The neighbourhood guide to the Gay Village
The Gay Village, or just the Village, is your place to go for LGBTQ+ bars in Manchester. Centred around the pedestrianised, waterside Canal Street, it’s a community hub, a buzzy nightlife destination, and a chilled setting for daytime drinks. It’s also the home of the annual Manchester Pride Festival held on August bank holiday weekend.
The area has been a focal point for gay life in Manchester since the 1950s when the New Union became a meeting place for lesbians and gay men. The village really took off in the 1990s when continental bar culture was becoming a big thing in the city centre, and Manto (a bar and club in the spot now occupied by On Bar), was at the centre of it all.
In 1999 the TV drama Queer as Folk brought the Village international attention and for a while it was seen as ‘the’ place to go out in Manchester; not always a good thing when you’re trying to maintain a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.
Nowadays, with the rise of the Northern Quarter as Manchester’s main nightlife neighbourhood, you’re less likely to find Canal Street overrun with hen parties, and more likely to find the queer community and their allies having a top night out. The village is open and welcoming to people of all kinds of backgrounds so head over, be ready to chat, and you’ll have a brilliant time.