Manchester AO Arena – 3 December 2021

Manchester AO Arena – Victoria Station, Hunts Bank M3 1AR

Manchester Arena is a venue James have played many times, under its various names, and many fans will be familiar with its layout and also that of places to eat, drink and park in Manchester – so this is a guide for those unfamiliar with the City and will concentrate on the immediate area around the venue, as there are way too many places in the city to write about them all!

The venue is a big, ugly building adjoining Victoria Station but is easily accessible by public transport, trains, trams and buses. If you can, you’re best using public transport as parking is expensive and will be in short supply due to the Christmas Markets in the city centre, as well as the gig and it being a Friday night.

If you can park further out and get a tram in, or park elsewhere in the city centre, it may be easier – this is a link to the Manchester tram system, with Park and Ride stops indicated – https://tfgm.com/public-transport/tram/network.map – this site also has instructions of how to use the tram system, ticket prices etc.

The Arena is at Victoria Station in Zone 1 and connects directly to 5 lines – see the link above for the full Metrolink Map

If you arrive at Manchester Piccadilly, you can hop on a tram there that takes you straight to Victoria Station.

Parking

As mentioned, parking is going to be difficult on the night due to how busy Manchester will be for other events as well as our gig. However, there are several car parks nearby but if you remember the big open air one right beside the Arena, that has now been demolished for new flats!

I strongly recommend you pre-book parking, so you know you have a space!

The official Arena car park is CitiPark AO Arenahttps://citipark.co.uk/car-parks/manchester/arena – they have a special flat rate of £10 for parking after 5pm til midnight, but if you want to arrive earlier, it will cost around £19 to park there for the evening.

There is another nearby carpark at Shudehill Bus Station, officially Printworks Car Park M4 2BS – (Printworks is an entertainment venue with restaurants and cinema near to the Arena) and we have found a Promo Code that will allow you to park there for 10 hours for £4.90.

Click this link – https://citycentre.apcoa.co.uk/bookingsummary/customerdetail/3878/manchester-printworks/736/daily-commuter-parking—printworks-manchester – and enter the date of the gig (3 December) the time of arrival and your departure time (enter 4 Dec to get a post midnight time) and then enter the code OPEN78 and it will amend the £22.50 charge to £4.90. The earliest you can arrive will be 2pm to leave at midnight.

There is a smaller NCP Car Park at Park Street – M3 1EU where you can park using the ParkPass App for 12 hours before 4pm for £3.45 or after 4pm for £4.95.

Manchester Arndale Centre M4 1AZ also has multi-storey parking with a post 5pm price of £7.20, although it is expensive if you arrive before then – https://www.manchester.gov.uk/directory_record/394691/arndale_centre/category/1788/all_car_parks

There are other car parks around Manchester, as well as street parking, but these are the closest to the venue. Click here for the interactive Google Map of parking in the city centre – https://www.google.com/maps/search/manchester+car+parks+map/@53.4806354,-2.2447842,14.6z?hl=en

Venue

As mentioned earlier, the Arena is adjacent to Victoria Station and has 3 entrances, depending on how you are arriving.

If you are arriving by train, taxi, bus or tram, the best entrance to use is the City Room Entrance, accessible from inside Victoria Station. This has a lift for disabled people and is where there is a Drop Off Area outside the station entrance.

Hunts Bank Entrance is on the outside of the Station, with a number of steps leading to the entrance.

Trinity Way Entrance is the one closest to the CitiPark car park entrance on the opposite side to Victoria Station. This also has wheelchair ramps and lifts for those with limited mobility.

AO Arena Entrances marked in Green – Hunts Bank on the left, Trinity Way at the top and City Room via Victoria Station
Hunts Bank Entrance with Victoria Station in the background

Doors for the show will open at 6pm and the Box Office (accessible via the Trinity Way Entrance) will be open from 4pm.

The Arena does not have a cloakroom or left luggage area and restricts bags to that of around A3 size – 35cm x 40cm x 19cm

Covid Rules

As with other venues on this tour, you will need to show your Covid Pass on your NHS App, or Lateral Flow Test logged to the app, or with a letter or email, taken within 24 hours of the show.

Eat and Drink

There are so many places in Manchester that you can get fed and watered before the show that I won’t try to list them – but the closest are the ones in the Printworks – see https://printworks-manchester.com/food-drink/ for details.

The Corn Exchange also has a range of bars and restaurants – https://cornexchangemanchester.co.uk/restaurants-in-manchester/

And of course, the famous Manchester Christmas Markets will be in full flow, with stalls all over the centre, from close by at Corn Exchange, up to Albert Square and Piccadilly. See https://www.visitmanchester.com/shopping/manchester-christmas-markets-p327351 for more details, or just wander round and take it all in!

Manchester Christmas Market at Albert Square/Town Hall

James landmarks

If you have time, why not pop up to the site of the Hacienda, and see the plaque put up to the band? You’ll find it on Whitworth Street West, postcode M1 5DA, close to Manchester Oxford Road station.

The James Heritage Plaque at the Hacienda Apartments

Also, pay a visit to the famous (notorious?) Affleck’s Palace on Oldham Street, just up from Piccadilly  Gardens, and see the triangular metal plaques set into the pavement opposite, and then see if you can spot the rooftop above the bus station where they played their famous free gig across Piccadilly Gardens…. or visit the Manchester Student Union building on Oxford Road where Tim famously got his pint stolen whilst dancing and got invited to join the band…

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