Wednesday 23 January 2019

Activities For Families in Manchester and the NW UK - Spring and Feb Half Term

It barely seems like moments since the Christmas round up, but February half term will be here before you know it, so here is my Spring round up for families of all ages in the North West UK. It's theatre heavy mainly because it's not the weather for spending hours outdoors at the moment!

Some events occur at multiple venues and some venues have multiple events, but I've tried to keep everything in best chronological order possible. Here is some of what you can get up to in Manchester and the rest of the North West UK this February to April....

The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool
Family Spring Season

Wednesday 6 – Friday 8 February
Merseyside Youth Association Young People’s Arts Festival, This year’s theme is Rise Up: Adverse Childhood Experience and Resilience, and the festival will showcase real life stories from the children and young people of Liverpool.

Sunday 10 February
The Nutcracker. The Chiltern Youth Company present this classic ballet tale. Celebrating their 10th Anniversary, this promises to be another wonderful production of the timeless ballet.

Friday 22 February
The Little Mermaid. The Panto Company bring audiences their adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic story. With stunning scenery, eye catching costumes, original songs plus up-to-date chart songs, not forgetting loads of audience participation, this makes for a thoroughly entertaining family day out.

Thursday 28 February and Friday 1 March
AniMalcolm The Musical. David Baddiel’s magical story comes to life. After a bizarre school trip unlike any other, schoolboy Malcolm begins to understand animals more deeply than anyone, changing his life forever. With outstanding physical theatre and puppetry, this is a must-see show in 2019.

Tuesday 19 March and Wednesday 20 March
Bing Live! and his friends are coming to Liverpool in their first ever stage show. Full of fun, laughter and music, Bing Live! is the perfect first theatre trip for pre-schoolers and their families.

Times and ticket prices vary. As an example, AniMalcolm Thurs 28 Feb 4.30pm / Fri 1 March 1pm & 5pm. Tickets: Adult: £16 / Child: £14 / Family £54

Find out more about all of the shows on the Epstein Theatre website.

Sharks And Mermaids
Sealife, Trafford Centre, Manchester

8th Feb to 6th May
Take a dive into the deep this Spring, become the newest recruits of the Jawsome Rangers and fulfil the mission of finding the missing shark teeth!

9th and 10th Feb / 9th and 10th March
Come down and meet the magical SEA LIFE Mermaids!

Find out more and book tickets on the Sealife website. Combi tickets are far better value! 

LEGO Movie Days / AFOL night
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Trafford Centre, Manchester

8th Feb to 28th April
The ultimate celebration of the new THE LEGO® MOVIE™ 2! Join Emmet, Wyldstyle and the gang with exclusive building activities, out-of-this-world character experiences, interactive photo opportunities and more!

13th Feb
AFOL Valentine’s night at LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Manchester.
Calling all ADULT fans of LEGO®! We’re hosting an AWESOME alternative Valentine’s night! Come along on Wednesday the 13th February at 7pm and share your LEGO Love with likeminded people, and for the singles…maybe find your missing piece!
The event is not exclusive to singles, anyone who loves LEGO is welcome to attend and mingle – there’ll be all the usual fun for regulars at AFOL nights! But to help the singles spot their potential future Mr or Mrs Brick, there will be a traffic light style Lego block badge system to identify the possibility for love.

Find out more and book tickets on the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre website. 

Spring Half Term For Families
Waterside, Sale, Manchester

Mon 11 Feb
Jack & The Beanstalk 13:30 gets the Lyngo treatment as Patrick Lynch (from Cbeebies) tells the gripping story of Jack who sells his cow for 5 magic beans and finds himself in the land above the clouds.
Ages 3+ | 50 mins  £9 | £7

Thu 14 Feb
Those Magnificent Men 19:30 is the nail-biting, side-splitting true story of this daredevil flight by Mancunians pilot Capt. John Alcock and navigator Lt. Arthur Whitten Brown as told in this hit stage play.
Age 7+ | 90 mins plus interval £12 | £10

Sat 16 Feb
Saturday Art Club 10:00 – 12:00 Monthly drop-in. Age 4+ | £2.50 | £1 Family Club members

The Incredibles 2 (PG) 14:00 - 1h 58m £5 | £2.50 Family Club members

ComedySportz 4 Tots 15:00 - An all ages, all improvised show where two teams battle it out for laughs. The earlier show is for younger audiences. Age 6 & under plus their family | 45 mins £5 | £3

