five of the best student bars in the city, delivering top quality entertainment, alcohol at low prices and an unbeatable party atmosphere.


Bringing together five unique cocktail bars, an expansive sun terrace, a devoted dining space, a laid back lounge area and a giant dance floor, Revolution Deansgate Docks boasts all that is essential for a good night out. One of four Revolution bars in the city, the Deansgate bar offers a list of special drinks offers including 2-4-1’s as well as happy hour deals, and is one of the best places to grab a relatively inexpensive cocktail in Manchester. 

256 Wilmslow Road

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No one studying and living in Manchester should ever go without visiting 256 Wilmslow Road. What was once a former church is now one of the city’s most recognised party destinations - especially for students. Located in the midst of the action, in the heart of Fallowfield, where most of the city’s students reside, this iconic venue offers live sports, themed quizzes and social events, as well as next level after hours entertainment. On top of that, punters can choose from a long list of beers, wines, cocktails, spirits, soft drinks and some mouth-watering food options, to enhance their day and night. 

The Thirsty Scholar

Nestled under a railway arch not a five minute walk from Oxford Road Train Station, sits one of Manchester’s more artsy and contemporary public houses. With an emphasis on having fun and serving great drinks and food, the three-floor pub promotes live music every Monday to Thursday, while the weekends are geared more towards DJs. Offering a large selection of speciality imported world beers and ales, as well as premium packaged larger and ciders, non alcoholic drinks and some of the best vegan and vegetarian food found in the city, it’s one of the best situated haunts to begin a student night out in Manchester from. 

The Liquor Store

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With it’s bright décor and quirky mancunian twist on things’, the Liquor Store Manchester is a city bar like no other. Located in the heart of the city, just off Deansgate Locks, this laid-back hangout spot, aesthetically modelled on a Los Angeles style diner, serves up American eats alongside some incredible cocktails with a vibrant dose of friendliness. It’s quirky, original and inherently stylish like the city it calls home. Renowned for their cocktail creations, we highly recommended you try the St Hendrick's Elderly Rose, the Oasis or the Manchester Mule.

The Deaf Institute 

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The Deaf Institute is an independent bar and venue based in the heart of the Manchester Metropolitan University Campus, just off Oxford Road. The venue comprises a two-hundred plus capacity music hall on the first floor, hosting regular live gigs, comedy and club nights, as well as a basement den and a rooftop terrace. It’s also fitted with three bars and a kitchen which serves some of the best food found anywhere across the city. Previous acts to have graced the venue's quirky Music Hall venue include Liz Lawrence, JOHN, Kyle Falconer and many more.

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Student Clubs 

If it’s live music or clubbing you desire, Manchester is the place to be. It has a long history of elevating upcoming bands and DJs, creating legends like Graeme Park and Mike Pickering, and bands such as James, Happy Mondays and New Order, none of whom would be where they are today without the assistance of the city’s many clubs and venues.

Below, you’ll find just a small selection of the most popular places amongst students to see live music in the city. 

Soup Kitchen

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A venue that's been providing Manchester with its own diverse programme of live music since it opened almost thirty years ago, back in 1993. Boasting an intimate 300-capacity club space in its basement, as well as a main room and recording studio, it’s been the launch pad for many successful indie acts in the past, including Bipolar Sunshine, Peace and Circa Waves. It’s also a rather important spot for DJs too, with the likes of Objekt, Call Super, Andrew Weatherall and Maurice Fulton all previously performing here. Always pushing new music and frequently selling out shows, it’s got something of a cult like status amongst the city’s music loving inhabitants. It also serves some damn good food and swanky drinks!

Square One

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One of Manchester’s most recently opened clubs, Square One was conceptualised following the onset of the COVID pandemic back in March 2020. Built on a disused car park near Piccadilly Train Station, the COVID compliant, open-air club has been designed and adapted to ensure its guests are at minimal risk of infection from the virus. Opening its doors to the public in July 2021, it's already played host to sought-after names such as Denis Sulta, Hot Since 82, Kettama and more. Easily set to be one the best destinations for those students looking for a night of clubbing in Manchester.


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Manchester’s Hidden is home to some of the best nights in the city. From their design which leads you on a journey of exploration, down dark alleyways and into cavernous warehouse spaces, to their magnificent music line-up - this club has something for everyone. A place for passionate ravers, with a particular penchant for underground house and techno, the team behind the venue focus on presenting only the best local acts and internationally respected names. Be sure to check out the huge graffiti wall, created largely by the artists that regularly play at Hidden.

Joshua Brooks

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Joshua Brooks has now finally reopened following extensive refurbishment work carried out throughout the first half of 2021. The prestigious venue, the place where The Chemical Brothers are said to have made their first performance, now flaunts the feel of a new-build club without losing the intimate vibe it has always been renowned for. Offering impressive drinks and food options, with incentives for students such as special offers with student discount cards, in addition to a first-rate programme of performers, with recent sets coming from DJs Mark Knight and Darius Syrossian, it’s a definite port of call for clubbers in the city. 

The Depot (Mayfield)

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With state of the art production, sound system and visual effects, The Depot Mayfield in Manchester is one of the UK’s most exciting venues. Sat directly across from Piccadilly Train Station, this former railway storage facility is now the home of the much acclaimed seasonal club brand, The Warehouse Project, amongst others. Reopened back in 2019 following a billion-pound redevelopment, the venue has since played host to some of the biggest names in music, including Aphex Twin, Four Tet and Bicep and is set to return to the fire again from September 2021 with another full season of WHP events.

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Fresher’s FAQ’s

When does Freshers Week Take place in Manchester?

Freshers Week 2021 in Manchester is set to run from Sunday 19th September to Saturday 25th September 

Do I need to provide ID at events?

Yes, as a requirement of law all bars, pubs, clubs and venues will require some form of valid ID which proves you are at least 18 years of age. Accepted forms of ID include a driver’s license or passport.

Will I need a facemask?

Yes. Although the law has now changed, within some premises, you may still need to wear a mask, with each individual hospitality venue able to apply their own rules. You may be asked to wear one when moving around a restaurant or bar for example but not when seated. You’ll also need to wear a mask if travelling on public transport.


More about Manchester

Irrespective of whether you're a first time visitor to the city, a frequently returning guest or a lifelong inhabitant, our guides are essential reading for anyone looking to make the most of their time in Manchester.



Manchester is one of Northerns England’s liveliest and most vibrant student cities, built up of award-winning live music venues, student bars and nightclubs. Home to five city centre university campuses and over 100,000 students, it’s also the second largest destination for students in t…

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