The best places to celebrate graduation in Manchester

The hard work is over, you've chucked your hat for the photos, now it's time to celebrate in style...

By Lucy Holt | Last updated 16 July 2024

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These are the spots you need to head to to make the most of your graduation, whether it’s somewhere family friendly, posh and upmarket, or places you can let your hair down.

Where to go for free fizz

Complimentary fizz with a view at 20 Stories

Toasts the heights of your success at Spinningfields destination 20 Stories. Graduates receive a free glass of fizz when they dine. On Monday to Friday 12pm – 3pm you can enjoy two courses for £27.50 or three courses for £32.50. At dinner time you can enjoy three courses for £37.50. We can’t think of a better view to enjoy while kicking back after all your hard work. Available 8th-19th July 2024, just be sure to book in advance.

Free cava at La Bandera

This hidden away tapas place is known for quietly and consistently delivering some of the best Basque cuisine around. It comes in the form of moreish tapas and pintxos and expansive platters of seafood and cured meat. A great family spot (if you’re okay with sharing), plus there’s a free bottle of cava if your group is four or more, or a glass each if you’re a smaller group. Booking is required.

Two courses for £35, three for £40 and complimentary fizz at Embankment Kitchen

With a special graduate set menu includes two courses for £25 or three courses for £40, plus a complimentary glass of fizz for the graduate, graduation at Embankment Kitchen within CitySuites is a decadent affair. Dishes include salmon and lobster linguine, Lebanese stuffed aubergine, and pan-fried duck breast. These guys pride themselves on finding the best quality ingredients from around the North West and make everything from scratch in-house.

Complimentary fizz at Exhibition

Exhibition are somewhere between a food hall and a fine dining restaurant, somehow managing to offer something for everyone while maintaining a cool mystique too. It helps that they have three separate kitchens operating under their one impressive roof. Diners can order from the menus at Osma (sleek Scandi small plates), Baxaturi (meat and fish grilled perfectly grilled the Basque way) and Jaan (the Persian kitchen where everything is served on flatbread). Graduates get a free glass of fizz, or a whole bottle if our group is over six people. Make sure to book though.


Elevated Mediterranean restaurant Fenix celebrates all things wisdom with a graduation menu that promises to be decadent and memorable. If you book onto their Feast of the Wise menu, you can expect a meal inspired by the Agean islands, including dishes like halloumi tempura with yuzu, hollandaise espuma and shiso vinaigrette, and chicken antichuco. A scholarly tone is created with ornate scrolls featuring quotes from ancient philosophy. There’s drinking as well as thinking though: Graduates receive a complimentary glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne on arrival. Just book with the code FENIXGRADUATE.

Spritzes for graduates and Prosecco for everyone else at MAYA

If you’re looking to impress, MAYA is sure to do the trick. An elegant venue over three floors, it’s located on the corner of Chorlton Street and Canal Street, right in the heart of town. This makes it a tempting next destination following on from ceremonies at Manchester Central, The Bridgewater Hall and the like. With a menu of polished takes on French, Italian and British classics, and a complimentary spritz for the graduate and Prosecco for everyone else, your party are in safe (and sophisticated) hands.

Free chamapagne and sharing cocktails at Tattu

Modern Chinese restaurant Tattu really know what they’re doing when it comes to extravagance. As well as serving up a menu of some of the most visually stunning dishes we’ve experienced, the decadent interiors also make an impact. If you dine from their Wisdom of the Dragon menu – two courses are £28.50 and three are £33.50 – graduates can enjoy a complimentary glass of EPC Brut Champagne, while the whole table can enjoy a complimentary Golden Celestial Dragon sharing cocktail. The theme of good fortune is continued as graduates receive a scratch card with the chance to win a table for two.

Prosecco and G&Ts on the house at Three Little Words

Over at restaurant-slash-bar-slash-distillery Three Little Words, graduates receive a free G&T when they dine (or a glass of fizz if gin doesn’t whet your whistle). If there’s more than four of you, you get a whole bottle of Prosecco for the table. Nestled under a railway arch and with loads of contemporary small plates, this is the cool choice if you’ve got more adventurous foodies in your graduation party. You don’t even have to book, though it is advised.

