8 fun alternatives to ‘conventional’ nights out in Manchester

Nothing beats a good, boozy night out sometimes. Having increasingly nonsensical conversations, whipping out increasingly uncoordinated dance moves - it’s all good.


But occasionally you’ll sit there and think to yourself ‘what else is there to do?’ If you’re looking for a slightly more unconventional night out in Manchester, here are a few fun things you can do. These activities don’t have to involve booze at all - but many of them could do if you wanted.


Bowling is a great night because you get to throw things and put rude names on the screen. Being drunken just makes this all even funnier. Places to bowl in the city centre include the all new ‘Black Dog Bowl’ opposite the Ritz and All Star Lanes on Deansgate. Both will provide you with much food and booze (cocktails!) while you hurl heavy lumps of plastic around. A bit further afield, Hollywood Bowl do a deal on Friday and Saturday nights where you can get two games and two drinks for a tenner after 9pm (you have to book).


I don’t think I need to explain why karaoke, especially drunken karaoke, is fun. There is a wealth of karaoke bars to choose from in Manchester - specifically in China town. I’ve been to Vine and the Orchid Lounge - both provide facilities to let you shout loudly into a microphone in front of strangers. I’m sure there are many more karaoke holes to discover. 

Video games

If your idea of a perfect night is drinking cocktails and eating nachos while playing your favourite video games with your mates, get down to Kyoto Lounge next to the Footage. Whether you’re a hardcore or casual gamer, you’re sure to find something you like on a range of consoles - from shooters to arcade games to those games where you have to actually move about. It’s a nice bar too, with music and dancing, so it’s worth visiting even if you have no interest in gaming.


Chilling and passing around a shisha is some people’s idea of heaven. If you’re one of those people, you can smoke shisha in the city centre at Zouk near Manchester Student Village. A bit further afield there’s loads of choice down the curry mile - but bear in mind that you might not be able to drink. I like the curry mile because the neon signs and smell of cooking makes you feel like you’re on holiday. A bit of a rubbish holiday - but a holiday nonetheless.

Mini golf

If you’re on a date, mini golf is a good way to make your partner bend over without even asking them to. The closest place to Manchester to play mini golf is Paradise Island at the Trafford Centre. It’s got a tropical theme and it’ll keep you occupied for about an hour or so - unless you’re really very bad at mini golf.

Laser quest

If you fancy running around shooting your mates with lasers, then only Laser Quest will do. It’s right next door to the mini golf at the Trafford Centre. It’s not exactly a big night out as it closes at about 10.30pm, but you might be running about so much that you’ll be ready for bed by then. If you go earlier in the day, expect to be hurdling a whole lot of children who will probably thoroughly whoop your ass. 


As amazing as seeing a good film at the cinema is, it’s not really the best night out. You basically sit in a darkened room in silence for an hour or two (three if you’re seeing something directed by Peter Jackson). The pop-up cinema at Spinningfields during the summer is an exception to this, however. Being outdoors means you have a lot more leeway to talk and move about as you wish, making it a much more relaxed atmosphere. I went to watch Borat there a couple of years ago - it was very naaice.


There’s also the Route 66 drive-in cinema at Trafford Park, which sounds absolutely amazing. It’s Europe’s first outdoor digital cinema apparently - I’m not really sure why they chose rainy Manchester to start with. Iron Man 3 is on every night there at 8.25 until 2nd May. 

Ghost walk

I went on Flecky Bennett’s ghost walk a couple of years ago because it was on Groupon. I didn’t see any ghosts (surprisingly) but it was hilarious and really interesting - you really do learn a lot about Manchester. You get to stop in a pub or two along the way which really enhances the experience. I think Flecky does tours in the tunnels underneath the city as well, which sounds genuinely terrifying. 

Know any other unconventional nights out in Manchester? Let me know on my Twitter @themancreviewer