Friday 8 November 2019

What's On this Winter for families in Manchester and the North West UK

Christmas is coming! And so are all of those fabulously festive events, theatre and days out. Here's a rundown of some of what's happening in Manchester and the NorthWest UK over the next couple of months - for families with kids of all ages, including teenagers and students.

If you have anything you'd like me to add, please send it over with a low res photo - try and give us a couple of weeks notice and please do not send me any more events in Bury St Edmunds - that is a far cry from Bury, North Manchester! We like FREE and low cost events and activities best of all.

Collage of 4 photos from plays listed below

Christmas at Z-Arts
Z-Arts, Hulme, Greater Manchester

A World Inside A Book: Gruffalos, Dragons and Other Creatures
Until December 2019
Immersive Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler inspired world to explore
0-8 years old and their families : £6 - £7

Lantern Making, Z-arts at Ascension Church - Hulme
Friday 6 December 3.30-5.00pm
All ages

Festive Family Jam
Friday 6 December 4.30pm – 6.30pm
Yemi Bolatiwa & The Jam Jivers perform a special Soul & Motown Festive Family Jam live in Z-cafe. Performances from Z-arts’ youth groups and unveiling of the Bright Sparks Art Stars visual arts exhibition. Festive crafts, mulled wine, mince pies and winter hot pot available from Z-café all evening.
All ages : Free

The Magic of Christmas Past
Saturday 7 December 12pm – 4pm
Travel back to 1843. An old-time festival fayre with hook a duck, tin can alley, ring toss games and play your cards right. Treasure Hunt, Christmas Storytime by the fireside, hula hooping, circus skills, and a craft station to make your own Christmas decorations and cards. Screenings of A Muppets Christmas Carol and Scrooged.
All ages £2

The Scarecrows’ Wedding
Wednesday 11 – Saturday 14 December 10.30am / 1pm
A heart-warming and award-winning adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s bestselling book follows Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay, two excellent scarecrows who are planning to get married. That is until devilishly smooth Reginald Rake gets involved…
Ages 3+ : £11

Twinkle Twinkle
Friday 20 – Sunday 22 December 10.30am / 12.30pm / 2pm
A heart-warming adventure in melody and light, made for especially young
audiences for Christmas.  Ages 1-3 : £6 - £9

Find out more and book tickets on the Z-Arts website

Blue Martini Ice Rink with families skating in large tunnel shaped building

Manchester Ice Rink experience

15th November to 5th January - we visited as guests, our review is here...
MediaCity is transforming into a festive world with a wet-weather-proof undercover Ice Rink made from real ice plus Christmas Market and Light Festival. The Ice Rink will feature “The Retreat” -  a winter cabin open to everyone, not just those skating.
The Retreat will offer an array of drinks including hot cider, homemade mulled wine, draft beers, wines, a range of soft drinks, teas and coffees. They’ve not forgotten hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream, and, because it’s Salford, there will be hot Vimto on tap too. Happy hour offers from 5pm till 7pm  Monday to Friday

Manchester Ice Rink at MediaCityUK will be open to the public as follows:
Monday – Friday: 3:00pm – Last Skate Session ends 20:45
Saturday and Sunday (and school Christmas holidays): 10:00am – Last Skate Session ends 21:00

Prices for an hour £13 Adults / £11 children / £40 family of four. Students tickets are £10, and only available in person at the rink from Monday to Thursday up to December 21st. ID must be shown.

To book and to find more information on timings and pricing, as well as discounted tickets for a draft beer or mulled wine and an ice skating ticket, see

Santa's Grotto And Snow Play
Chill Factorᵉ, Manchester

Until 24th December (Times and dates vary)
The only way to see Santa which includes indoor snow! We visited to review and had an excellent time. Under 4's Mini Moose Land, 4+ play on the Snow Park. Includes giant elves, card-making and a fantastic visit with Santa.

22nd November  and 29th November 1:30pm to 7:30pm
Autism friendly grotto and Mini Moose Land sessions costing £8 for 1 child and 1 adult. These sessions are designed specifically for guests with autism and their families or carers.

Find out more and 10% discount code on my blog post review. Booking strongly recommended. 

