Lonely Planet Writer

Madchester lives on in Manchester as live music still proves a hit with visitors

It is the birthplace of the ‘Madchester’ scene, the home of the resurrected Stone Roses, and last resting place of the beloved Hacienda club so it’s small wonder that Manchester is proving such an attraction to music lovers.

The beloved Hacienda club in January 2001 before it was demolished.
The beloved Hacienda club in January 2001 before it was demolished. Image by Getty Images

A new report has shown how live music is still one of the city’s main attractions with more than 700,000 people visiting the city for a gig last year. In all, 1.9 million people attended a concert in Manchester in 2015 according to UK Music, which generated GB£140 million in spending there and supported almost 1,600 jobs. UK Music said a wide range of venues made Manchester the music capital of the North of England, even as it perhaps is losing its crown as the soccer capital.

Parklife Festival, Manchester.
Parklife Festival, Manchester. Image by Getty Images

The O2 Arena in the city was the second most ticketed music arena in the world in 2015 according to the research by Oxford Economics, only outdone by the venue of the same name in London. The report said the city’s overall figures had been boosted by eight consecutive sold-out shows played to over 125,000 fans at the Manchester Arena by Take That. “2015 also saw the welcome return of the biannual Manchester International Music Festival,” the report said, “which … saw bespoke shows and events from the likes of FKA Twigs, Bjork, Fourtet, Arca and Damon Albarn. It attracted thousands of visitors to celebrate music across the city and it will return in 2017.”

Music tourism across the UK generated an astonishing GB£3.7 billion last year with more than ten million visitors travelling to cities for concerts. The impact was most pronounced in the capital London where concerts generated close to €1 billion for the city’s economy, according to a study by UK Music. Other cities also got a big boost in visitors from their live venues including Belfast in Northern Ireland, which welcomed 237,000 “music tourists”, and Cardiff in Wales with 293,000. Glasgow was the epicentre of concerts in Scotland for 2015 according to the report, with 1.4 million people in total attending a live music event. One third of them were classed as “music tourists”, generally people who had travelled a distance and ended up overnighting in the city.