In Manchester for a big night out? You’re in luck, because this is a city that loves to party. From slick superclubs to swanky cocktail bars, you’ll find plenty of options if you want to let your hair down in style. But if you prefer a night out with a more underground feel, there’s no better place than the Warehouse Project.
The Hacienda may now be a block of flats, but this 12-week series of club nights more than fills the gap it left behind. Showcasing some of the biggest names in house, techno, grime and hip-hop, the Warehouse Project started life in 2006 in a disused brewery and has quickly gathered a world-wide reputation for its eclectic mix of DJs and musical acts, like the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox and the Happy Mondays.
Held every year from September to January, queues of visitors from all over the country join the mad-for-it Mancunians to line up to enter its pop-up venues, with most nights taking place in a former air-raid shelter in Store Street, right underneath Piccadilly train station.
After you’ve spent the night spent dancing until you drop, what better place to rest and recuperate than one of our Manchester hotels? Our Manchester Piccadilly hotel is just round the corner from the Warehouse Project’s Store Street venue and its comfortable beds and quiet rooms are the best place to rest your weary legs and ease the ringing in your ears.
Club nights take place every Friday and Saturday night throughout its 12-week run in the Store Street venue, but you’ll occasionally find one-off events happening at venues like The Albert Hall during the week. The festival culminates in a massive New Year’s spectacular, with parties on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Warehouse Project novice? Here’s all you need to know.
Expect an eclectic mix of DJs and bands, because the Warehouse Project is most famous for putting international performers on the bill with up-and-coming acts. 2017’s schedule saw Craig David joined by less-well-known garage acts like Dave Rodigan, Mistajam and Big Narstie. Every year since it opened, the programme reads like a who’s who of all the top names in dance music, with incredible DJs such as Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin, Pete Tong and Erick Morillo and bands like De La Soul, Happy Mondays, Chic, The Prodigy and Basement Jaxx.
The main venue
The main Warehouse Project venue is in Store Street, in a World War II air raid shelter right under Piccadilly Station. Used as an office car park during the day, every Friday and Saturday nights the space is transformed into a pop-up club with state-of-the-art lighting, huge sound systems and some of the biggest names in music on the planet. With a capacity of 2,000, its cavernous rooms give it a gritty vibe. Just don’t go expecting a slick super club with air conditioning and great facilities - it will be hot, sweaty and there’ll be portaloo style toilets.
Store Street is the main base for the Friday and Saturday club nights, but there are one-off events held at venues all over Manchester. These include the Old Granada Studios (the TV studios where they used to make Coronation Street) and the Albert Hall - a jaw-dropping former chapel with a fantastic stained glass window. Events are also held at the Manchester Academy, part of the University of Manchester complex on Oxford Road, and the O2 Apollo, a traditional Victorian theatre with a sloping floor and balcony area.
The queues and the entry curfew
One thing’s for sure, you’ll have to queue to get in. The line snakes around Piccadilly Station, but don’t think about having a can of lager while you wait as drinking on the streets of Manchester is banned. The other thing to watch out for is the entry curfew. While all of the club nights go on really late, most have a last entry time and this can be as early as 10.30pm. You'll find the time printed on your ticket. No one will let you in after that, and if you leave you can't get back in either. It’s all part of the club’s licence requirements to get everyone in as efficiently as possible.
As you might expect given its warehouse-style venue, facilities here are a little bit thin on the ground. Saying that, there is still disabled access, a bar and some portaloos.
The address of the main venue is Store Street, Manchester M1 2WA. There’s a strict over-18s policy at all venues, and ID is checked both on the way in and at the bars. Bring recognised ID with you to avoid disappointment: a passport or driver's license should do the trick.
There's free drinking water at the main bars and every venue has a medical team should you be taken ill. There is a cloakroom where you can leave coats and small rucksacks but, while women can take handbags into the club, man bags are completely banned. The dress code is casual, but not scruffy.
Tickets for all of the shows can be brought from the Warehouse Project’s official website as well as ticket agents such as Ticketmaster and Festickets. If there’s a performer you particularly want to see, make sure you don’t wait. Tickets sell like hot cakes and most club nights sell out - fast.
While it may have a basic feel, the Store Street venue is surprisingly quite accessible. There’s blue badge parking onsite, and dedicated accessible toilets in the courtyard and near the entrance to the venue. The access from the street is step-free and the venue is flat inside.
Fancy doing a little exploring before your big night out? Make sure you head to the Northern Quarter - it’s so close to Manchester Piccadilly! This trendy neighborhood has plenty to keep you occupied. There’s vibrant street art to admire, independent shops full of souvenirs to take home, not to mention some of the best restaurants and bars in Manchester.
Also worth a look is the famous Canal Street - one of Manchester’s liveliest neighbourhoods. Stroll the pedestrianised walkway by day, but make sure you stay until the sun comes down! During the evening it comes alive with people from the gay community from all over the world who flock to its bars, clubs, cafes and shops.
Whether you want a delicious meal to line your stomach, or just somewhere to grab a quick drink before all that dancing, all of Manchester’s most interesting bars and restaurants are just around the corner.
The concept here is simple: Indian street food and craft beers served communal-style at long tables. Boasting a totally vegetarian menu, prices here are cheap - nothing costs more than £6. But that doesn’t detract from the quality - the restaurant wins rave reviews for its curries and daal. But what’s really popular among club goers is the bhaji butty, a thick, crisp onion bhaji smothered in spiced ketchup and chutney and served in a brioche bun. Drinks-wise, you can’t go wrong with something from the craft beer list. There are 14 in all, with tempting names like Clairvoyance and Bombay Dazzler.
Looking for a quirky place to enjoy a quick drink before your night out? Kosmonaut is just a five-minute walk from the Warehouse Project. Tucked away down a side street in the Northern Quarter, Kosmonaut serves a vast range of drinks (you can even try a sake) as well as cool cocktails (with quirky names like Lolz and Call Me Maurice) from its New York-style bar. Park yourself in a booth and admire its achingly cool brickwork and exposed pipes whilst tucking into one of their delicious homemade pizzas. And as if all that’s not enough, there’s even ping pong downstairs.
Right in the heart of the city centre, the Warehouse Project couldn’t be handier if you were getting there by public transport. Of course you could save yourself the journey and stay at the nearest Premier Inn - our Manchester Piccadilly hotel is just round the corner!
Put M16 0RP into your satnav, which takes you to White City Retail Park where there’s free car parking - it’s clearly signposted from Old Trafford. The car park is a three-minute, walk from the venue.
It’s easy to get to the Store Street venue by bus, because Manchester Piccadilly is on so many major routes. Just a short walk away you’ll find stops for the 53, 69, 250, 255 and 256 services.
You really couldn’t get much nearer to the train station - the Warehouse Project is directly underneath Manchester Piccadilly station, the city’s main railway station, which serves cities UK-wide.
The venue is between two trams stops: Old Trafford and Exchange Quay. If you’re thinking of taking a tram, you won’t get lost, as there’s a clearly signposted walking route from both of these stops.
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