Black Panther (12A) 18:00 - 2h 14m £5 | £2.50 Family Club members

ComedySportz 18:30 - An all ages, all improvised show where two teams battle it out for laughs. Age7+ | 2 hrs inc interval  £7 | £5

Sun 17 Feb 
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly 14:30 - One of the world’s best loved nursery rhymes is brought to life just in time to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Pam Adams' best-selling book!
Age 2+ | 70 mins £11 | £9 | Family Ticket £36

Sun 24 Feb
Four Go Wild in Wellies 11:00 & 14:30- A whimsical adventure featuring bobble hats, scarves, tents that have a life of their own and, of course, lots of fun in wellies!
Age 3 – 5 yrs | 25 mins £7 | £5

Find out more and book tickets on the Waterside website

The Valentine’s Movie Experience
Mayfield Depot near Manchester Piccadilly.

Wednesday 13 February to Sunday 17 February
Run messages and videos on the big screen for audience members who want to make a public declaration of love for their other half while a live band play a programme of special love songs, before venturing through a snow-kissed romantic forest to reach the pop-up cinema.
Visitors can enjoy watching their favourite film while cuddling up under cosy blankets with a hot drink or a cocktail. And a tasty array of street food for sale will include woodfired pizzas and Jamaican barbecue, along with gourmet burgers and hot dogs. Exclusive candyfloss roses will be available to purchase.

Tickets for all the films start from £14.99.

For more details visit

Wednesday 13 February 2019 at 7pm

Thursday 14 February 2019 at 6.30pm

DIRTY DANCING (with live dancers mirroring what is happening on screen)
Thursday 14 February 2019 at 9.30pm

Friday 15 February 2019 at 6.30pm

DIRTY DANCING (with live dancers mirroring what is happening on screen)
Friday 15 February 2019 at 9.30pm

Saturday 16 February 2019 at 1pm

Saturday 16 February 2019 at 6pm

DIRTY DANCING (with live dancers mirroring what is happening on screen)
Saturday 16 February 2019 at 9pm

Sunday 17 February 2019 at 1pm

intu Trafford Centre, Circe Fountain

Thursday 14 Valentine’s Day at 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 7.30pm and 8.30pm,
Tuesday 19 and Thursday 21 February at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm
intu Trafford Centre is inviting shoppers to enter a wonderful world of magic and fantasy, as one of its 14 iconic fountains is visited by a medley of singing mermaids. The musical mermaids will entertain romantic shoppers with a repertoire of love songs ranging from George Ezra to Sam Smith.

Over £600,000 has been raised by the centre from coins thrown into the fountains by shoppers – all donated to local causes via the Fountain Fund. Three local charities are chosen by shoppers every year to receive the coins – 2019’s charities are the Army Benevolent Fund, Trafford Domestic Abuse Service and Once Upon a Smile.

The Shake Lab will have new mermaid-themed drinks, available 18-24 February. The Mermaid Shake (milk, ice-cream, strawberries, blue cream and sprinkles) will be priced at £4.50 (£3.50 for family club members). The Magical Mermaid Boost (strawberry yoghurt, milk, apple juice, raspberries and blueberries) will be £4.85 (£3.85 for family club members).

For more information on the Mermaid Event and Family Club see the intu Trafford Centre events pages.

Twirlywoos Live
Liverpool / Manchester / St Helens

The Lowry, Manchester on Fri 15 February - Mon 18 February

The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool on Wed 20 February

St Helens Theatre Royal on Sat 27 April

From the producers of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Sarah and Duck Live on Stage comes another enchanting show for young audiences. The Twirlywoos are setting sail around the UK to welcome young fans along for a theatrical adventure. Expect mischief, music and plenty of surprises as they share the delight of discovery. With beautifully inventive puppetry the show promises a cast full of all your favourite characters from the CBeebies’s hit.

Find out more about the entire tour on the Twirlywoos Live website or via the venues directly - The Lowry / The Epstein Theatre / Theatre Royal.

Z-Arts Spring Family Programme
Hulme, Manchester

February 2019 – February 2020
A World Inside A Book: Gruffalos, Dragons and Other Creatures
Join Z-arts for a journey into the world of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, with the UK’s first immersive exhibition of their wonderful work! Creep into a magical world of forests, miniature houses, dragons and other creatures. Can you spot The Gruffalo? Watch out, it might be a bit of A Squash and a Squeeze to get around the life-sized cow! Who’s that flying overhead, could it be Zog? Discover the underwater world of Tiddler, set sail with The Snail and the Whale and take your seat for the ride of your life with The Room on the Broom. Best suited to children 0-8 and their families.

