From cat speed dating to comedy workshops, here’s how to find love in the city this summer

My heart flips. 'You have a new message from Jay' reads the display on my phone. Jay is the 6’4 lawyer-come-model who was certainly out of my league. I smirk. I've still got it. I swipe open the screen to reveal his message:

“Only in MCR one night. Fancy a shag?”


For the many starry-eyed singletons who’ve had their dreams of romantic entanglement shattered by some crap opening line on Tinder, this is a familiar scenario. (No, I don’t want to see a picture of your 'little friend', nor do I want to send you snaps of my nether regions). Yet, despite the cringingly crude one-liners and flimsy flings on dating apps, apparently we Mancs can’t get enough of the dating game - the North West has the highest download rate of Tinder and Grindr in the UK .

Which gives us two conclusions, either 1) we are love-sick loners hooked on serial dating, or 2) we love dishing out dirty dating lines but have no intention of meeting. If you fall into the latter, then wash your mouth out with soap you scoundrel. If it’s the former, then it’s time to take yourself offline and meet somebody, face-to-face.

Here are ten places you can meet someone in real life in Manchester this summer...

For the fitness fanatic: workouts in the park

What’s more romantic than crossing eyes with a potential partner as you bust a gut working out in the park? Whilst it might not be a glistening Rom-Com encounter, there’s something to be said about getting all hot and sweaty before you make the first move – if they still fancy you after you’re saturated in sweat, you’re on to a winner. Thanks to the Parklives project, meeting your match mid-summer amble is easier than ever. The initiative is run by the infamously healthy Coco-cola, and offers a host of free classes in a bid to get more people active this summer.

17 07 23 Summer Dating Parklives

For the movie lover: outdoor cinema

Whether you canoodled over popcorn or settled down to do god knows what on the back row, cinemas have a certain je ne sais quoi. After all, with all that dark lighting and amped-up sound effects, who knows what rendezvous you might encounter? This summer, Spinningfields is bringing back the movie magic with outdoor screenings of all your favourites at Oast House (3 July – 10 September). For ten weeks, you can perfect the classic yawning-arm-over-shoulder move as you watch the likes of Mean Girls, Dirty Dancing or Jurassic Park.

17 07 23 Summer Dating Oast House Cinema
You could find your match at an alfresco cinema

For the feline fanatic: cat speed dating

Crazed cat lady destined to die alone? Fear no more. Gone are the days kitten-loving singletons feared being nibbled to death by their closest companions - you can now find someone that loves your feline friends just as much as you do. Cat Café is launching a First Dates style speed-dating event, offering you 10 dates with cat-crazy lads and ladies, unlimited Barista drinks and, more importantly, the chance to spend an entire evening with the resident cats of the café. Whether you pull or not, cuddles are guaranteed. 

170407 Cat Cafe 2
If all else fails, you'll always have cats...

For the literary lover: outdoor theatre

If you’re apt at putting grammar-based puns into your dating profiles  - 'swipe right if you know the difference between your and you’re' – then try sampling a literary love affair at one of Manchester’s outdoor theatres this summer. From classics like Macbeth and Hamlet to children’s favourites Jungle Book and Peter Pan, newly-launched Manchester Open Air Theatre brings an array of plays to Chorlton Park (31 July – 3 September).  

17 07 24 Manchester Open Air Theatre
Manchester Open Air Theatre MOAT

Speed-mating: for those ‘just looking for friends’

As the famous phrase states: dating is a 'numbers game'. So, if you’re not trying to meet new people, you’re not going to meet a new partner. Cue speed-mating – a frivolously fun initiative started by Girl Gang Manchester that lets you meet future friends through dating-style activities. The no-pressure environment invites attendants to speed-mate, create and discuss in order to get to know each-other. After all, isn’t friendship the perfect foundation for love?

170531 Girl Gang Manchester P1290249
Sometimes a friend is all you need

For the yoga junkie: The Life Centre

Juggling multiple dating profiles and a jam-packed singles calendar can be a little overwhelming. So, why not set the search for love in a more calming environment, surrounded by candles, gongs and hardcore yogis practicing borderline contortion. The Life Centre North has a bustling timetable of classes from basic yoga to mindfulness which is perfect for meeting like-minded souls. Plus, rumour has it that all those bendy moves and firm concentration could work wonders for your sex life.  

17 10 21 Yogathon Sue Hodgkinson The Life Centre
The Life Centre is full of bendy folks...

For the laughter lover: comedy clubs

If belly-busting banter is top of your romantic tick list, then try meeting your match at one of Manchester’s summer comedy events. The BBC’s Salford Sitcom Showcase is back by popular demand, promising an array of workshops and performances to tickle your funny bone (27 August). Or try your hand at the funny business at a comedy workshop hosted by ImproQuo or ComedySports and see if you can laugh your way to love. 

17 07 24 The Comedy Club
Laugh your way to love

For those who like a tipple: beer gardens

You can’t do summer dating without venturing into one of Manchester’s many beer gardens. From kicking back cocktails at Spinningfields’ Alchemist to cheerfully cheap slurps at the pubs of Shambles Square, the city centre is full of great spots to stare into each other’s eyes and soak up the spirits of summer. And with the great weather bringing out singletons in their masses to bustling bars, mid-afternoon drinks offer ample opportunity to make that first move. Check out Manchester's best beer gardens here.

160714 Beat Street 162 Street is often bustling on summer evenings

For festival feelings

The heady happiness and unconventional friendliness of festivals make them the perfect place to meet likeminded partners. Whilst the glitter-clad days of Parklife have long gone this year, there’s plenty of festival frolics left to enjoy this summer. Forget a foreign holiday romance and head to the more local landscape of Heaton Park, where truck-loads of sand, deck chairs and fairground rides hope to replicate your favourite seaside resort inland (Come to the Beach Festival, 22 Jul – 5 Aug). If lively dancing and glitzy costumes are more your festival go-to, then check out the Caribbean carnival of Manchester taking over Alexandra Park (12, 13 Aug). Or meet fellow music-lovers at Manchester Jazz Festival (28 July – 6 August). 

17 07 24 Manchester Jazz Festival
Jazz up your love life at MJF

For the manga maniac: Comic Con

Whilst booze is often the go-to for loosing inhibitions, there’s something to be said about fancy dress; it’s easier to take rejection if you’re dressed like Batman. Whether you dabble in dressing up or are an expert in cosplay, this year’s Comic Con festival needs to be on your radar (29-30 Jul). With participants dressing up in everything from manga to movies, finding someone that shares your passion for the weirdly wonderful should be a breeze. 

Comic Con Small Size 10
You may find yourself a superhero... or a villain