From the Bee Gees in the 70s, through to the Madchester days of the 90s, Manchester’s musical heritage is legendary. And if you’re staying in one of our Manchester hotels for a city break, you’ll find the music scene is just as rich and diverse today, thanks to an amazing choice of top venues scattered around town. From up-and-coming acts to already-household names, lucky Mancunians could watch an amazing gig any night of the week at places like The Deaf Institute, Manchester Arena and the Albert Hall.
One of the best-known Manchester venues is the O2 Apollo. An essential stopping-off point for major comedy and music acts when they’re on tour, it’s played host to everyone from Peter Kay to Rag’n’Bone Man - all very different to when the Apollo first opened its doors back in August 1938 as a cinema and variety hall. Although it stopped showing films back in the 1970s, some things haven’t changed and the O2 Apollo has kept many of its fabulous art deco features, such as its distinctive glazed white terracotta facade.
But while the Grade-II listed building is impressive, it’s the list of past performers that have made the O2 Apollo a mecca for music lovers. In 2010 Johnny Marr from the Smiths named the Apollo as his favourite music venue, and legends such as David Bowie, Elton John and Prince have all appeared on stage here. And if you’re in town to catch a legendary gig of your own, rest assured that there are plenty of Premier Inn hotels near the Manchester Apollo, that are perfect to make sure your city break hits all the right notes.
From cutting-edge gigs to music aimed at the older generation, the O2 Apollo has pretty much every genre covered.
If your favourite comedian is touring the UK with their sell-out show, chances are they’ll appear at the O2 Apollo when they’re in Manchester. Peter Kay, John Bishop and Russell Brand have all got people laughing in the aisles in the past, and the lineup looks just as sparkling in the coming months.
With past shows from the likes of the Charlatans, Bananarama and UB40, the O2 Apollo is great if you like your music with a touch of nostalgia. There’s also the best in alternative music from the likes of the War On Drugs and Fleet Foxes. Even pop favourite Harry Styles has appeared here - and famously got hit with a kiwi fruit.
Driving to the Manchester O2 Apollo? The car parks only open an hour before the doors, so if you were planning on making it a day trip, it’s best to park up somewhere in town and walk to the gig.
Whether you’re at the Apollo to dance til you drop, or just sit back and enjoy some comedy, the venue has the facilities that let you do just that.
You’ll find the Manchester Apollo at Stockport Road, Ardwick Green, Manchester M12 6AP and its phone number is 0844 477 7677. The venue is flexible and your concert can be part seated, part standing or all seated - check the website to see what kind of event it is. Capacity-wise, expect a maximum audience of 2,693 for seated events or 3,500 for standing events.
With no air conditioning, the O2 Apollo’s great if you like your gigs to be hot and sweaty. There’s no cash machine inside, but all four bars and the snack kiosk take contactless payment. You can leave coats and bags at the cloakroom for a small charge, and even pick up free ear plugs from points of sale. First-aiders attend every event and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the venue.
Gigs normally start at 7pm and finish at 11pm, and any different timings will be posted on the event pages of the Apollo’s website or on its social channels, so it’s best to check these pages before you travel. You can buy tickets at the box office counter from 5pm on event days only, otherwise you can book tickets from Ticketmaster using the phone number 08444 777 677.
The smaller car park on the Hyde Road side of the building has spaces for disabled gig goers with a limited number of spaces available on a first come, first served basis. There are viewing platforms available for standing shows and wheelchair spaces for seated shows. Level access is available throughout and there’s one accessible toilet, but you’ll need to ask staff to open it.
Luckily, there are loads of things to do that are an easy reach from the O2 Apollo - great if you were hoping to add a day of sightseeing to your big night out. Less than half a mile away you’ll find the Manchester Museum and it’s well worth a wander round. It’s crammed full of wonders of the natural world, from mummies and dinosaur skeletons to the cute live exhibits in its famous vivarium. It won’t cost you a penny, either.
And if the thought of going to a gig has put you in the party mood, get your everning off to a great start by visiting the Canal Street area of the city. Known as Gay Village, the pedestrianised walkways are lovely for a stroll and its bars and restaurants are buzzing, both day and night.
Inside the venue you’ll find four bars and a snack kiosk selling sweets and crisps. But where should you head for something more substantial? There aren’t too many restaurants in the near vicinity of Manchester Apollo, but head back towards Piccadilly Station (just a five minute taxi ride or 15 minute walk away) for a wide array of bars and restaurants, many with pre-show dining options.
Just a 15 minute walk from the O2 Apollo (back towards Piccadilly Station), is the awesome Grand Daddy’s Diner. With gourmet burgers, chicken wings and more milkshakes than you can shake a brioche bun at, this American-themed diner is the perfect place to soak up all that gig lager. It’s all so beautifully presented, too - enormous burgers are served on wooden trays, with cute aluminium pails for its fries. Make sure you smother them in the not-to-be-missed special sauce.
If you love sport almost as much as you love music, you’ll be in heaven at The Green. Right next door to Piccadilly Station, this indoor golf bar has booths that transform into mini arenas, letting you play a round with your friends as you drink. But it doesn’t end there - you can also play pool, FIFA, sing some karaoke and watch major sports game on the huge screens. Food-wise, there’s pizzas, burgers and hot dogs available, and plenty of beer to wash it all down.
The O2 Apollo is just a mile outside the city centre in Ardwick, an easy 15 minute walk from Piccadilly Station. Although there is parking available, it’s far easier to take public transport and avoid the inevitable queues to get out when everyone leaves the gig at the same time.
Put M12 6AJ into your satnav, then head to one of the venue’s two car parks. The largest is off Marshall Street, while the smaller one is on the Hyde Road side of the building. Both cost around £7 and open an hour before the doors open for your event.
By bus and tram
There are a number of buses that run from the city centre to the venue, including the 192, 201, 203, 204, 205 services. The nearest Metrolink tram stop can be found at Piccadilly Station, and it’s a 15 minute walk from here to the O2 Apollo.
The nearest mainline train station is Piccadilly. Get off here and then catch a taxi - it’s just five minutes to the Apollo. You can also catch the train to Ardwick Station, which is a 10 minute walk from the Apollo, and just a three minute train ride from Piccadilly Station.