Monday 18 - Friday 22 February
The Snail and the Whale slime-making workshop 
Get gooey and join Z-arts for a fun-filled workshop where you can make your own gloopy, stretchy, messy slime inspired by Julie Donaldson’s much -loved tale, The Snail and The Whale.

Sunday 17 March
Z-access Family Fun Day 
The return of Z-arts’ free fun-day, specially designed for families and friends with additional requirements and disabilities. Come along to enjoy drama, dance, music, arts and crafts together as a family in a safe, calm and welcoming environment. Trained staff, facilitators, and a BSL interpreter will be at Z-access to welcome you and support all families. As part of Z-access, a relaxed performance of Four Go Wild in Wellies (see below listing) will be taking place at 11am.

Friday 8 February, Friday 8 March, Friday 12 April, 5pm onwards.
Rush Hour Jam with Arun Ghosh
Join jazz-instrumentalist of the year Arun Ghosh, his house bands and his special guests for a free evening of music, interaction and amazing live jazz that’s suitable for the whole family!

Every Friday
Friday Night is Family Night! 
The whole family can come together and play at Z-café on Family Night. There are board games, craft activities, Lego, and sometimes Arun Ghosh’s Rush Hour Jam will be taking place at the same time. It’s the perfect chance to relax and have fun once the week is done.

Big Imaginations Shows

5 More Minutes - Saturday 26 January 
Returning to Z-arts after three sell-out shows in 2016, 5 More Minutes is a funny, magical show about bedtime for ages 3 – 6 years, exploring the fun and fantasy that can be had in that magical time between awake and asleep.

Over the Moon - Saturday 23 February.
A first opera for ages 0 – 2 years. Bringing together gentle classical music with familiar nursery rhymes and games in an interactive musical adventure for babies, join Z-arts for a musical journey through the day: waking, eating, playing and sleeping.

Romeo and Juliet - Saturday 2 March.
A troubled Friar rushes us through the mutinous streets of Verona, plunging the audience into a community torn apart by prejudice, conflict and violent crime. Award winning company China Plate bring Shakespeare to life for young audiences ages 9+ years with gripping story-telling, live music and striking visual effects.

Stripey Honey…is very yummy – Friday 8 March
A brand new commission from Big Imaginations by Mashi Theatre, Stripey Honey … is very yummy is a touching and funny story for ages 5+ years of how tigers, bees and honey collectors learn to live and play together.

Four Go Wild in Wellies - Sunday 17 March
A playful look at the joy of inventiveness and curiosity, the negotiation of social structures, and how friendships are built, broken and mended as play emerges from interaction with each other and with the world around them. Suitable for ages 3 – 5years. There will be a relaxed performance that takes place alongside the Z-access family fun day (further information below).

Big Up! – Friday 29 & Saturday 30 March
A new show for ages 3 -6 years from Z-arts’ associate artists Theatre Rites and 20 Stories High, Big Up is perfect for little people who want to be Big, and Big people who just might have forgotten how to play. What happens when a Beatboxer, a Singer and a Puppeteer arrive on stage, but nothing is ready for them? Developed through research with young adult parents, young carers and their children from working class and culturally diverse backgrounds, there’s no set, no instruments, no puppets. No rules. Come and watch as they create a world full of joy and chaos!

Muckers - Saturday 13 April 
Presented by award-winning theatre maker Caroline Horton. Muckers is a funny, magical, and mischievous production for ages 7+ telling the story of Paloma and Pijon, who love to muck about together. They run wild. They dress up. Like tigers, flamenco dancers, queens, kings, rabbits and Lady Gaga. With them, life is fun, funny and a little bit loopy.

Haphazard - Saturday 27 April
Brought to you by Word of Warning and Z-arts. Haphazard is a free day out for the curious. Intriguing images and offbeat oddities will be dotted around the historic Z-arts building. Playful, quirky, engaging and sometimes plain daft: an afternoon for kids and their adults. Turn up at any time; come and go as you please... and expect the unexpected!

Find out more and book tickets on the Z-Arts website, by ringing 0161 232 6089 or by visiting in person.

Victorian Fairground
Science And Industry Museum, Manchester

16th -18th February
The museum is FREE to enter but over half term there are some added events which are paid for - although there is plenty to see to fill a whole day already!
Roll up, roll up! Our Victorian style Fairground is back for February half term. Take a spin on the carousel, scream around the helter skelter and try your luck at Hook a Duck. Buy your tickets online in advance and get 6 rides for the price of 5!

