Manchester Academy

Things to do in Manchester | Manchester Academy

As the birthplace of top stars, from Take That to Oasis, Manchester is well-known for its musical heritage, with iconic venues to match, including one of the pinnacles of the city’s varied gig-going scene right on campus, at Manchester University.

Manchester Academy has a history that goes right back to the 1960s when legends like The Who, Small Faces and even Jimi Hendrix played to crowds of excited concert-goers. These days, the Academy is actually a collection of four music venues, all located either in or near the University’s Union building on Oxford Road. But while the Academy may have expanded over the years, what hasn’t changed is the sheer calibre of talent that appears here. You’d be hard pressed to think of any major music act that hasn’t played here, from Lady Gaga to the Foo Fighters.

Whether you’re planning to catch a major act or want to discover the next big thing, why not get your night off to the best possible start, by booking a hotel in Manchester? There’s a Premier Inn near the Manchester Academy that’s a stone’s throw away from all the on-stage action - and near some of the best shopping, eating and nightlife outside of London, too.

Manchester Academy

Manchester Academy


The venues

All the Academy venues are at the heart of the University of Manchester campus. As a whole, it can hold up to 5,000 people (and does so, when it combines all its venues for festivals such as Pangaea) but it’s normally split into four, allowing it to put on intimate and large-scale events.

Academy 1
The place to go to see some of music’s biggest names, Academy 1 is the largest venue with a capacity of 2,525. It’s the only Academy venue that stands alone - all of the others are housed within the University while Academy 1 is next door to it. In recent years, Muse, Prince, The 1975 and Adele have performed here.

Academy 2
Originally the Main Debating Hall, Academy 2 is the second largest venue space. It holds 900 people which makes for a fun, intimate atmosphere no matter who you’ve come to see. Great for watching up-and-coming bands like Sleaford Mods, you’ll find it on the first floor of the Union.

Academy 3
Formerly called the Hop & Grape, Academy 3 has been hosting gigs since the 1960s. More recently, legends such as Coldplay, Moloko and the Thrills have appeared on stage. Found on the top floor of the Union, it’s the smallest venue, with a 470-capacity.

Club Academy
Found in the basement of the Union building, this venue was formerly called The Cellar. Holding up to 650 gig-goers, it’s seen the likes of Best Coast, Deap Vally and Blossoms play to sell-out crowds before they got their big breaks.


Top tip

Although there is a cloakroom where you can store coats and bags, consider leaving large items at home. Searches are rigorous, so having a large rucksack may hold you and the rest of the queue up for a while.


Facilities

There’s no need to slum it while you rock out, because, since its refurbishment in 2008, the Academy has all the great facilities you’d expect from such a top notch venue.

All Academy venues can be found on the University campus, opposite the medical school. The address is Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PR and the phone number is 0161 275 2930. Under 14s must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18 years at all times. However, some shows (and all club nights) are for over 18s only.

There’s a walk-in box office in the main Students' Union building, or call to book tickets by phoning the Box Office on 0161 275 2930. If you’re picking up tickets, you can collect them from 6pm on the night of the show (but not before). If you’re attending a show in the main Academy, this has its own dedicated collection point.

Customers with access requirements should buy a ticket, then fill out an access requirement form. These are available online, and let you specify exactly what you need - and the venue will go to great lengths to accommodate you. You’ll be able to get into the venue 15 minutes early and carers may be able to get free tickets.


Things to do near Manchester Academy

If you’re coming to watch a gig at the Manchester Academy, why not make a day of it? It would be a shame not to explore Manchester University while you’re here. You could just wander around yourself, looking at some of the city’s finest (and oldest) architecture. Or book one of the free Heritage Tours, which will explain more of the University’s history and show you where the atom was first split. 

Also on campus you’ll find the Manchester Museum. Free to enter, its full of treasures from the natural world, from fossils to live amphibians.


Eating and drinking

As you'd expect given its campus location, most of the bars and restaurants near Manchester Academy are populated by students. However, on concert nights they get taken over by hundreds of music lovers of all ages, so you won’t feel outnumbered if your university days are a distant memory.

Academy 2, Academy 3 and the Club Academy have their own Student Union bar which is open to concert-goers for a pre or post-gig drink. Called Union Bar, expect great-value drinks, but don’t worry if you’re not a fan of lager, because there’s plenty of other tipples on offer, such as Prosecco and cocktails. Food-wise, burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and wraps are all the order of the day here. It may not be fine dining, but the food is well-priced, quick and tasty - and the perfect way to stop your tummy rumbling as you watch your favourite band.

There are plenty of great restaurants between the city centre and the university campus. Take The Laundrette, in the trendy First Street area. It prides itself on the fact it only serves carbs and cocktails - just what you need before a big night out. From the quirky decor with its subtle nods to a laundromat, to the menu (split into quirky sections like Pre Load, Full Load and Easy Care) nothing here is run-of-the-mill. Foodwise, the carbs are provided by pizzas and the famous triple mac n cheese, It’s all so tempting you may need a cocktail to help you decide and even these are deliciously different - maybe a Wafflin’ On Old Fashioned, a mix of bourbon, orange, maple syrup and a toasted waffle might take your fancy?

The hip Black Dog Ballroom always wins rave reviews, but its Northern Quarter location can be a little out of your way if you’re coming for a gig at the Academy. However, if you fancied checking it out, you’re in luck because the people behind the Ballroom have opened a sister bar with the same name, and it’s just a short walk along Oxford Road. Open until 4am, it’s the perfect place for an after-gig night out. Expect a New York speakeasy style cocktail bar, pool hall, rooftop terrace, karaoke lounge and a 400 capacity nightclub if you fancied a dance. Come on a Friday and you’ll find Prosecco is just £3 per glass - get some loaded sharing nachos or a pizza to soak up all the bubbles.


Getting to Manchester Academy

You’ll find all Manchester Academy venues on campus, opposite the medical school and Holy Name church. Academy 2, Academy 3 and Club Academy are within the University Of Manchester Students' Union building, while Academy 1 stands alone, but it’s right next door.

By car
Put M13 9PR into your satnav, then head to the official car park in Dilworth Street, accessed via Denmark Street and just off Oxford Road. Take some change, as you need pound coins to operate the barrier. The venue is just a one-minute walk from here.

By bus
From the city centre, catch a bus in the 40s from Piccadilly Gardens. Or catch a number 147 Oxford Link bus. It serves Manchester University, but only operates until 6.45pm. There is also a bus that goes from the front of the Palace Hotel on Oxford Road, direct to the Student’s Union.

By train
The nearest stations are Victoria Station (a 30-minute walk), Piccadilly (a 25-minute walk) or Oxford Road (a 15-minute walk). If that sounds too far, your best bet is to jump in a taxi from any of the stations which will take you to the door of the Academy.


Looking for a hotel in Manchester?

Whether you want to stay in the heart of Manchester, or in a leafy suburb, we've lots of hotels to choose from. There are hotels next to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly. And for those sports fans, there are hotels next to Old Trafford, the Etihad Stadium and the Manchester Apollo.