The week before Christmas calls for a round-up of the city’s best outdoor drinking destinations, as people finish work for the festive season and do the only thing they know how to in December, flock to the pubs!
Usually, we say goodbye to our favourite beer gardens and replace them with overcrowded, claustrophobic pubs, but below you’ll find an amazing catalogue of beer gardens and pop-up bars that will allow you to cosy up in the Christmas chill.
The Refuge Winter Garden & Terrace
The clue is in the name isn't it? The Refuge's Winter Garden is of course the perfect place to enjoy some cocktails over the colder months, and you won't even need to venture outdoors. The inclusion of the stunning tree, and the surround conservatory manages to whisk you away into a sort-of Narnia wonderland just without any Turkish Delight or evil witches. There's also their gorgeous new outdoor terrace too.
The Refuge, Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA
The Oast House
The Oast House in Spinningfields becomes even more charming than before during the winter months, with their iconic Christmas tipis as gorgeous and cosy as ever! The giant tipis are kitted out with a large fire place in the centre of the room and benches and tables occupying the outer rim. Whether you’re on a first date or just want to come out for a couple of drinks with your pals, you won’t have to barge your way through the crowd to get a drink from the main bar - there’s one already in the tipi, to save you some hassle. How convenient?
The Oast House, The Avenue Courtyard, Spinningfields, Crown Square, Manchester M3 3AY
Winter Dining Domes at Heaton Park
Heaton Park is always a hit with so many of us over the festive period, mainly because it provides a place for us to blow off those Christmas cobwebs and nurse our 7-day hangovers. But, this year the park introduced its heated winter dining domes, which have provided the cosiest setting to enjoy an afternoon tea or a three-course meal. The domes are situated in the park’s stables, but, don’t worry, you won’t be joined by any animals, just a selection of great food, cocktails and beer to enjoy snuggled up with your loved ones.
This 4 story behemoth features a huge Rooftop Garden featuring fire pits and lush foliage, alongside a fully retractable roof should you find yourself shivering on a particularly cold December evening. It's technically inside, but also technically outside - essentially walking a velvet tightrope of sophistication and function. There's no way you'll get cold in here, even if there's a storm belting about outside, you'll be nice and toasty and, even better, perfectly placed to ride it out with cocktails.
The Ivy Spinningfields, The Pavillion, Byrom St, Manchester M3 3HG
If you’re still yet to visit Ramona, what have you been doing?! The majority of my time is spent day-dreaming about their truffle potatoes. Anyway, alongside its amazing food offerings, the venue opened its winter village this year, and if your Christmas is usually full of tequila, log cabins and massive Detroit-style hot choccies, you might want to pay this place a visit! The venue has also been running weekly winter markets showcasing the best of Manchester’s independent businesses.
40 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JG
Escape to Freight Island
Escape to Freight Island has been a hit with Manchester folk and beyond since it opened its doors last year, and 2021 has seen the addition of its Winter Garden, too. This has made it one of the lushest places in the city to enjoy a mulled wine and some class food courtesy of vendors including; Northern Soul Grilled Cheese, Great North Pie and Krum. Nestled underneath a 45ft Christmas Tree, the space is heated and also houses an ice skating rink (maybe one to avoid after 12 mulled wines!)
Escape to Freight Island, 11 Baring Street, Manchester, M1 2PZ
The Old Abbey Tap House
Probably the best terrace that you’ve not heard of – the Old Abbey Tap House have a cracking outside bit – with cover, heaters, DJs, pizza and loads of craic. Once you’re here it’s hard to leave – especially when the shots come out.
The Old Abbey Taphouse, Guildhall Close, Hulme, M15 6SY
0161 226 2052
Terrace has been a staple of the Northern Quarter nightlife scene for years now, and come summer or winter, its beer garden is a divine retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city centre living. The bar offers a great list of cocktails and beer from around the world, as well as a menu full of wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, burgers and Sunday roasts, all of which can be enjoyed in the comfort of its heated terrace!
Terrace NQ, 43 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
0161 819 2345
The ultimate covering here – the concrete monstrosity of the Mancunian Way. Pair this with heaters dotted all around and you’ve got yourself a dry, wind-less, warm space in which to enjoy booze and food until you burst. The perfect Winter Terrace - Hatch is essentially just an entire beer garden.
