Wednesday 29 November 2017

December Events And Activities For Families In The Northwest UK

Here is my round up of loads of family-friendly activities in the Northwest UK this December and Christmas period. There is absolutely masses happening, so I'll keep adding to this post as I receive more - if you know of anything you think I should add, please send me the details and I'll add it in if appropriate!

I'm trying a different format this time and adding everything in start date order. I don't know whether this works better, apologies if not! The areas covered include:

Manchester / Bolton / Liverpool / Halifax / St Helens / Chester / Blackpool / Lancashire

A Christmas Carol

Bolton Octagon

Until 13th January.
Suitable for children aged 5+, but not too scary.  Find out more and book tickets (£12-£26) on The Octagon Theatre Bolton website or by calling in or ringing the Box Office 01204 520661.
We have already seen this and you can find my Bolton Octagon A Christmas Carol review here... 

Night Lights Festive Show and Meet Santa

Eureka, Halifax

25th November - 23rd December.
Father Christmas and a few of his Elven friends are coming to Eureka! The National Children’s Museum to get into the festive spirit by chatting to children and giving out a few early gifts in the snuggliest grotto in town - named one of the UK’s best by popular parenting site in 2016. Grotto days will include autism friendly sessions. Visitors to the children’s museum will be able to watch ‘Night Lights’, an original festive show. Visits to the grotto cost £3 plus standard admission, entry to Night Lights is free – book both on arrival. Standard admission £12.95, upgrade to Annual Membership during your visit for free. Visit the Eureka website to find out more.

The Lanterns Of Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo

Until 30th December, dates vary.
An evening walk around the zoo by lanternlight and the lantern sculpture trail - see Father Christmas and his elves preparing for Christmas (or resting after 25th Dec!). Festive Meals available. Booking essential as this event is very popular. A Wild Rumpus event. For more information or to book, see the Chester Zoo website or phone 01244 380280

The Twelve Days of Christmas, Father Christmas at the farm

Tatton Park, Cheshire

Until 3 December, also 8 – 10, 15 – 17 & 23 December. 11am – 4pm (last entry 3pm)
Explore the secret symbolism behind the well-known Christmas carol, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, on a magical journey through the house. See decorations made of fresh foliage and greenery, inspired by turtle doves, gold rings and ladies dancing. Festive treats and seasonal craft and demonstrations on offer. Special Mansion ticket prices apply, even for members £10 for adults and £6 for children, plus park entry £6 per car
Weekends until 23 December , 11am – 4pm
Come and see your favourite farmyard friends when you visit Father Christmas and his reindeer, Prancer and Dancer. Admission charges apply, even for members - ££7.00 for adults and £6.50 for children (including a gift), plus park car entry of £6
Find out more on the Tatton Park website.

You can see Rambling Through Parenthood's review of 12 Days Of Christmas at Tatton Park here...

A Victorian family Christmas

Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire

Until 17 December , 11am – 4pm
Visit the hall, decorated for a traditional Victorian Christmas, enjoy lots of family activities including trails and sugar mice making and pay a call on Father Christmas. Small charge for some activities, normal admission charges apply. Child £5, incl. gift  Booking essential on 01704 821254 or visit the National Trust website.

Yuletide celebrations

Little Moreton Hall, Congleton, Cheshire

Wednesday – Sunday until 17 December, 11am – 4pm
Explore a traditional Tudor Christmas at Little Moreton Hall. Join us at weekends for music, storytelling, displays, entertaining jesters and activities or visit on weekdays to take a closer look at festive food. Normal admission charges apply

Regency Christmas, Regency festive afternoon tea

Lyme Hall, Disley, Stockport

Friday – Monday until 24 December, 11am – 4pm (last entry 3pm)
Experience the celebrations and traditions of the festive period in the Regency era, when Thomas Legh and his family lived at Lyme. Normal Admission charges apply.
Friday – Monday until 24 December, 12 noon – 4pm
Join us for afternoon tea with a festive twist where you’ll be served a variety of sweet and savoury Christmas delights, perfectly accompanied by a glass of bubbly. Tel: 01663 761400. £22.50 Booking Essential call 01663 762023.

