Thursday 12 July 2018

Summer Holiday Stuff for Families in the Manchester and North West Area!

Below is a list with loads of fabulous workshops, performances, plays, craft activities, museums, fundays and all of that other stuff which creates Summer holiday memories your children can take with them forever. I'm based in Manchester and so are most of the listings below, but the whole NorthWest UK is covered. Events are suitable for families with children - some for younger audiences and some which even your teenagers won't mind joining in with...

If you have anything suitable you wish me to add, send an email with a short write up including a photo, plus date, time, location, cost and a little about it to

In as close to date order as is sensible:
Bee In The City
Locations around Manchester including museums, libraries, theatres, parks and the Cathedral. 

7th July to 23rd September 
For 3 months 131 decorated bees will be residing at locations all across the city. You can find out the locations, as well as discover who designed each of the bees and see photos in this great guide from Manchester Evening News. That should keep you busy...


Bee The Change
People's History Museum, Manchester

7th July to 23rd September
One of the highlights of Manchester’s Bee in the City sculpture trail is a dazzlingly colourful giant Sylvia Pankhurst bee celebrating the suffragette story, in the entrance foyer of the People’s History Museum. Joining her at the People’s History Museum are five Little Bee sculptures that have been designed by pupils from schools around the region.
The Sylvia bee has been sponsored by UNISON Manchester and UNISON North West and is the creation of Manchester based designer and artist Anna Mullin (AKA Sneaky Raccoon) and is emblazoned across the back with “Bee the Change”.

Represent! Voices 100 Years On is a family-friendly exhibition and features iconic artefacts, banners, photographs and interactive elements from campaigns including that of the suffragettes. Open daily until Sunday 3 February 2019.

Wednesday 8 August 2018, 1.00pm – 3.00pm
Free Family Friendly Workshop to celebrate involvement in Bee in the City, PHM are giving children the chance to create their very own clay bee to take home! Make Your Mark: creative workshops are drop in activities taking place every Wednesday in the school summer holidays, booking suggested via Eventbrite, pay what you feel at the event.

People’s History Museum is open seven days a week from 10.00am to 5.00pm, and is free to enter with a suggested donation of £5. To find out about visiting the museum, its full events programme and more, visit

Eureka! Children's Museum, Halifax
BIG summer-long festival

21st July to 2nd September
Visit Eureka! in Halifax this summer for a boredom-busting festival of tech, science, performance and play, including the new exhibition Fusion: Adventures in digital art, the latest interactive tech exhibition to take-over the Spark gallery. Eureka! will be open daily all holiday from 10am to 5pm, offering a packed programme of activities perfect for family fun come rain or shine.
Kids (and grown-ups) can try their hand at coding, animation, Minecraft and more with a changing programme of hands-on activities and workshops. There will also be regular visits on different dates from a mouth-watering array of special guest performers including storytellers Gacko and Ian Douglas, circus performers The Great Mandavi and Circus Fudge, outdoor performances and activities with Same Difference Arts, Paris Bubbles, and explosive science shows from Professor Pumpernickel.

For more information, including weekly activity programmes, visit the Eureka! website . Daily ticket entry can be upgraded to an annual pass free of charge during your visit!

Brazilica Festival
Pier Head, Liverpool

Events run throughout July
Main Carnival 14th July, 12pm – 8pm
Brazilica, Liverpool's Samba Festival is back for the 11th consecutive year, and the Brazilica main stage will once again be located within The Pier Head Village, with a full dayprogramme suitable for all ages. World class entertainment, locally-sourced street food, artisan markets, high flying thrill rides and activity-based family workshops.
Already confirmed for 2018’s festival, the Brazilian Film Festival will once again return, plus a Fringe Festival packed with a wealth of exhibitions, workshops and performances.
The hugely popular and extravagant Carnival Queen competition will also return on Friday 13 July.

Keep up to date with all Brazilica Festival activity at

Comedy Club 4 Kids (age 6+)
Z-arts, Hulme, Manchester

Saturday 14 July, 2.30pm (Age 6+)
Z-arts is laughing its way into Summer with a stand-up comedy show suitable for the whole family. Established in 2005, Comedy Club 4 Kids gathers the best stand-ups and sketch acts from the international circuit to do their thing for an audience of children aged 6+ and their families… but without the rude bits!
The line-up includes:
Matt Highton (MC) –  stand-up storyteller whose shows are renowned for their imagination, anarchy and hilarity.
ComedySportz – fast-paced improv where two teams battle it out. Feelgood and always unpredictably funny with a referee on hand to call fouls and help the audience decide the winner.
Lee Kyle – he performed in an all-male Spice Girls tribute act and spent a decade as a professional wrestler before becoming a stand-up comedian. A regular on TV and radio.

