Manchester is one of the North'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 you’ll never find yourself stuck for things to do upon arrival in the city, with there even being a wide array of cheap things and free things to do, which will be kind of the pockets of a student. So, whether you want to catch a gig, have a drink with new friends, go for some cheap food and drink, 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.
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.
The best student nights in Manchester
For you inaugural Mancunians, studying in the city for the foreseeable, the best place to head out for a party on Mondays has to be Factory for Quids In. Drinks are just £1, and entry is free. As you can imagine, this one consistently turns into a wild night. However, you may also be swayed by Monday Madness at Cargo. Here entry is just three quid for students, and drinks are cheap; 3,000 heads fit in here, so its always a full-blown party!
When Tuesday comes around, it's back to Factory for Rewind Tuesdays, where entry is free and all three floors are taken over with Commercial House/R’n’B; Cheese/Pop; and House/Tech respectively. However, if you don’t want to go out to the same place two nights on the trot, Twosdays at History is just as good an alternative. They offer 2-for-1 drinks all night and frequently welcome celebrity guests, including rappers such as Krept and Konan, Arrdee and Aitch.
When Wednesday comes around, your best bet is staying local (if Fallowfield is local for you) and heading over to 256 for Society Wednesdays. Here you can grab £2.50 pints, and sup them to an array of cheesy pop and club classics, whilst surrounded by all your pals from the societies you are in. However, if town is calling, then Toxic Wednesdays at Factory are your bet. Free entry, £1 bevs, and three floors of music; you can’t go wrong, can you?\
The penultimate day to the weekends, Thursdays actually have a lot to offer the student population of Manchester. First and foremost, in our opinion, if you aren’t off to Hidden for Hidden Thursdays you aren't doing it right. The ultimate locate for a two-step or a skank midweek, in one of Manchester's very best dance meccas. However, if you prefer guitars and drums to faders and mixers, then Skint Thursdays at 42s will cover all you need it to, whilst also being extremely kind on the pocket.
When Friday hits, Manchester will be getting considerably busier, and some of your regular haunts may be a lot more crowded. However, Dirty Dancefloors at 42s stays strong with the cheap drinks and entry, with indie and rock bangers all night. Plus, Flamingo Fridays at Lola Lo’s has free entry before 8 and 2-4-1 cocktails until midnight, and is a very popular choice among the boujee swaths of the student population.
As for the rest of the Weekend. We can’t lie, it isn't as kind to students as the week is. You can still go out, but don’t expect the special student treatment you’ve been getting all week. Our advice? Stick to the student haunts like 256 in Fallowfield or Courtyard in town. There may not be deals but they're cheap, cheerful, and full of like-minded students. What's not to love?
Best areas for student nightlife in Manchester
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.
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.
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.
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.
The best student clubs in Manchester
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 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.
FAC251 – The Factory
A classic club on the Manchester scene that is intrinsically linked to the city's musical heritage, Factory has been a mainstay on the student scene for a long long time. From Quids-In Mondays, where drinks are £1, to Rewind Tuesdays, where entry is free, the club is ideal for those wanting a cheap midweek session. Plus, across the three floors, they play a wide variety of music genres ranging from drum and bass to indie rock, so it's an easy choice to appease all.
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!
Manchester’s home of all things Indie, 42’s is a hedonistic hole of smoke and strobes, cheap drinks, and sing-along indie classics that always delivers a wild ride of a night. Found just on Deansgate, this club is perfect for students with an alternative inkling, and especially perfect for those who want to be able to get hammered for less than a tenner. There's no place like the sticky floors of 42s, and with a variety of student nights to choose from, we’re sure that you’re going to end up here at least once during your time in Manchester.
The best student bars in Manchester
We challenge you to speak to anyone who studied in Manchester and didn't frequently spend a chunk of their loan in Courtyard. Found right near both university campuses, and offering up some of the best drink prices in the whole city centre, the late-night bar is the absolute pinnacle of Mancunian student drinking. Plus, its got a huge beer garden/courtyard (the name kind of gives it away), that is always full in the summer with top-tier vibes. A true student essential in Manchester.
256 Wilmslow Road
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.
A cult classic amongst the University of Manchester contingent, nestled away in the middle of their campus area, Big Hands in a cosy and picturesque establishment, lauded for its great atmosphere and awesome tunes. Plus, it has a stunning rooftop terrace that is among the best in the area and is always rammed when the sun comes out to play.