Where to go for a celebratory lunch


From the 8th to the 24th of July, Fenix are leaning into all things ancient Greece with their Feast of the Wise menu, specially for graduates. The decadent menu begins with a pita, houmous and guacamole bowl, followed by halloumi tempura with yuzu, hollandaise espuma and shiso vinaigrette, and chicken antichuco. Orzo with langoustine and feta and smoked iberico ribs come next, concluding chocolate crème brûlée. It’s a celebration of knowledge, but the main thing you need to know is to book in advance with the code FENIXGRADUATE.


Think Hawskmoor is a bit out of reach for a graduation do? Their express lunch menu says think again. At two courses for £28 or three for £31, it’s a more pocket-friendly way to experience some of the best steak and seafood the city has to offer. You simply can’t argue with mains like roasted hake or rump steak and chips and deserts like peanut butter shortbread. Don’t skip the cocktail menu though – ultra polished serves like the double melon daiquiri and the sour cherry negroni are sure to hit a jubilant note.


Kala is part of chef Gary Usher’s tight-knit family of absolutely top flight restaurants, which also includes firm favourites like Didsbury’s Hispi. You’d struggle to find better value in the whole of Manchester, given the quality of the cooking on display here. Their lunch special offers up two courses for a bafflingly reasonable £15 or three for £20, taking in dishes like Greek courgette fritters, chicken gyros and roasted aubergine with tahini, all served in a very smart dining room on spiffy King Street. Just right for the occasion, in our view.


With an array of vegetable-centric (but not exclusively veggie) Middle Eastern dishes inspired by the streets of Paris, Maray’s graduation menu is an enticing affair. For £23 you get a mezze starter and two main plates, and for £28 you get all that plus a dessert. It’s a real crowd-pleasing option for a group that loves to get stuck into sharing dishes. We’ve got our eyes on the whipped goat’s cheese, the spiced lentil and rice mujadara and (as always) the disco cauliflower. There’s a complimentary glass of fizz or alcohol-free alternative on arrival too.

The Midland Hotel

Manchester establishments don’t come much more iconic than The Midland. The historic hotel, which stands on St Peter’s Square, has undergone a serious facelift in recent years, and now it’s one of the most stylish places to drink and dine in town. The Mount Street Dining Room & Bar are offering 20% off food for all evening diners with a booking of up to six guests when you pre-book with the quote ‘graduation’. They have an extensive spirits menu, while the inventive cocktails with ingredients like discarded banana peel rum and bramble and tarragon shrub fit the bill if you’re in the mood for something special, and the room itself is truly stunning. You can also take 20% off the cost of your stay between Monday 15 and Thursday 25 July when you use the code MMUGRAD. You can also book your afternoon tea, with the tea rooms opening additionally on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 July, especially for graduation celebrations.

Where to go for a celebratory cocktail

The Refuge

Housed inside an imposing baroque building on Oxford Road – an extremely photogenic back drop for all your graduation snaps – entering The Refuge feels like stepping back in time. Their cocktail menu is a more contemporary affair, comprising signature drinks and sophisticated takes on classics. How about a celebratory The Glamour of Manchester, with raspberry gin, elderflower liqueur and foam? Or if things perhaps haven’t gone to plan there’s the In Case of Emergency with kahlúa, orange vodka and salt. Want to toast your success with something bubbly? Their spritz menu is certainly worth a peruse too.

The Portico Library Cafe

If you’re not sick of the library, why not lean into all things academic for your graduation celebrations. A real living slice of history, The Portico Library is certainly ornate and charming, but this 19th century literature-lovers’ paradise is also well suited for food lovers too. Their cafe serves homemade cakes and hot drinks, as well as a brunch and lunch menu. For a tranquil light bite after the chaos of a graduation weekend, we couldn’t think of anywhere more fitting.