You’ve been offered a place at BIMM and will be heading to Manchester in the autumn – that’s great, congratulations! Now, to optimise your time as a fresher, here are a few things to know before the big move.
What to do first?
So, you’ve unpacked all your belongings and settled in. Now, go and get used to your new surroundings. The first thing I remember doing is heading out to explore! If you’ve never been to Manchester before, now is the perfect time to create a mental map of the city. It can be daunting at first. But really, it’s easy once you’ve familiarised yourself with the place.
Go for a drink with your new flat mates! It’s really important to establish a connection with them, especially if you’ll be living with them for a year. Get to know them, what they are studying, what music they like, etc. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown night out. It could be a couple of drinks together in a local bar or just chilling out at your digs.
Catch a gig
Go and see some live music! Manchester is well known for its music scene (for many it’s the main reason they decided to study here). There are some brilliant venues located in and around the city (which I’ll get to shortly), so go out and experience the new and exciting sounds that Manchester has to offer.
Parts of the city you need to see
The Northern Quarter tends to be on top of everyone’s list. It’s a hub of bars, eateries, music venues, shops and more. There is some brilliant graffiti dotted about that really adds character to the area. You’ve also got places such as the Gay Village, Castlefield and Deansgate which all hold a plethora of bars and attractions that will guarantee great days and night out.
Castlefield is great for exploring. The Bridgewater Canal has one of the nicest walks in the city and some great scenery if you’re into your photography.
You have musical landmarks like the Salford Lads Club and the Epping Walk Bridge as well as the biggest music library in the country located at the Central Library.
Best places for culture
Manchester offers so much in terms of culture. To begin with we have the Gay Village. This place is beaming with colour, friendly faces and great nights out. With its cheap drinks, fun music and being right in the heart of the city centre, it’s a no brainer.
If clubbing isn’t your thing, then exploring other cultural hubs such as the Manchester Art Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery is a great way to explore the history of the city’s art scene. Manchester Museum is also a fantastic place to gain more knowledge about the city that you’ll call home for three years (or more).
The city also has some great parks for times where you feel you need a bit of greenery. Heaton Park, Platt Fields and the Marie Louise Gardens are superb spaces if you fancy taking a walk within nature to get away from the noise and city lights.
Best places for live music
Manchester has some brilliant live music venues! I’ll start off with YES; probably the best place in the city for pretty much everything. I’ve found myself in here a lot since it opened in 2018, mainly because it’s a great place to come whatever the weather or mood.
They serve brilliant food with New York style pizza slices going for next to nothing and pints priced at £2.95 – it’s hard to argue why you wouldn’t want to come here, especially with the rooftop terrace!
YES is a great place to study during the day too, as it’s usually quiet. But in the evenings, you’ll find yourself surrounded by friendly people enjoying brilliant music. DJ’s in the bar, live music in the basement and the brilliant Pink Room make this music venue an incredible cultural hub for everyone. YES and Now Wave bring some of the world’s best new bands to Manchester with high profile names such as Blossoms, A Certain Ratio, Snail Mail, Homeshake, Shame and more all gracing its stage. I’ve lost count of the number of amazing performances I’ve seen in this venue. It’s a must!
Another one of my favourites is Fairfield Social Club. An amazing space that’s still quite new. Not only is it a live music venue, but it also does great food! The space hosts beer festivals along with the famous GRUB food Fair events, which showcase local independent food vendors who cater for all tastes!
If you’re into your techno, house or grime, you would’ve heard of The Warehouse Project already. They’ve moved down the road from the famous Store Street to Mayfield Depot (an old abandoned train station with a huge open space and a brilliant sound system. WP boast one of the greatest clubbing experiences in the country., I highly recommend buying a ticket for one of the upcoming events this autumn.
HATCH is another incredible space. DJ and acoustic performances are prominent in this outdoor venue, not to mention the amazing food and drink on offer! It’s situated under the Mancunion Way, just a stone’s throw from BIMM on Great Marlborough Street and YES. It’s a brilliant and vibrant location that’s perfect for chilled out evenings.
Other live music venues worth checking out include Gorilla and the O2 Apollo. Head to the smaller venues such as The Castle Hotel, AATMA and Gullivers and discover a hidden doorway into Manchester’s unknown musical world. You will no doubt find your new favourite artist in one of these venues, so get down and support the local music scene.
Best places for shopping
I’d recommend the Arndale, because you have all the necessities that you need there. The Trafford Centre can be okay; however, it’s quite the travel distance to get there! The Northern Quarter is great for shopping, especially for small businesses. It houses a great range of vintage clothes stores as well as charity shops for you to grab a bargain.
If you love vinyl, Piccadilly Records is the place for you. They cover pretty much every genre from ambient to metal! Whereas Vinyl Revival is also a brilliant option if you’re looking for rarities and more obscure releases. Afflecks is also great for second-hand clothing, vinyl, jewellery, fancy dress and more!