For more information on any of the shows, events and activities, drop into Z-arts in Hulme, visit the Z-arts website or call Z-arts Box Office on 0161 232 6089.

Open-Air Theatre
Ordsall Hall, Salford

Pride & Prejudice - 18th July 7.30-9.30pm with Heartbreak Productions and a pop-up gin bar

Twelfth Night - 26th July 6.30-9pm with The Handlebards (all male troupe). - We've reviewed this, and you can see our review of The Handlebards perform Twelfth Night here...

Romeo & Juliet - 1st August 6.30-9pm with The Handlebards’ female troupe

The Princess and the Giant - 9th August. Two performances: 10.30am and 2.30pm Puppetry with Folksy Theatre.

The Railway Children - 16th August 2-3.30pm with Heartbreak Productions

Pirate Pearl and the Big Blue Monster! - 23rd August 2.30pm with The Little Blue Monster Company. Under 2's go free.

Loves Labours Lost - 26th August from 7pm with Folksy Theatre.

Bring a chair/blanket and something to drink. Pre-order picnic available £8.95 each. For more information see my preview post.

Swinton-On-Sea Beach
Swinton Square

21 July to 5 August
Dreaming of the crashing waves and sand between your toes? There’s no need to wait until your summer holiday, we’re bringing the beach to Swinton Square this summer – join us for over two weeks of FREE family fun!
The Swinton-on-Sea beach will be located under the canopied area by Quality Save, and will be open daily from 10am – 4pm.

Refract Summer Arts Festival
Waterside, Sale

Refract is 10 days of amazing arts, ending with The Magic Numbers on 28th July. There is something for every age group and taste. and far too much to list in a round up. See the full Refract programme here, and some highlights below:

Sunday 22 July, 1.30 and 3.30pm. 
The Tale of the Cockatrice. Age 5-12
"Deep in the vaults of an ancient priory, a hideous creature awakens. The deadly Cockatrice is born" Breath-taking puppetry and spine-tingling live music combine in this dark and winding fable for monster-lovers young and old.

Saturday and Sunday 21 and 22 July at 6.30pm
War with the Newts. Age 12+.
Produced in association with The Royal Exchange Theatre, Square Chapel arts centre and Waterside. Based on an original 1930's novel, set in the hull of a fishing vessel, the plot follows the unfurling of events after the discovery of an intelligent race of newts. Audiences will be taken to the surprise performance space on the day from the box office.

Wednesday 25th July at 10.15, 11.45, 1.15 and 2.45
Small Worlds. Age 5-11.
Extraordinary theatre inside a magical canvas dome with five wordless characters - a bug, a goose, a fox cub, a cat and a six year old girl. Unforgettable visual theatre, using puppetry, miniature landscapes and original animated film and music.

Thursday 26 July at 7.30pm
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical. Age 12+
A brand new musical comedy is created from scratch at each performance as audience suggestions are transformed on the spot into the all singing, all dancing productions with hilarious results.

Saturday 28 July at 11.30 and 2.30pm
Perfect. Age 5-9.  
A young boy waits excitedly for the birth of his new sibling and then meets his disabled sister for the first time. Puppetry, live music, animation and physical theatre from the award-winning Tessa Bide.

Full line up - or follow the hashtag on Social Media #refract18

Pinocchio: The Boy Within 
The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 July
Liverpool-based theatre company Cuckootales, joined by Helen O’Grady Drama Academy, present a brand new and enchanting family show using amazing puppetry and costumes and a host of memorable songs. This adaptation packed with humour focuses on the human bonds of friendship, family and compassion. Watch out for the lies, and the ever-growing nose....

Tickets are on sale now. £10 Standard, £9 Concession, £35 Family (booking fees and venue restoration levy apply).
Monday 23rd 2pm & 6pm and Tuesday 24 July 11am, 3pm & 7pm
The 11am show on 24th July will be a Relaxed Performance, perfect for anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed performance environment – including those with an autism spectrum condition or learning disability. There will also be a ‘Meet and Greet’ with the cast after this performance.

To book tickets please call 0844 888 4411, go online at or visit in person at The Epstein Theatre Box Office from 12pm - 6pm Monday - Saturday.

 Summer Programme
Z-Arts, Hulme. All ages. 