The Black Friar
On the corner of two of Salford’s busiest roads sits The Black Friar, an idyllic gastropub serving an exquisite menu of festive feasts. An essential stop off point for anyone on a winter pub crawl, the venue has recently erected a number of handmade Winter Igloos in its beer garden, created by Grey Goose premium vodka. The domes are the ideal spot for a cosy Christmas night out with friends, with each one providing the perfect ambience, complete with cosy interiors and a warm, intimate atmosphere.
41-43 Blackfriars Road, Salford, M3 7DB
The Con Club
Con Club recently reopened its transformed, heated winter rooftop terrace, and they have a cracking new Christmas menu to go with it, too. The cosy rooftop cocktail den has brand-new heaters, thick blankets and glittering lights, transporting you to a proper winter wonderland, and the vibrant new Christmas menu offers some delectable winter favourite available for £25 for 2 courses, and £30 for 3.
48 Greenwood Street, Altrincham, WA14 1RZ
They spent about £1m doing up their terrace at Dakota last year, money that has definitely paid for itself in spades now that places can only open up outside. Covered, heated and actually really rather pretty – there are few better places to go in the city.
Dakota, 29 Ducie St, Manchester M1 2JL
0161 674 9180
Christmas Markets & Ice Chalets
If you weren’t already aware, Manchester’s Christmas Markets this year are basically going above and beyond anything you could ever imagine. Not only will there be the usual bars in which to sip some mulled wine, this year sees the introduction of Britain’s first ever Ice Village. This winter wonderland will consist of ice sculptures, ice cavern, ice rink and more importantly, an ice tavern. Serving all of your favourite hot and cold drinks, the ice tavern is the perfect place to venture for an authentic winter experience.
Christmas Markets, throughout the city centre
Nothing warms you up more than a big, hot, spicy curry and so getting your face wrapped around a big Lamb Nihari down at Zouk is the perfect remedy for a cold, dark winter day. Add to this an extensive outside terrace, which is heated, and you've got yourself one of the city's best winter garden experiences - one you can even enhance with a bit of Shisha should you want to partake.
Zouk Tea Bar & Grill, 5, The Quadrangle, Chester Street, M1 5QS
Having the highest terrace in the city and the most sought after view going, it would be criminal for 20 Stories not to keep their outdoor space open over the winter and as such they’ll have the roaring fire pits stoked throughout the cold, dark months to keep us drinking their cocktails and eating their food. There’s no denying the views are spectacular but they’ll be a whole lot better on a crisp, cold winter evening, wrapped up with a glass of warm mulled wine in your hands.
20 Stories, No. 1 Spinningfields 1 Hardman Square, Manchester M3 3EB
Sunset by Australasia
An absolute terrace revelation when it opened this Summer, Sunset in Spinningfields looks set to continue its alfresco offerings this winter, meaning endless hours of cocktails and Prosecco - mainly frequented by the city's most glamorous individuals. You also can't forget the food on offer here - with a Japanese inspired sushi and bento box menu from Australasia, although with it being cold I'd recommend their Shabu Shabu, a granite bowl filled with a lovely hot broth-noodle concoction.
Sunset by Australasia, 1 The Avenue, Manchester M3 3AP
Everyone goes crazy over YES – primarily because of its perfect mix of live music, street food, cheap beer and of course THAT rooftop terrace. Resembling something you’d find in the deepest, darkest parts of hipster Brooklyn, the rooftop terrace of YES is the perfect winter hideout, with half under cover, and the other half jam packed full of scorching heaters. The venue has also extended its outdoor drinking/dining offering, with additional seating available next to venue. Perfect.
YES, 38 Charles Street, Manchester. M1 7BD
Spinningfields' Bar Hütte's ‘Carol-oke’ huts can be rented out for an hour and 45 minutes and you’ll receive table service from a fully licensed bar, which will be serving plenty of yummy Christmas drinks including advocaat and brandy with whipped cream, i.e. Bombadino. If you’re not a fan of karaoke, their main après-ski bar - decorated with wood carvings and sheepskin furnishings is open too - if you fancy a spur-of-the-moment bev.
Bar Hütte, Spinningfields