Christmas at Dunham Massey, Special guided walk: wider estate

Dunham Massey, Trafford, nr Altrincham, Manchester 

1st December, Friday – Sunday until 10 December and 14 – 24 December, 4.45 – 10pm
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as the gardens of Dunham Massey are all aglow. Follow this twinkling winter trail for a magical after dark experience. Member tickets: adult £14.50, child £8.50, plus parking £5 Booking essential, fee applies, contact 0161 941 1025 or the National Trust website. For member discount, use code NTDM17.
2 December, 11.30am – 1.30pm
There’s more than meets the eye at Dunham Massey. Join us for a walk outside the park walls to find out about the wider estate. Normal admission charges apply.

You can see Vai Chin's video review of Christmas at Dunham Massey here...

Tranquil festive Fridays, Victorian Christmas weekends, Evenings of festive music

Speke Hall, Liverpool

1 & 8 December., 12.30 – 4pm (last entry 3.30pm)
Enjoy a more peaceful version of our Christmas festivities – stroll around the hall, decorated for a traditional Victorian Christmas, and enjoy a delicious meal in the restaurant. Normal Admission charges apply.
2, 3, 9 & 10 December , 12.30 – 4pm (last entry 3.30pm)
Victorian Christmas weekends, Normal Admission charges apply.
6 - 8 December, 6.30pm & 8pm
Explore the ground floor, decorated for a traditional Victorian Christmas, and enjoy a carol concert in the Great Hall, followed by festive refreshments. Adult £14, child £7 Booking essential on 0151 427 7231

Preparing for a Georgian Christmas, Baby and toddler meet Father Christmas,
Meet Father Christmas at Quarry Bank, A Georgian Christmas, Twelfth Night celebrations

Quarry Bank Mill, Wilmslow, Cheshire

Wednesday – Sunday until 10 December, 10.30am – 4pm
In Quarry Bank House the family are getting ready for Christmas, while the apprentices remain hard at work. Join us as we prepare the festivities. Normal admission charges apply.
1, 8 & 15 December 10.30am – 4pm
Join us for a special Christmas baby and toddler storytelling and play session, which includes a private family visit to Father Christmas and a gift. Age 6 months - 5 years. Child £9, incl. gift Booking essential on 01625 527468.
2, 3, 9, 10, 16 & 17 December, 10.30am – 4pm
Get your wish-list at the ready! Join in with a special half hour session of festive activities, including a private family visit to Father Christmas and a gift. Age 4 – 10. Child £9, incl. gift. Booking essential on 01625 527468
13 December, Wednesday – Sunday until 24 December, 10.30am – 4pm
Step back into two very different Georgian Christmases. Enjoy the sophisticated celebrations of the mill owning Gregs and the humble festivities of the apprentices. Normal admission applies.
Tuesday 26 December, Wednesday – Sunday until 7 January, 10.30am – 4pm
We’re keeping the festivities going with Twelfth Night celebrations. Come along to experience the food, fun and traditions of this forgotten celebration. Normal admission charges apply

Etsy Made Local Christmas Market

People’s History Museum, Spinningfields, Manchester

1st to 3rd December
Over 40 designers, crafters and artisans in the stunning historic Engine Hall and Processional Way at the People’s History Museum.
For opening night, on Friday 1st December (5pm to 8pm), the whole museum will stay open late, including its Leftbank CafĂ©, so that visitors can enjoy mulled wine and mince pies while they browse the stalls. It will also be the first opportunity to see the People’s History Museum Christmas tree, decorated by Etsy Manchester designers and crafters. Entry to Etsy Made Local Christmas Market is free. For more information visit Etsy Manchester

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

St Helens Theatre Royal, St Helens.

2nd December to 14th January
Regal Entertainments’ magical Christmas pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Dwarves?) is a glittering production boasting a starry cast. Wild At Heart, Doctors and Coronation Street’s Lucy-Jo Hudson stars as the eponymous heroine, Snow White with Johnny Vegas as the Magic Mirror. Book early to avoid disappointment. For more information, please visit St Helens Theatre Royal website.

The Gruffalo

The Lowry, Salford

6th December - 7th January. 10.30am/1.30pm showings
Tall Stories’ smash-hit musical production. The most fearsome creature that never was - but is - takes to the stage in this enchanting production combining songs, laughter and storytelling theatre with just the right amount of scary fun! Set to a wonderfully catchy score with original music and lyrics. No performances Tue 12, Tue 19, Mon 25 December and Mon 1 Jan. Tickets: £17.50 Running time: 55 Minutes (no interval) Age recommendation: 3+. Find out more on The Lowry website.

Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

Home, 2 Tony Wilson Place, First Street, Manchester.

7th - 30th December
Maestros of mind-blowing puppet theatre Little Angel Theatre return to HOME with a new version of Little Red Riding Hood, where the wolf is the real star. There are two sides to every story - and here’s the story never heard of a kind and hungry wolf who strayed from the path and lost his friends. This wolf isn’t big or even bad, in fact he’s rather shy. He won’t gobble up your grandma or tell you lies. He’s polite and very gentle, he’s an all-round nice guy. Find out more on the Home Manchester website.

Raymond Briggs' The Bear

Waterside Arts, Sale, Manchester.

7th December - 6th January
Raymond Briggs’ much loved children’s book The Bear takes to the stage presented by Pins & Needles Productions. One night when she's fast asleep, an enormous snowy white bear climbs into Tilly's bedroom. It has a big black tongue and a yawn as big as your head. But Tilly's not scared. With dazzling puppetry, delicious music, dreamy storytelling, and dozens of laughs, The Bear is an unforgettable experience for the whole family and a perfect introduction to theatre. Recommended for children aged between 3 and 11. We'll be reviewing this one!
Schools and public performances, British Sign Language (BSL) performances: 9 & 22 December,  Relaxed Performance: 22 December
Slumber Shows: All 6pm starts where PJs are encouraged to be worn and cookies and milk are available to buy for all little people. Check for a full list of times and dates or ring 0161 912 5616

We've reviewed this and you can find our review of The Bear at Waterside is excellent.

Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf 

Z-Arts, Stretford Road, Hulme, Manchester

8th - 16th December. 11am/2.30pm/7pm showings, dates vary.
Join us this Christmas for a bold and highly theatrical re-telling of the well-known classic tale packed with music, dance and song. Explore the thrill of adventure and unknown versus the safety and familiarity of the path and how irresistible straying can be, as well as the tension between mankind and nature. Are the wolves really the villains in a world where the woodcutter is destroying the forest? And is Grandma the trophy hunter really sick?
 ART CART! Free Art Cart activities for all ticket holders in the Z-arts Cafe before all performances for children of all ages, so bring the whole family along for glittery, gluey fun before or after the show! GOODY BAGS! And the fun doesn’t stop when the curtain falls! All children will receive a free Little Red Goody bag containing activities to take home, stickers and a chance to win lucky dip prizes! Ages 5+. Find out more on the Z-Arts website.

Peter Pan

Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

8th December - 1st January
Pop star and TV personality Dane Bowers plays Pan’s arch enemy Hook in LHK Productions’ stunning seasonal show. Joanne Harper is Wendy Darling and Lewis Pryor plays Peter Pan. Michael Chapman writes and directs as well as starring as the Darling’s Cook and Radio City 2’s Claire Simmo plays Tinkerbell.
Tickets start at £11, subject to booking fee. All prices include a £1 per ticket venue restoration levy BOOK on the Epstein Theatre website or call 0844 888 4411

Christmas Film Screenings

Manchester’s Victoria Baths

Friday 8th, Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th December (afternoon and evening screenings)

The Village Screen pop up cinema will return to Victoria Baths this festive season, transforming the Baths into an enchanted Christmas cinema. Afternoon screenings are suitable for the entire family, whilst evening screenings are strictly adults-only. The Village Screen’s DJ will be spinning the classics, food, drinks and cinema snacks available. Audiences are encouraged to snuggle up with hats, gloves and blankets for a magical Christmas experience. Tickets £10-£15. Online booking fees apply.
 Elf (Friday, 8th December) – doors at 19:00, screening at 20:30. 12+ only. Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Frozen (Saturday, 9th December) – doors at 14:30, screening at 16:00. All ages welcome.
Home Alone (Saturday, 9th December) – doors at 19:30, screening at 21:00. 12+ only. Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Miracle on 34th Street (Sunday, 10th December) – doors at 14:30, screening at 16:00. All ages welcome.
Love Actually (Sunday, 10 December) – doors at 19:00, screening at 20:30. 16+ only.

