A guide to… Manchester Arena
Manchester Arena is one the most established and busiest venues in Europe. Opening in 1995, it is the UK’s largest arena with a capacity of 21,000.
Set in the heart of a city noted for its love of live music, the venue is probably best known for its live concerts from some of the biggest names in music. Throughout the years, the arena has enjoyed performances from One Direction, Barbra Streisand, The Rolling Stones and Madonna.
But it’s not just music events that take place in the venue, Manchester Arena regularly hosts basketball games, ice skating tours, circus shows and the top names in comedy, along with much more.
So with the introduction over, let’s delve into everything you need to know about Manchester Arena.
How do I get to Manchester Arena?
Public transport is the easiest way to get to Manchester Arena, with Manchester Victoria metrolink and the train station underneath the arena itself. Alternatively, Piccadilly train station is only a 15 minute walk.
Whilst the train stations being near to the venue is a definite plus, this does mean that after events the stations’ platforms tend to be busy. So give yourself plenty of time between the end of the gig and getting to the train station.
There is a taxi rank outside the venue for travel back into the city after your event if you don’t fancy the walk, and there are plenty of carparks surrounding the venue. Be aware that these can vary in price.
Whilst some outdoor carparks are as cheap as £2.50, you do run the risk of your car not being as safe as it would be in the more expensive carparks, such as the 958 capacity on site carpark run by NCP. Spaces can be booked in advance and are around £12 for up to 4 hours, increasing by a couple of pounds per hour.
Which entrance is best?
There are 3 entrances into the arena: Manchester Victoria train station, Trinity Way and Hunt’s Bank. Hunt’s Bank doors are up a lot of steps, but there is an accessibility lift.
If you have a standing ticket and plan to queue for that elusive front of the stage spot, Victoria Station and Hunt’s Bank entrances may be the easiest places to wait as Trinity Way leads straight onto a main road. Victoria Station is also indoors if the weather is on the grim side.
What can I eat and drink?
No food or drinks are allowed into the arena, but there are plenty of bars and food stalls inside, although it can be a bit pricey. Soft drinks are upwards of £2.50, pints of beer and cider are around £4.50 and glasses of wine cost around £3.50. If you fancy a spirit, you’ll be paying a bit more.
On the food side, hot dogs and nachos are available from the bars and cost around £4. There are also food stalls around the arena which offer sweeter goods such as candy floss.
Fancying a sit-down meal? You can upgrade your booking to The View Experience which gives you access to Manchester Arena’s restaurant named The View and earlier access to the arena. There is a wider variety of food and drinks, but you will pay the price for this choice.
Being so close to the city centre there are plenty of places for food and drink to choose from, so why not take advantage of these before the show?
The Printworks, for example, is only a few minutes’ walk from the arena and offers a variety of restaurant chains such as Hard Rock Cafe, Prezzo and Wasabi Sushi. Furthermore, the 15-minute walk to the Northern Quarter from the venue is really worth it if you fancy something different.
The area has lots to offer, so if you have the time before the show, take the opportunity to wander the cobbled streets in order to find that new favourite eatery. From a cake and a cuppa at Teacup Kitchen to a gourmet burger and cocktails at the Odd Bar, there are plenty of unique dining experiences to be had from this area of the city.
Standing or seated?
On entering the venue, it is typical for the audience to have to wait again before they are allowed to enter the actual arena. If you are looking to get to the front of the standing area, be sure to queue up outside of the standing doors as soon as you enter the arena.
Standing tickets are taken off you as you enter the floor and are exchanged for a wristband which means you can leave to go to the toilet or the bars freely. If you like having the ticket for a show as a souvenir, you should be able to collect these from the sound desk before exiting the arena.
Seating arrangements vary from show to show as sometimes seats are put on the floor, as does the position of the stage. Seating on the tiers generally remains the same with the lower tiers providing a good view of the stage. Although the upper tier also has decent views, the seats are quite steep. These would not be the best seats if you don’t like heights.
And everything else…
If you have to get your hands on some merchandise you can do so from stalls around the venue before or after the show. There is a charge to pay on card and to withdraw money from the cash machines. So your best bet is to take cash with you into the venue.
For the snap happy people, be aware that generally professional cameras are not allowed into the arena. But camera phones and digital cameras are usually permitted unless the performer has specified that there should be no photography.
Leaving the Venue
In order to get people out of the venue as quick as possible, staff generally point you in the direction of your nearest exit. If you are to the right-hand side of the stage in the standing area, this can mean that you leave the venue via a basement exit, so be aware if you are claustrophobic that this may not be the best exit for you.
And that’s about it on Manchester Arena. Have you been to a gig at the venue? Leave your concert memories in the comments below.