Monday 23 July – Saturday 4 August
The Circus is Coming to Town. Age 11+
If you’ve always thought drama was all about clowning around, this time you’re right. The Circus is Coming to Town on  is a fun and colourful fortnight of activities for ages 11+. Work with professional performers from the world of mime, street theatre and circus to perfect your skills and perform unusual theatre in an unusual space.

Monday 23 – Friday 27 July
Captain Planet. Ages 6 – 10
Become a ‘green’ conscious superhero at Z-arts with Captain Planet. Over the course of the week try different arts activities that are themed to the environment, from upcycling to natural pigment painting. Those that attend the whole week can even gain their very own Carbon Literacy certificate!

Saturday 28 July
Hulme is Where the Art is - a FREE family fun day for all ages, created and presented by Z-arts and Venture Arts. Accessible arts and crafts activities to inspire, entertain and engage!

Saturday 28th July
Climb That Tree, All ages.
Follow Hulme Is Where The Art Is with a performance by the award-winning songwriter David Gibb. Hilarious, surreal, and suitable for children and adults alike. Tickets for Climb That Tree are £2 (£1 concession rate).

Monday 20, Wednesday 22, Friday 24 August
Z-arts’ Creative Picnics
The return of Z-arts’ Creative Picnics. Fun-filled mornings of creative activity centred on the theme of hedgehogs, with different sessions featuring music, dance, and crafts. Afterwards, you can join Z-arts for a relaxing lunch either at Z-arts or at Hulme Park (weather permitting!)

For more information on any of the shows, events and activities, drop into Z-arts in Hulme, visit the Z-arts website or call Z-arts Box Office on 0161 232 6089.

Intu Trafford Centre's 20th Birthday Celebrations. 

1st August - 2nd September
To celebrate their 20th birthday intu Trafford Centre have created a series of spectacular Summer events to keep the whole family entertained during the school holidays.
Join us on Birthday Street outside Topshop and get celebrating with everything from pop-up princess parties, confetti cannons, glitter parties, crazy creations and a variety of musicians. Edible bubble parties, princess performances and nitro ice cream.

There's loads going on, find out more on their website and social channels.

The Lowry, Manchester
What The Ladybird Heard Live

Wednesday 1st – Sunday 26th August
Based on the best-selling picture book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, Kenny Wax Family Entertainment in association with Matthew Gregory presents What The Ladybird Heard Live on stage. Two crafty robbers, one tiny ladybird and a whole farmyard of fun!
This action packed 55-minute adventure has original songs, live music, puppetry, plenty of audience participation and lots of laughs, making it the perfect treat for families with children aged three and up.

Wed 1 - Sun 26 August (excluding Mondays), 11am & 2pm, tickets £16. Relaxed Performance Thu 9 August, 2pm / Audio Described Performance Thu 16 August, 2pm / British Sign Language Thu 23 August, 2pm

Saturday 11th August 10am-6pm is The Lowry's annual OPEN DAY.
Once again the venue will open its doors for a day of free activities that enable visitors of all ages to explore the venue in a completely new way. All activities and events are free. Visitors can book places online for some of the workshops in advance. There will also be a limited number of places available for each ticketed event on the day, these will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
A timetable of events will be released and online booking opens on Monday 6 August on The Lowry’s website.

For more information and to book tickets, see The Lowry website

CBBC Summer Social
Croxteth Hall, Liverpool

3rd - 5th August 
CBBC Summer Social is the BBC’s biggest ever kids event, and the only festival to give 6-12year old’s and their families a unique lineup of CBBC favourites, alongside a host of international music acts including Union J, Johnny Orlando, Matt Terry and Mackenzie Ziegler. Find out the full line up and book tickets on the CBBC Summer Social website.

:CANCELLED: FamFest Warrington :CANCELLED:
Orford Jubilee Park

Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th August
Sadly, due to unforseen circumstances FamFest has had to be cancelled. Ticket holders will be able to get a full refund by contacting the ticketing agent that they purchased tickets through. For questions regarding refunds please contact: TicketQuarter on 0344 8000 410 or Quay Tickets on 0843 208 0500

Festival Director Pete Pinnington said: “It is with huge regret and disappointment that I have had to cancel FamFest Warrington from taking place. It’s always been an ambition of mine to host a family festival in my hometown of Warrington and I’ve put a huge amount of time, effort and money into the planning and preparation for this event. It’s heart-breaking that due to time constraints and mounting costs, the event cannot go ahead.

