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22nd May 2022

Manchester Arena attack: Ariana Grande’s poignant tattoo explained five years on from bombing

Charlie Herbert

Meaning behind Ariana Grande's Manchester Arena attack tattoo

Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of the tragedy

On May 22 2017, thousands of fans attended an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena.

As they left the venue, suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a homemade device, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds more.

The attack left Manchester and the country reeling. Ariana herself suffered from PTSD after the traumatic events, but stood in unity with the city and her fans, visiting some of those injured in hospital and organising her One Love Manchester concert.

As the world stood in solidarity with Ariana and Manchester, the popstar had a tattoo inked in honour of the victims who lost their lives and the thousands more impacted by the tragedy.

Along with hundreds of Mancunians, the ‘thank u, next’ singer got a worker bee tattooed on her, a symbol synonymous with Manchester.

In 2018, on the one-year anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack, the 28-year-old shared a picture on social media of the inking, which is just behind her left ear.

But why a worker bee?

According to Manchester City Council, the worker bee has been the emblem of Manchester for more than 150 years and is one of the “best-known symbols” for the city.

The meaning behind the bee dates back to the late 1800s and the Industrial Revolution.

Manchester was one of the cities at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, and the worker bee “denotes Mancunians’ hard work ethic and the city being a hive of activity.”

It also represented the “sense of unity” in Manchester.

To this day, the symbol can be seen all over the city in various forms and iterations, and even features on the official coat of arms of the city.


After the Manchester Arena attack, the worker bee took on even more significance and became a sign of defiance against the tragic events on that day in 2017.

The Metro reports that by late June 2017, 10,000 people had received bee tattoos to support the Manchester Tattoo Appeal to raise money for the victims of the bombing. This raised more than £520,000.

A number of tributes are being paid on Sunday to mark the fifth anniversary of the bombing.

A minute’s applause has been held at the start of each wave of runners taking part in the Great Manchester Run, and Manchester United will be commemorating the anniversary with special kits for their final game of the Premier League season against Crystal Palace.

The names of the 22 victims will be read out at Victoria Station in the city and at Manchester Cathedral.

And at 22:31, the cathedral’s bells will toll, marking the moment of the attack, the BBC reports.

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