Find out more and book tickets on the SIM website

Elmer The Patchwork Elephant
The Lowry, Manchester

Tue 19 – Thu 21 February
‘Elmer the Patchwork Elephant’ celebrates his 30th birthday with a brand-new live stage adaptation by Selladoor Family, based on the classic children’s book series by David McKee.
Elephants, as everyone knows, are big, have trunks, and are grey, but Elmer is a patchwork of brilliant colours! His fun-loving and cheerful personality keeps everyone in a playful mood, until the day he gets tired of being different and tries to blend in with the herd.
‘Elmer The Patchwork Elephant’ live on stage tells the tale of an elephant that stands out – both with his patchwork-coloured skin and his sense of humour – but ultimately realizing that his friends have always valued his unique characteristics.

Times: 11am Thu. 2pm Wed & Thu. 4pm Tue & Wed.
Tickets: £16. Family ticket (for 4) £54.

To book tickets and find out more, see The Lowry website

The Noise Next Door
Storyhouse, Chester

Wednesday 20 February
The UK’s premier improv comedy troupe The Noise Next Door bring their live show to Storyhouse for the very first time this spring, with a double bill for all the family.
2pm: The Noise Next Door: At Sea is a family show featuring mermaids, magic, sea-shanties and swords in a show audiences will treasure. Join the crazy crew for an adventure on the high seas in a bid to chase down the fearsome Captain Bloodbeard. The group will take suggestions from the audience and transform them into jaw-dropping scenes and songs in the blink of an eye.
8pm: The Noise Next Door: Remix is a new full-length show for adults promising off-the-cuff cheeky comedy, fantastically funny scenes and songs, together with a blend of ludicrous characters, witty one-liners, epic stories, and explosive physicality. Remix will see the chaotic and charming quartet change the game with their most creative, cutting edge and hilarious show yet.

Tickets for The Noise Next Door: At Sea are priced at £6. Tickets for The Noise Next Door: Remix are priced at £16.50. Each ticket is subject to a £1.50 booking fee.
Find out more at The Noise Next Door website.

Book tickets online at , by phone 01244 409 113 or in person at Storyhouse.

More events will be added over the coming weeks!

Looking further ahead:

Storyhouse, Chester

25-30 March 2019
This production of Annie recently ran for an extended season in the West End following a sell-out tour of the UK and Ireland in 2015/16 as well as a recent sell-out season in Toronto. Anita Dobson will star as ‘Miss Hannigan’
Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Determined to find her real parents, her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search…
With its award-winning book and score, this stunning new production includes the unforgettable songs ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’, ‘Easy Street’, ‘I Don’t Need Anything But You’ and ‘Tomorrow’.

Shows daily 7.30pm, plus Weds and Sat matinees 2.30pm
To find out more or book tickets visit, call 01244 409 113 or visit in person.

Storyhouse, Chester

Fri 5 – Sun 7 April
Freckle Productions and Rose Theatre Kingston are delighted to announce the world premiere stage adaptation of Zog, based on the book by Julia Donaldson with illustrations by Axel Scheffler, on its first ever UK Tour.
Large in size, and keen in nature, Zog is so eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon’s school, where dragons learn all the things that dragons need to know.  Zog tries so very hard, perhaps too hard, and he bumps, burns and roars his way through years one, two and three. Luckily, the plucky Princess Pearl patches him up ready to face his biggest challenge yet…a duel with a knight, Sir Gadabout the Great! Zog promises to be roaring fun for children and families of all ages.

Find out more on the website:

Friday 5 April 2019 at 4:30pm
Saturday 6 April 2019 11am/2pm/4pm
Sunday 7 April 2019 11am/2pm

Book tickets and find out more online, ring 01244 409 113 or visit in person.

I am unlikely to be reviewing any of these shows, nor have I received any incentive to add them to this post! If you have anything suitable to add in the Northwest UK over Spring 2019 for families with children of any age, please email and include a photo! 


  1. Wow so many great things to see and do xx

    1. It's mainly theatre so far, but I've already got a few more emails to add to it :)

  2. Thanks for this Jenny, I'm trying to book lots more local things for us to do as a family this year so this guide is really helpful. I've already been looking at the Julia Donaldson events they all look fab. I hope your operation goes well x

    1. Thank you so much Angela, that's really kind of you! There is so much Julia Donaldson stuff, I'm quite disappointed my boys are getting a bit big for her now. The 'A World Inside A Book' immersive exhibition at Z-Arts should be excellent. We went to their Michael Rosen one a cople of years ago and it was amazing.


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