| As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Those early dates – especially the first one – are your chance to show off your good points, and there’s no better way of doing that than choosing a date venue where awkward silences are all but impossible. If you’re in or around Manchester, you’re definitely in luck: the city has a wealth of interesting and exciting places to take someone where you’re guaranteed to impress your date. From award-winning bars and restaurants to altogether more thoughtful pursuits, here are all the best date night ideas Manchester has to offer.
1. Have a laugh
There’s no better ice-breaker than laughter, so a date at a comedy club can be a real winner. Manchester has some great established venues like the Comedy Store, the Frog and Bucket and the Hot Water Comedy Club where you can see some of your favourite comedians alongside up-and-coming acts. Also, keep your eyes open for the major theatres like the Lowry and the AO Arena where the megastars of mirth perform. But don’t forget the countless open-mic nights in pubs all across the city.
2. Push the boat out with a table for two
If you have deep pockets (or just know how to look after your pennies), you can splash out on a really good meal at one of Manchester’s renowned restaurants. The buzz around the city is unmistakable, with celebrity haunts like The Ivy setting up shop here, and the much respected French at the Midland really raising the bar. There are also the gastronomic thrills of El Gato Negro and Fazenda for some high-quality Mediterranean delights, and for the best views in (and of) the city, get the lift up to Cloud 23 in the Beetham Tower.
3. A thriftier dinner
Of course, dining out in Manchester can be as inexpensive as you like. As you’d expect of the city that’s second only to London in terms of the student population, you can get properly fed in relaxed surroundings all over the city. Most lively is probably the Northern Quarter, but Spinningfields is giving it a run for its money, and the Corn Exchange’s most recent incarnation as a foodie’s paradise is proving to be the most successful use of this iconic old building in recent history. And don’t forget Chinatown and the Curry Mile for some Eastern cuisine that will spice up the evening. Whatever your taste for dates in Manchester, you’ll definitely have your fill.
4. Bowl them over with your striking flair
Manchester loves ten pin bowling, and it’s a great way to spend an hour before a meal or a drink. When it comes to the venue, you’ve got options, too. Sure, there are the chains, the big multi-lane bowling alleys in the Trafford Centre and the Printworks where you can usually just turn up and get rolling. But if you book ahead, you can go for something like the Dog Bowl, an altogether more intimate place with just five lanes and a really cool 1950s vibe.
5. Slide away
If you sense your new date likes the active lifestyle, why not take them skiing? Don’t worry, you don’t have to fly them to Courchevel (that’s a second date thing) – you can go for a ski right next to the Trafford Centre at Chill Factore. As well as the huge slope with real snow, you can try tobogganing or indoor climbing, and there are a few bars and restaurants in the venue for a little après-ski entertainment. In winter, the city usually also puts on a skating rink or two around the Christmas markets, so look out for them if it’s seasonal.
6. Red Devils or Sky Blues?
There’s nothing quite like the roar of the crowd to get your pulse racing. If you or your partner have an affiliation one way or the other, why not take them to Old Trafford or the Etihad? You can watch the heroes of the city battle it out with whoever’s unlucky enough to be visiting (or if you have a really good ticket source, against each other), then make your way to the city centre for a night that’s guaranteed to be lively and fun whether the home team won or lost.
No, come back! One of the phenomena that has gripped the world over the past few years is escape rooms, so if you’re looking for unusual things to do in Manchester, it’s worth a spin. There are all sorts of themed escape rooms from WW2 code-breaking to pirates, bank jobs and horror, so whatever floats your boat, this is a great way to get to know someone very well. Check out Escape Reality and Breakout Manchester for inspiration. Other fun activities in Manchester include the city’s own Crystal Maze (yes, the one-off the telly), although with a minimum booking of four people, it’ll have to be for that double date.
A date for every taste
So whether you’re looking for fun things to do at night in Manchester or have a whole day to spend with your new flame, we hope these ideas get the ball rolling – maybe literally. Just make sure you book your train ticket well in advance to get the best savings. If you love to laugh, savour the most exquisite tastes and perhaps do something thoughtful together, the city has all you need. Whether the person you take lives up to the excitement and individuality of the city itself, only time will tell.