The famous Canal Street by day and by night.
Yes, bookings are now open and places are filling up fast! You can find full details over on the Entertainments Page. All signed up delegates should have already been contacted via newsletter to let them know this, but I just wanted to share a bit more about what’s available, and why we chose it.
Back in October 2012 JL (Jamie) Merrow and I took a trip to Manchester to check out venues for the Meet. Not only did we pick the splendid Macdonald hotel where the main event will be held, but we explored some of the more quirky and welcoming bars, cafés and restaurants within the nearby Gay Village. I even had to sample the beer in every bar we went into. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it! One thing I learned was that Manchester drinkers like their fancy, premium continental lagers, and I was bowled over by the choice. The British beer selection was excellent too, and I’d single out The Molly House as having a particularly impressive collection. I’d love to have arranged one of our evening events there, but unfortunately it’s just too small to hold a group like ours. However, I urge anyone interested in beer and/or spirits to check it out at some point over the weekend. Also, the decor was gorgeous and the staff were lovely. Can’t ask for more than that!
Despite the distractions of beer, food was our most pressing concern. We wanted to find places that were welcoming, cosy and with excellent food for both the Friday and Saturday nights. The first place we ate, Taurus, ticked all the boxes. It’s right at one end of Canal Street, has a history of supporting the local LGBTQ community, and not only was the food delicious, but the staff were delightful. Head chef Nosheel came out to talk us through potential menu choices for a large group. We would have arranged our main Saturday evening event there straight away, but we still had a whole list of places to check out, and Taurus wasn’t really big enough to hold the whole group if we got the numbers signing up that we were hoping for.
However, after a couple of hours trekking through the pubs and clubs on the list we came to the conclusion that nowhere could beat Taurus. What were going to do for the other night, though? Nowhere else really measured up. We were still discussing it the next morning, on our way to a café that had been recommended to us: the Richmond Tea Rooms. I’d heard it was decorated with an Alice in Wonderland theme, and I couldn’t wait to see what it was like and sample their cakes. We’d never considered it as an evening venue because it was a cafe, but wonder of wonders, when we got in there we discovered that it also had a back room bar, decked out in quirky Victorian style and with an impressive cocktail menu. Our Saturday night venue was settled, and with only half an hour to spare before we caught our trains home!
Since then I’ve been in contact with some Manchester cabaret performers to put on a show for us, and arranged a champagne reception at the Richmond on the Saturday night. Should be a great way to finish off the day!
For the final part of our entertainments I wanted to organise something different. As Jamie and I walked around the Gay Village we were full of questions. Set into the street everywhere were rainbow flag mosaics, apparently marking some spot of LGBTQ historical interest. We wanted someone to tell us more. We wanted a guide. I got in contact with the Manchester tourist board and they recommended an experienced guide who regularly runs walking tours around the Village. His name’s John Ryan, and he certainly knows his Manchester history! He’s also a chair of Gaydio, the Manchester radio station based in the Village, and has produced documentaries about the history of the area for both television and radio. I’ve chatted to John and I know you’re all going to find him an excellent tour guide. He’s promised to keep it a gentle pace, and fortunately the Gay Village is a compact area so you won’t wear out your shoe leather 🙂
We’re offering the same hour-long tour each night, so as many of you as possible should have a chance to find out more about this fascinating, vibrant and beautiful area of Manchester.
I hope you’ll all be joining us on as many of the entertainment events as you can manage. However, if for any reason they’re not your thing, rest assured there’s somewhere to suit everyone in Central Manchester. We really will be spoilt for choice!