Bees, bars, and the best chip butties - 8 things only locals know about Manchester

Manchester, UK

Manchester rocks, there’s no two ways about it. Check out local resident Reece Donlan’s hidden highlights.

The place where the industrial revolution first fired up the furnace makes Manchester the king of the north. The canals, the Northern Quarter, the massive music scene may the headline attractions but where do the locals actually go? Here are 8 things only locals know about Manchester:

That rising stars get made in the factory

What every city needs is a mega arts centre to put it on the map, and the freshly unboxed Aviva Studios, which opened this month, is Manchester’s pin drop. Factory International’s new location is the UK’s largest cultural project to open since London’s Tate Modern so kind of a big deal. The space-agey looking venue is stuffed to the rafters with exhibitions, live music, stage productions, community projects, new talent and much more. Our top tip this season? Manc legend Johnny Marr on guitar accompanied by a full orchestra. Love it.

Where you’ll find best place to shop

Whether you’re grunge, goth, or simply gorgeous; shopping emporium Afflecks is one of the must-see locations on this list, slap bang in the heart of Manchester. With its 60+ unique clothes stores, to its tattoo and piercing parlours, this four-floor building has been a monument for all Mancunians and their entrepreneurial spirit since 1982. As well as hosting a huge array of alternative music-related clothing, those who love the feel just as much as they do their partners can even get married here.

What the buzz is around the bees

Walking around Manchester, you’ll stumble upon multiple iterations of a bee etched upon buildings, benches, and buses. Originating as a Victorian branding exercise, city fathers decided upon a coat of arms that included ‘seven bees to convey the work done across the seven seas’. The ‘Manchester Bee’ is a representation of the centuries-old proud Mancunian soul, success, and the locals' ability to work cohesively (like a hive of worker bees).

That MCR is actually a bit Hollywood

With its wonderful architecture and Victorian decor, certain areas of Manchester are hot spots for Hollywood and UK filmmakers to shoot period dramas such as Captain America, Peaky Blinders, Sherlock Holmes. The Northern Quarter’s brownstone buildings often make an inexpensive stand-in for New York. Other key locations include Salford Lads and Girls Club used for multiple scenes in 90s drama Cold Feet, and Britain's oldest public library, Chetham’s Library which appeared in the 2019 film Tolkien.

That the best museums are free

Recognised as one of Manchester’s few free secret gems, this former police station, now the Greater Manchester Police Museum, holds historical archives for Manchester’s vast police history as well as century-old equipment. It also acts as an important resource for community engagement and learning. Visitors can talk to staff about policing in general and perhaps learn about its redesigned interior which reflects its past, serving as a reminder of Victorian policing.

The location of Yesterday’s Papers

The entertainment hub ‘Printworks’ has a multitude of bars, restaurants, and even a cinema. But before it was home to such delights, it was the site for newspaper printing publications such as the Manchester Evening Chronicle and the Daily Mirror. If you look up above the neon signs you can see subtle reminders of the historical importance of the building. You may even also be able to hear a faint buzzing from the rooftops which has its very own beehives, which source honey then sold at Hard Rock Café for various charities across Manchester.

Where to find the best restaurants and bars

Manchester is flush with hidden bars and restaurants, some in plain sight, others tucked behind fake doors. It pays to search down every street of this culturally rich city. With no less than 15 eateries featured in the Michelin Big Gourmand guide plus the Michelin-starred Mana you’re in the right place to be wined and dined. And the city’s equally strong on street food and café options; let our food tour lead you to Manchester’s tastiest bits.

D'You Know What I Mean?

I swear down (truthful), Manchester is ripe with slang but it’s nowt (nothing) you can’t grasp over time, and with plenty of practice, you’ll sound just like one of the Gallagher brothers. Mancunians are often buzzin’ (excited) when they find a decent chip butty (sandwich) at dinner (afternoon meal), but most will think it ‘angin’ (disgusting) without gravy. It’s also important that every food establishment has a mint (very good) brew (tea) available and that they leave the bag in for a well (very) long time.