“The decision was not made lightly, but with unexpected expenses increasing, I would have had to scale back the festival in order to proceed, and I wasn’t prepared to compromise on the quality of event I had promised to the public.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank those businesses, ticket holders & media who have supported FamFest Warrington, and sincerely apologise for any disappointment and inconvenience caused”.

Any further updates can be found on the FamFest Warrington website

I didn't have a photo to represent Madagascar.

Madagascar – A Musical Adventure
Manchester Palace Theatre

Monday 13th – Saturday 18th August.
Based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar – A Musical Adventure follows all of your favourite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.
This wacky adventure for the whole family is brought to life by Selladoor Family, the producers behind James And The Giant Peach, Seussical and The Owl And The Pussycat and Hartshorn – Hook, producers of the Olivier Award winning Rotterdam, Murder Ballad, Urinetown and American Idiot .

For tour and booking details visit

Contact Theatre and Ockham's Razor present Tipping Point and Switch.
Upper Campfield Market Hall, Deansgate, Manchester

As Contact’s permanent home on Oxford Road is undergoing its building transformation, the company is on the road, at some unexpected and surprising places and venues across the city. For this summer double bill, Upper Campfield Market Hall on Deansgate will transform into a festival hub, complete with street food and ice cream stalls. Ockham’s Razor are a daring, exhilarating and critically acclaimed aerial and circus sensation fusing break-dance and martial arts with acrobatics and trapeze.

August 15-19th: Ockham’s Razor present their award winning show - Tipping Point featuring five outstanding aerial performers, they each transform long metal poles into a rich landscape of images with inspiring feats of acrobatic wonder high above the heads of the audiences below. Accompanied with music composed by Adem Ilhan & Quinta who have previously worked with Radiohead, Hot Chip and Bat For Lashes.
The other half of the double bill features local young people from North Manchester who will perform their brand new work – Switch – devised and developed in association with Ockham’s Razor. Executing their newly acquired and daring aerial, dance, circus and stick fighting skills.

Wed 15 – Sat 18 Aug, 7pm, with 2pm performances Sat 18 and Sun 19. Tickets are on sale now priced £15/£10 concessions. Available securely online at or by phone on 0161 274 600.

Gulliver's Travels
Octagon Theatre Bolton at Queens Park

16th August to 27th August
Based on Jonathan Swift's classic novel,  this summer Octagon, Bolton will transform Queens Park into the extraordinary land of Lilliput from classic story of Gulliver’s Travels. Travel with Gulliver to the land of Lilliput where war is brewing, trouble is coming and Gulliver finds himself at the centre of it all.
Gulliver’s fantastical adventures will be brought to life in the Octagon’s first ever park show. A cast of professional actors will be joined each performance by giant puppets, young performers, local choirs and community companies!
Gulliver's Travels is a promenade park performance - so bring your picnic and blankets to enjoy before the show, confectionery and drinks will be available to buy at the park before the show and during the interval. Pre-theatre dining is available at Queens Park Cafe

Scene 1 - The Sunken Gardens (Meet the giant Gulliver!)
Scene 2 - The Glade (Gulliver is taken to the Lilliputian Palace)
Scene 3 - The Lake (Gulliver saves the day!)
Scene 4 - The Ampitheatre (Celebrate with the Lilliputians at The Grand Finale!)

We'll be attending on press night to review and I'll add the link here. Our last review for Octagon Bolton was on a bus! Tickets £15 (£12 concessions), age recommendation 5+. Find out more about this performance on the Octagon, Bolton website.

Just So Festival
Rode Hall, Cheshire

17th - 19th August 
A family adventure beyond your wildest dreams and it really is. Set in a gorgeous backdrop, this is a family festival for families with children aged 0-11 and has art & craft, music, woodcraft, theatre, comedy, cinema, circus skills and a million more activities which are included in your entry price. We ADORE Just So Festival, and have reviewed it here, here and here.

Luna Kids Cinema
Heaton Park, Manchester / Tatton Park, Cheshire

The Luna Cinema open-air cinema company is launching Luna Kids Cinema, the UK’s first and only open-air cinema experience designed specifically for families and children of all ages. Films are screened during the day on a giant high-definition screen that allows for a perfect picture even in direct sunlight. The movies include a collection from Julia Donaldson, Moana, The Greatest Showman, The LEGO Batman Movie, Sing and a host of family favourites. Tickets start at £12.50 for adults and £7.50 for kids.

Heaton Park, Manchester
23-28 August 3 showings most days

Tatton Park, Cheshire
31 August - 4 September, 3 showings most days. 

There are too many movies to list here, you can find more details on the Luna Kids Cinema website.

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