Alcohol-Free Bar Marches On

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The Umbrella Cafe interior

Having gotten off to a flying start at its sold out launch party last week, Manchester’s Umbrella Café is all set for another bumper weekend.

Revellers at the city’s first alcohol-free bar were joined at its opening night last Friday by celebrities including Umbrella Café patron, John Thomson, and Coronation Street actor, Chris Gascoyne.  In total, over 100 people gathered in the bar, which is based at the Northern Quarter’s Nexus Art Café, to sip mocktails and enjoy the entertainment provided by singer/songwriter Tony Smith and DJ David McCollom. Speaking to members of the press at the launch, John Thomson, who has been sober for over 7 years, said,John Thomson and Chris Gascoyne

“I’ve always thought that there is a market for this. It excites me because there’s no other place like it around here. It’s a revelation, I really hope it takes off.”

John later told the crowd,

“I hope this is a massive, massive success because it’d be great to have somewhere that I can call my own, where I can go to meet people in similar circumstances, not neccessarily in recovery – just people who want a break from [alcohol]. Drinking is not a spectator sport. I get people saying to me, ‘you’re boring because you’re not having a drink.’ And I think, ‘I’m boring? You’re the one who’s just said ‘you’re great, you’ sixteen times.'”

See the gallery below for pictures from the opening night.

Meanwhile, this weekend sees the UK Recovery Walk (UKRW) Charity head to Manchester for both the Advocacy In Action conference at Manchester Metropolitan University and the huge Recovery Walk event in the city centre on Saturday. Tonight (Friday 12th), Umbrella Café will host a post-conference party with live music from local band ‘It’s All About Me’, before DJ Paul Clewarth takes to the decks. On Saturday, there will be a post-Recovery Walk shindig where the charity’s patron, former Coronation Street star Kevin Kennedy, will be at the bar and entertainment will be provided by the excellent Jordan Drinkwater. Entry to each evening is £5 and tickets can be purchased through the Umbrella Café Facebook page.recoverywalk3

Speaking about the Recovery Walk event itself, which an estimated 7000 people are expected to attend, Annemarie Ward of UKRW said,

“Expect a fun, exciting and moving day. There’ll be wonderful bands and entertainers from across the spectrum of recovery and across the spectrum of entertainment.

“If anyone is thinking of coming to the walk, don’t think twice, come along. It’ll be a fantastic day, you’ll have a great time. To be part of that crowd moving through Manchester – the largest recovery gathering in Europe – just to be part of that, you cannot fail to be moved by it. For some people it is actually a life-changing event so I would thoroughly encourage people to come along.”

“The opening of the Umbrella Café has coincided beautifully with making recovery visible in the Greater Manchester area. Attendance at, and the support of, the Café will only go on to strengthen the borders of the recovery community in the region. If people can get behind it – going forward, when the walk moves on to Durham next year – then the Umbrella Café will provide a way to take the growth that’s been created over the last 12 months by the UK Recovery Walk Charity, and by those people who have been at the planning meetings together, and build on that growth and those relationships and sustain them. It looks like The Umbrella Café will be the lasting legacy of the Recovery Walk coming to Greater Manchester so I really hope the community will help to build on it and sustain it.”

For more information about tomorrow’s UK Recovery Walk in Manchester please visit

For news on the Umbrella Café’s upcoming events visit


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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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