MANCHESTER: With an energetic atmosphere and an impressive cultural history, you can sense a feeling of pride among the people of Manchester – and rightly so. The city’s reputation as a party town is upheld by a huge demand for good quality club nights, there’s a strong network of emerging live bands that could easily compete with London, and Manchester’s large artistic community continues to thrive. From the Northern Quarter, to Fallowfield, to the city’s world famous football stadiums, there’s always a palpable buzz in the air to remind you that Manchester really is the place to be. So if you’re taking up residency here, there’s a plenty of scenes to get your teeth into, and if you’re just visiting, then you’ve potentially got one hell of a weekend ahead of you.

Fallow Cafe

Formerly the Trof Fallowfield, this fun and friendly cafe sits right in the heart of Manchester’s student community. Pound-a-pint mayhem this isn’t, however. Rather, as the sister venue of the larger Ruby Lounge, the Fallow Cafe is something of an alternative hub, with its upstairs room hosting live bands, film screenings, quizzes, open mic sessions and clubnights such as ‘I Got A Date With The Night’ – which featured an exclusively female track selection ranging from Björk to Beyoncé. From breakfast butties to Arancini Di Riso, the Fallow Cafe’s menu is adventurous but affordable, and their American style breakfast pancakes are perfect Instagram material. So what about the drinks? There’s a wide variety of fresh fruit smoothies and indulgent milkshakes on offer and as the evening draws in there’s an impressive cocktail menu and a selection premium bottled beers in the fridge to tempt you.

Piccadilly Records

As a business that’s remained credible while weathering the turbulent storm of the music industry, Piccadilly Records remains one of the best records shops in the UK. Opening in 1978, it’s probably fair to say the shop is a cornerstone of Manchester’s music scene, and since going online as early as 2000, the shop has earned international respect for stocking and shipping out hard-to-find releases. Today, the shop stocks a proudly diverse selection of indie, psych-rock, funk, jazz and experimental alongside more dance-floor orientated genres such as disco, balearic and dance hall. They’ve truly embraced the vinyl market’s major resurgence. While there’s plenty of rarities and obscurities on the shelves (legend has it that New York indie-dance outfit LCD Soundsystem would drop by whenever in town to pick up imported disco from their home city), the shop is known for its approachable staff and friendly atmosphere, so don’t be scared off if you don’t know your Pet Shop Boys from your Pere Ubu.

Islington Mill

Tucked away in a post-industrial pocket of Salford, the Islington Mill might not instantly appeal to the glamour-seeking tourist, but for those who feel more home in Berlin than Benidorm, a trip to this independent arts hub is a must. Founded in 2000, the former Victorian mill’s five storeys host exhibitions and artist residencies, a free arts academy, screen printing work shops, Sunday markets and records fairs as well as leftfield club nights and underground live bands. With the Islington Mill’s passionate team taking inspiration from the avant-garde philosophy of the Situationist movement and the anti-authoritarian spirit of punk, this place is run with an inclusive, liberal and DIY ethos. It’s an institution to be admired and supported, so have a look at their programme and splash out on that (small) cab fair to Salford.

Joshua Brooks

Sat on the corner where Charles Street and Princes Street meet, Joshua Brooks’ raw red brick aesthetic pays homage to Manchester’s past while feeling sharply on-trend at the same time – it’s all in keeping with the hip but traditional nature of what’s going on inside. Upstairs, the decor feels stylish but relaxed, and for those in search of a decent pint, there’s simply no arguing with Joshua Brooks’ bar, which includes five rotating cask lines, three guest kegs, eleven draft lines and two real ciders. Downstairs, you’ll find Joshua Brooks’ legendary ‘rave cave’, the club venue which hosted The Chemical Brothers first residency in the 90s and won DJ Mag’s ‘Best Small Club of 2014‘ award due to its habit of attracting some of the finest talent in dance music including Disclosure, Joy Orbison and members of Berlin’s techno royalty label Ostgut Ton. So, whether you’re looking to party until the early hours or simply chill out with a quality craft beer in you’re hand, Joshua Brooks comes highly recommended.

Oi Polloi

With stock that ranges from streetwear to smart casual, sneakers to sandals and windbreakers to wool overcoats, this independent men’s clothing store caters for the party-ready hipster and the young creative as well as the more mature man. As the store’s blog and tumblr posts testify, Oi Polloi is run by a team with practically impeccable taste, and their store stocks a selection that includes popular brands such as Carhartt, Norse Projects, Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike and Edwin alongside more obscure labels from Japan, Munich and Oi Polloi’s in-house label Cottonopolis – named after an old-fashioned term for Manchester during the industrial revolution. Although Oi Polloi has earned a reputation of prestige by getting their hands on the odd head-turning rarity (the Manchester Evening News reported that their very-limited Adidas Ardwick trainer had sneaker freaks queuing outside for 48 hours), the shop is also a great place to visit for the more casual dresser who simply wants to give their wardrobe a quick spruce. Guys, you really can’t go wrong here.

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