Christmas round up Waterside Sale

Waterside, Sale
Autumn/Winter Programme for families

16 ComedySportz 4 Tots: 15:00
16 ComedySportz: 18:30
17 Emily Rising: 11:30 & 14:00
26 Nov – 31 Dec Mr Popper’s Penguins (see below - and my review here).
13 &14 ComedySportz Panto: times vary
14 ComedySportz Panto (Tots): 15:00
19 – 22 Glisten: times vary

Find out more and book tickets at

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
St Helens Theatre Royal

Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 November

For more information or to book tickets please visit the Theatre Royal Box Office (Mon–Sat 10am–5pm), call 01744 756 000 or log on to:

Hatch, Mancunian Way, Manchester

19th November - 24th December
A programme of special events that celebrate the beautiful yuletide season all in the spectacular setting of Hatch, which will be transformed for Christmas into a natural winter hideaway via festive greenery, foliage and light.
Thursday 21st November
Late Night Christmas Shopping Launch
Tuesday 26th November and every Tuesday until Christmas 6pm-7pm
Creative Christmas Workshops Launch at Bulb: To book, visit Bulb’s Instagram account - @Bulb. Flower Studio.
Wednesday 27th November
Mindful Mandalas - Christmas special: 6pm - 8pm
£15 per person (ticket includes materials and £5 donation to Mind Charity).The next Mindful Mandalas workshops runs on Wednesday 11th December.
Open Mic Night - Christmas special: 7pm - 10pm
Grab a blanket, a hot drink and take a perch in front of the stage for a seasonal special of our monthly Open Mic Night!
Quingo: 7.30pm - 10pm.
Electrik Box’s cross between a quiz and bingo every Wednesday during Evergreen. Free to play.
Friday 29th November (and every Friday until Christmas)
Little Elf Workshops: 11am - 1.30pm
Drop the kids off at Hatch’s very own elf workshop and take time off. Head to the FB page to book your place
Friday 29th November- Saturday 30th November
Sustainable Christmas Markets: 5pm - 9pm
Manchester’s first sustainable Christmas market with over 25 brands.
Thursday 5th December
Quizimodo – Christmas Special: 8pm - 10.30pm
£1 to play. Pay on the night. Limited spaces, so come down early.
Sunday 8th December
Santa Paws: 12pm - 6pm
Get a picture of your pooch with Santa Paws and a doggie gift for £5.
All proceeds go to Manchester Dogs Home. Dog market all day long!
Saturday 7th December
Small Business Saturday Giveaway
Visit Hatch during this year’s Small Business Saturday to be in with a chance of will be bagging a surprise gifts throughout the day just for supporting the independent businesses on site.
Saturday 14th December
Hatch x Afflecks Market: 12pm - 6pm
A one-off festive market, creating the biggest indie, eccentric Christmas shopping experience in the city!

The Art of the Brick 
Unit 5 Great Northern Warehouse, Deansgate, Manchester

Friday 22nd November - 20th April 2020 (we had press tickets and reviewed - my The Art Of The Brick Review is here and it's photo heavy).
Featuring almost 100 pieces of art made from  more than a million iconic LEGO bricks, masterfully positioned with artistic skill by award-winning artist Nathan Sawaya.
The Art of the Brick features 3D sculptures and oversized portraits from Sawaya’s collection. Popular pieces include My Boy, Dinosaur and captivating recreations of iconic art, including the Mona Lisa.

Prices start from £9.50 for children / £14.50 for adults / concessions £12.00 / family of four £42.00.
Sunday – Wednesday: 10am – 6pm (last entry 5pm)
Thursday: 10am – 8pm (last entry 7pm)
Friday – Saturday:  10am – 7pm (last entry 6pm)

For more information and to book tickets for The Art of the Brick Manchester visit

Winter Family Events
Ordsall Hall, Salford

Funny Looking Kids Comedy Club
November 24th 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Salford’s first comedy club for kids crashes into Ordsall Hall with its usual jokes, sketches, quizzes and mayhem! From the first sketch to the final joke competition, a rag tag bag of tomfoolery and nonsense. Chaos and cacophony, silliness and stupidity. Comedy for kids with an alternative twist.
Recommended for ages 7 years +. Children £4.50 | Adults £6, booking required.

Father Christmas
December 8th and 15th 1pm - 4pm
Come and spend some time in the Grotto and choose a special gift from the Elves workshop in the Star Chamber. Tickets are to be purchased per child in 15 minute slots from 1pm to the final visiting at 3.30pm. £5 per child, booking required.