Tickets are now on sale via the “Upcoming Events” tab at

Dick Whittington

Manchester Opera House

9th December - 7th January
Dick Whittington stars John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Arrow) in the title role and children’s TV favourites The Krankies, playing Councillor and Jimmy Krankie. This is the legendary duo’s seventh season in panto alongside the Torchwood star. The show, produced by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer, will also include a spectacular 3D sequence, which will see audiences travel on a very special adventure alongside Dick Whittington and his trusty cat! This amazing, high-energy pantomime treat which will entertain Manchester Opera House audiences throughout this this festive season. Book and find out more on the Opera House website.

Winter Wonderland

Event City, Trafford Park, Manchester

9th December  –  1st January
The UK's biggest indoor fun park, your ticket gives you access to all of the rides and shows. Session Times are 4 hours long and vary by day, but are generally a daytime session over lunchtime and an early evening session. Ticket Prices are £20.50 per person (3+), OAP £15, Family of 4 £70. This includes everything except prize-winning sideshow games (Hook A Duck etc) and food/drink stalls. To book tickets and find out more visit the Winter Wonderland website. or call 0843 209 1842.

We reviewed Winter Wonderland last year and we were back this year. You can see my Manchester Winter Wonderland 2017 review here...

Forever Manchester “Home Alone” screening

Odeon Cinema, Great Northern Warehouse, Deansgate, Manchester

10th December, 2pm. 
Join Forever Manchester for a special charity screening of the Christmas classic “Home Alone”  – the perfect film to kick off the yuletide countdown. Tickets cost £10.75 for adults and £5.75 for children with all proceeds from the event being donated to the Forever Manchester charity - raising money to fund and support community activity across Greater Manchester. There’s also the opportunity to check out the Great Northerners exhibition currently being held. Stan Chow has immortalised ten of the greatest northerners - voted for by the general public - in portrait form. To purchase tickets, click here.

The Siege Of Christmas

Contact, Oxford Road, Manchester

13th - 20th December
Following last year’s sell-out production, Contact and Slung Low have joined forces to present this high-octane, energetic and family friendly promenade piece. Armed with individual sets of headphones from which instructions and clues are delivered, the action kicks off from the theatre’s main entrance. Join your hosts who will lead the way searching for militant mince pieces, rapping wrapping paper and other unexpected seasonal surprises. And Christmas won’t be Christmas until the Siege has ended... Performances at 11am, 2pm and 6pm. Tickets are on sale now priced £13, £7 concessions and £5 for 5-10s in person at the box office, by phone on 0161 274 0600 and securely online at Not suitable for children under 5.

Wehave reviewed this interactive theatre and you can find my Contact Theatre The Siege Of Christmas review here...

CSzUK ComedySportz Improvised Pantomime 

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

15th-16th December 

An entirely different sort of all-improvised show from the team behind hit competitive comedy show ComedySportz. See all your favourite panto characters in a fabulous new pantomime, made up before your eyes using only audience suggestions and a sprinkling of fairy dust. The group, who celebrated their 16th year this November, promise a madcap evening of gags, sketches and songs as they give a new spin on classic panto archetypes and traditions.
Suits age 6+, the 3pm show on 16th December will be adapted for audiences under 6. £7 Adults £5 Concessions. Find out more or book tickets on the Waterside Arts website.

Further afield...

Christmas Adventure at Thornton Hall Country park nr Skipton, W. Yorkshire - Trip Up And Trips Out Review.

Increased security measures are now in place all over the UK, and particularly in larger cities and venues, such as Manchester. You may not be allowed any backpacks or bags over 30cm x 40cm, you may be searched on entry, or even pass through a metal detector. This is to keep you safe, but it means entry takes longer, so allow extra time. Always check the venue website for their rules before you set off - or you may be left with no option but to throw away your bag or go home disappointed. 


  1. So many great things to do in and around the area x

    1. We really are incredibly lucky - the arts are massive here. It's a wonderful area to live for that :)

  2. What a brilliant round-up, Jenny! Great to find everything in one go x

    1. Cheers Vai - I have'nt got even half of it here - there's looooooads going on! :)

  3. We love going to the panto in January - the Parr Hall in Warrington is a great shout and reasonably priced. Starts tomorrow (and we're going) until the 14th January

    1. Thanks Lisa! I hope you have an awesome time - I'll find a link and share this on my Social Media.


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