Top 5 Alternative Music Venues in Manchester

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Photo of the interior of Night and Day Cafe Manchester
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Explore Manchester's world-beating music scene off the beaten-track

Eastern Bloc


5a Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 1DN

A record shop, specialising in UK underground genres and electronic dance, at night becomes one of Manchester’s most respected and visited live venues.

Opened by two members of 808 State in the mid-80s to supply ammunition to Manchester’s world-beating dance scene, it is to this day loved for keeping the 80s house vibes alive

Alongside serving specialist records that are hard to find in most cities, it also serves coffees, cakes, and other such bakery items in the day time. When it gets darker, Eastern Bloc’s modest room plays host to some of the biggest names in dance, including Calibre, Grooverider, Peverelist, and Mr Scruff.

A beloved music hub in Manchester, Eastern Bloc proudly tops the list.

See upcoming events here:

Stage & Radio

Photo of the downstairs of Stage & Radio Manchester
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43 Port Street, Manchester M1 2EQ

Another multi-purpose venue, punters can enjoy Stage and Radio’s jazz-influenced bar during daytime hours, with its exposed brick and wood-panel floor creating excellent Instagram-friendly ambience. Enjoy their impressive menu and cocktails at liberty.

When the day-trippers leave, attention goes downstairs, with a vastly contrasting interior. The chic, rustic theme gets swapped for pure industrial, with metal pillars, wooden beams, and an entirely different vibe of exposed brick.

Most importantly, Stage and Radio is packed with an insane VOID Air acoustics soundsystem to rival clubs double its size.

Hosting happy hours, burlesque shows, pub quizzes, and club nights, Stage and Radio has got something for everyone.

See their website here

Hidden Club

Photo of the interior of Hidden
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17 Downtex Mill Mary Street, Manchester M3 1NH

An award-winning music space, just outside the city centre, Hidden Club prides itself on prioritising up-and-coming talent, with rookies joining ranks with the stars.

With four rooms to explore, a neon outdoor space, and a heavy warehouse theme that looks as if it were unchanged from its industrial days, Hidden has become a core stronghold of Manchester’s late-night scene.

Hosting events throughout the week, with some of its biggest nights curiously on Thursday’s and Sunday’s, Hidden also comes with cheap tickets for even the bigger nights, starting at £10, with smaller nights only setting you back £3 in some cases. Seriously good value for a seriously good venue.

See their upcoming events here

Progress Centre

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Charlton Place, Manchester M12 6HS

Only opening in 2023, the Progress Centre has quickly become a fixture due to one key trick: an open-air, but covered, dancefloor. No more complaining about the ventilation, being covered in inch-thick bands of sweat, for the Progress Centre has seemed to solve the age-old issue.

Its summer roster includes Sasha and Digweed, DnB Allstars, Queer raves, and Continental GT. Launched by the team behind The Loft and Summer of Love, it prides itself in being community-led, with its promoters investing much time in discussing with locals how to best suit the venue to the people.

"It’s the community of dancers you do this for; it’s those who make this all possible; you’re asked if you’d like any dessert at the end of a meal, so why should it be any different when creating a club?” - promoter Olli Ryder

See what's on here here

Night and Day

Image via Time Out

26 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JN

Another café bar and venue for the list, Night and Day café is actually one of the most important music spaces in Manchester, and by virtue the nation.

Elbow’s Guy Garvey used the venues landline number as the bands contact number for how often they were in there, and when the venue was threatened with closure, Garvey talked of how important the venue was to their career, saying it should be given a Blue plaque and protected status. Musicians including Johnny Marr, Frank Turner and Tim Burgess came forward to show support during this period. It even got a name-drop in the TV show Lost.

It has been threatened with closure again, as a resident who moved there during the Covid pandemic was regularly making complaints, but a successful petition, again involving Johnny Marr and members of Elbow, saved it once more.

My advice? Go enjoy it while it’s still there. The UK is losing too many of its small venues, and Night and Day, despite being around for over 30 years, may not be immune forever.

See their website here