For a dead good accessible city break, Manchester should be top of your list. With buzzing bars and street art galore, football fever and hints of its industrial heritage around every corner, the diverse and vibrant city of Manchester is always looking to surprise and delight.
Join Rosie Jones and Mike Wozniak as they explore some of the best things to do in Manchester for Freya, a sports star with muscular dystrophy, as part of Channel 4’s Mission: Accessible series. Then, find out more about the locations featured (along with a few extras) with our handy guide.
Manchester Taxi Tours
Take a deep dive into Manchester’s history and heritage on a tour with Mancunian black cab driver, John Consterdine. His state-of-the-art electric taxi is wheelchair-friendly and has a fully fitted hearing loop, making it the perfect way to take in the city’s top landmarks. No two tours are the same as you get to choose where you want to go, whether that’s to see the street art in the Northern Quarter (with murals on the city’s suffragettes), to Ancoats to check out Manchester’s historic industrial suburb or down to Old Trafford to delve into Manchester United’s club past. Born and bred in Manchester, John has a passion for his city and has a wealth of knowledge about its every corner – no wonder he’s Manchester’s only Green Badge Tour Guide.
Get your snow fill any time of year at the UK’s longest indoor snow slope. Less than four miles away from Manchester City Centre, Chill Factore is the home of Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK), a nationwide charity providing adaptive skiing experiences for people with physical, sensory and learning difficulties. With fully qualified instructors on hand, wheelchair users can turn their hand to sit-skiing, where you learn to steer yourself with hand riggers, amputees can try three or four-track skiing – where there are more points of contact on the snow – and those with visual impairments can find their ski (or snowboard) legs. Just remember to pack your gloves!
Leave the streets of Manchester behind and immerse yourself in New York vibes at the Hotel Brooklyn, winner of the Cateys 2021 Accessibility Award. This swanky hotel is decked out like an Old Brooklyn joint with bleachers (tiered benches), exposed brickwork and cans of Brooklyn Beers available at the bar. The hotel also has an excellent collection of adapted ‘Liberty Rooms’, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, ensuite wet rooms, eco-friendly toiletries and you own retro bedside radio. Some bedrooms also have discreet ceiling track electric hoists, removable support rails and shower seats. On top of that, the hotel staff have been trained to support the needs of all kinds of guests – so you’re guaranteed to be in good hands here.
Life really does take its toll at times…so why not take out your frustration on a bunch of loose objects? Destroy’d Rage Rooms, in Stockport, is a safe place for you to smash up everything in sight, from TV screens to printers, glassware to plates – all to help release some stress, or simply to have a bit of fun. Access to the wreck rooms are step-free via lifts and you’ll be given protective clothing alongside a weapon to help get you started. You can even play your own music to get you in the ultimate smashing mood and, if you fancy a memento, there are multiple mounts around the room so you can record yourself really getting into it.
If flying is your fantasy superpower, you cannot leave Manchester without going to iFLY. Located in the heart of Trafford City, this indoor skydiving experience will have you flying like a bird in the first 14-foot wind tunnel to be built in the UK. Inclusive to all, the centre is fully wheelchair accessible and is kitted out with good-sized lifts and accessible toilets. The video briefing is both signed and subtitled and the staff are well experienced in working with disabled people. After you’re boiler-suited up, make your way inside the tunnel where you’ll work one-on-one with an instructor who’ll have you experiencing true free-fall conditions in no time.
Footy fans will be all over Manchester’s National Football Museum, with seven floors of football heritage and memorabilia to be explored. Enter at street level and take the lifts and ramps to the different levels to learn about the history of the beautiful game. See incredible FA Cup silverware, listen to historic commentary on some of the greatest moments in football, beat the virtual keeper in a penalty shootout and even get a selfie with a replica of the Premier League Trophy. Guided tours are available on request, induction loops are located at reception and information desks, and accessible toilets are located on all floors. Before you visit, you can check out the museum’s website for a BSL introduction to the collection and download a large print guide for more information about the exhibition.
Round off your day with a spot of live entertainment at Band on the Wall, one of Manchester’s top live music destinations. The venue has been a cornerstone of the city’s thriving music landscape for two centuries, with its name harking back to the early 1900s when musicians literally played on a stage halfway up the back wall. Band on the Wall also work closely with ‘Attitude is Everything’, an organisation helping to improve Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music, whether they’re customers or performers. This means the venue is fully wheelchair accessible, with accessible toilets and accessible parking just outside, and induction loops are available at the box office. There are also low-level counters at the box office and the bar, so there’s no reason why you can’t order the next round.
Please note that Band on the Wall is temporarily closed but will reopen in September.
Please note: While the attractions listed in this article have achieved good levels of accessibility, please be sure to make your own checks and inquiries directly with the attractions before travelling to ensure your individual accessibility requirements can be met. You can also find independently assessed accessible accommodation across the country and further ideas and inspiration in the Access for All section.