The first phase of ‘Escape to Freight Island’ will launch next month

Located at Depot Mayfield, Escape to Freight Island is a new collaboration by individuals that have already delivered some of the UK’s most revered restaurants, bars, music and festivals. This includes Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey of Volta, Electrik Bar and The Refuge; Gareth Cooper of Festival N°6; event production veteran Jon Drape of Engine No. 4 and managing director Dan Morris, who launched leading Manchester music venues Gorilla and the Albert Hall, as well as some of the city's favourite bars and restaurants. 

It’s a new and unique destination in Manchester, it is the next evolution in the food market sector that will fill a hole in the life of our city

Expect an inspiring urban landscape encompassing an outdoor food market, art space and terrace-style seating on one sprawling tract, carved from the city's industrial past, in Manchester’s historic former railway station. Depot Mayfield is part of the £1.4 billion regeneration of Manchester's Mayfield district into a distinctive and imaginative mixed-use neighbourhood featuring a world-class commercial space, new homes and the city centre’s first new public park since Hulme Park in 2000.

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A CGI of how Escape to Freight Island will look

Located on Baring Street, it has been inspired by international destinations such as Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Coney Island in New York and Grand Central Market in Los Angeles and will become a permanent urban market and festival space - an axis of food, drink, music, immersive entertainment, festival takeovers and family focused happenings.

Launching with its pivotal 'Safe + Social Manifesto' and a limited 600-capacity first phase, Escape to Freight Island will expand to welcome 2500 people when fully open later this year. It will be home to a number of different bars, restaurants, food trucks, with retail space and a bike park. There will be a 70s New York-inspired roller disco, a hidden high-fi audio bar, which will transform into a karaoke venue called Queen Samantha’s, and a retro arcade games corridor. Escape to Freight Island will also host a diverse, ticketed events programme, with free festival-calibre entertainment 12 hours a day.  

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Liverpool's Madre will be one of the first traders and will offer their very special tacos

Among the first traders will be Liverpool’s hugely popular Madre (reviewed here), with its own non-traditional, upscaled, ingredient-driven tacos. Voodoo Ray’s Pizza will launch a northern outpost, following success in Peckham and Dalston, and Ramsbottom's pioneering Baratxuri will hold court in the outside space with a wood-fired ‘asador’ grill, roasting large cuts of meat and whole fish.

Drinks-wise, Escape to Freight Island will be Camden Town Brewery’s biggest collaboration outside of London, launching a boutique craft ale bar in partnership with Salford’s Pomona Island brewery. This will run alongside a specialist wine bar, and a cocktail space from the team behind Ancoats' favourite neighbourhood bar, The Jane Eyre.

The entire venue will be sound-tracked by a visionary selection of music, festival takeovers and exclusive collaborations with the likes of Homoelectric, We Out Here festival, Festival N°6, Love International and other iconic musical curators.

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Baratxuri will be firing up a huge outdoor asador grill

The first area to open its doors in mid-July will be dubbed 'Platform 15', a nod towards neighbouring Piccadilly Station. It has been designed with social distance at the forefront of its operations with a world leading ‘Safe + Social Manifesto’. 'Platform 15' will offer a place for people to be together, safely and responsibly, in preparation for Escape to Freight Island’s full launch.

Bookings will be open next week and, to be given a 24-hour advance notice for tables, you need to sign up to join the community on the Escape to Freight Island website. Table slots of three hours will be pre-booked from Thursday to Sunday, running from midday to midnight.

The launch of phase two is planned for August, increasing capacity to 1000 people with social distancing measures remaining in place. Once restrictions are lifted, the venue will switch up to a capacity of 2500 people. At each phase, Escape to Freight Island will add even more exciting food and drink offerings, featuring more of the country’s leaders in hospitality. 

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Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford are part of the collective behind the new project

Electrik's Luke Cowdrey said: “Escape to Freight Island isn’t your average food market. It’s a new and unique destination in Manchester, it is the next evolution in the food market sector that will fill a hole in the life of our city. Escape to Freight Island will take its place as one of the most exciting, forward-thinking and disruptive markets in the world. Escape to Freight Island is a game-changer and, most importantly to me, Escape to Freight Island has soul.

“Platform 15 will give a flavour of what is to come when we launch the full Escape to Freight Island experience, so let’s all meet at Platform 15 to begin our escape to freedom.”

Mayfield Depot
Depot Mayfield is part of the £1.4 billion regeneration of Manchester's Mayfield district

James Heather, development director at U+I for the Mayfield Partnership, said: “Mayfield has over the last three years been re-established in the hearts and minds of both Mancunians and visitors to our city as an outstanding location for culture and entertainment. With Escape to Freight Island, our partners at Broadwick Venues have assembled an amazing line-up of operators, brands and innovators, which will take this to the next level.

“This is an exciting new chapter in Mayfield’s regeneration story and one which raises the bar further still for our city’s visitor offering, underlining our vision for Mayfield as Manchester’s true commercial, creative and cultural nexus.”

One of the UK’s largest urban regeneration projects, Mayfield is being delivered by the Mayfield Partnership which comprises regeneration specialist U+I, Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and LCR.

The first phase of Escape to Freight Island, 'Platform 15,' will open in Manchester mid-July 2020.

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Also: Mayfield: A park, retention of assets, the right way to redevelop