To find out more and book tickers, see the Ordsall Hall website

Afflecks After Dark
Afflecks Palace, Manchester

28th November 6.30pm – 9.00pm
Manchester’s iconic city centre shopping emporium is opening doors late to the public for the first time. The whole Afflecks family of independent traders are set to bring the space to life after dark with discounts, mulled wine sampling, mini workshops, free gifts, live art and a DJ set from their very own resident DJs.

Cockfields Family Farm Christmas Experience

Cockfields Family Farm Christmas Experience

30th Nov to 22nd December (weekends only) and 24th December - We visited to review, find my Cockfields Farm Christmas Experience review here.
Enjoy the most magical Family Christmas Experience this year at Cockfields Farm Park.
Special Passports, Elf School, Mrs Claus’ Kitchen (gingerbread decorating!), the Elf Village (a drink and a snack), Meet Santa’s reindeer, the Elves Workshop (where you build your very own Teddy Bear to take home), and a visit with Santa in his Magical Grotto before choosing a toy in the North Pole Toy Shop!
Your Journey wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Santa’s Stables to see Prancer & Dancer the Real Reindeer and even have a cuddle with some of Santa’s Bunnies & Guinea Pigs while you are there !

Times vary - booking is essential. 30 Nov and 1,7,8,14,15, 21, 22, 24 Dec. See the Cockfields Farm website for more details and to book tickets. 

Mr Poppers Penguins
Waterside, Sale

Tue 26 November –Tue 31 Dec - we were guests to review, you can find my Mr Popper's Penguins review here
A Kenny Wax & TC Beech Production adapted for the stage by Pins & Needles Productions.
Puppets, penguins, packing crates and pure magic abound. Painter and Decorator by day, Mr Popper spends his time dreaming of Antarctic Adventures. One day a packing crate arrives on his doorstep – out of which waddles a penguin.
Recommended for children aged between 3 and 11. 60 Minutes, no interval.
Cookies and milk packs are also available to pre-order with tickets £2.50 each.
6pm Slumber Shows pyjamas welcome!

British Sign Language (BSL) performance: Saturday 14 December at 11:00
Relaxed Performance : Saturday 14 December at 11:00
Tickets: £16.50 / £14.50 / £12.50. Schools: £10 (1 free teacher with every 9 students). Discounts available for groups and low income families.

Find out more and book tickets on

The Magical Christmas Movie Experience
Manchester City Centre

Escape to a Winter wonderland where you can wear your favourite Christmas jumper, sit back, relax, and enjoy a festive movie classic. This is a fully immersive family experience, which includes a live choir at every film screening, enchanted forest, Christmas themed refreshments – and appearances by the man of the moment, Father Christmas and his festive elves.

The Holiday
Thursday 5 December 6pm

Love Actually with a LIVE Gospel Choir
Thursday 5 December 2019 at 9pm
Friday 6 December 2019 at 9pm
Saturday 7 December 2019 at 9pm

Friday 6 December 2019 at 6pm
Saturday 7 December 2019 at 5.30pm

Home Alone
Saturday 7 December 2019 at 1.30pm

Santa Claus The Movie
Sunday 8 December 2019 at 2pm

Although indoors, visitors are encouraged to dress warm. Blankets will be provided, which will be donated to the city’s homeless community after the final screening. Tickets for all films start from £16.99.

For more details and to book visit

Cinderella at the Epstein Theatre

Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

Fri 6 Dec 2019 – Sun 5 Jan 2020
Epstein Entertainments’ debut production features a magical interactive 3D scene, bringing the panto magic to life like never before! Emmerdale’s Sammy Winward will lead this year’s star-studded cast as Cinderella, joined by Benidorm’s Crissy Rock; Brookside’s Sarah White; Shameless’ Warren Donnelly; Andrew Geater; Samantha Palin; and Lewis Devine.
Enchanted pumpkins, glass slippers, a sparkling fairy-tale carriage – Epstein Entertainments’ version of this classic tale has something for the whole family.
Various Times, check listings for details Tickets: From £11, subject to booking fee. All prices include a £1 per ticket venue restoration levy.
To book tickets please call 0844 888 4411 or go online at or in person at The Epstein Theatre Box Office from 12pm - 6pm, Monday - Saturday.

St Helens Aladdin

Regal Entertainments Ltd presents Aladdin
Theatre Royal, St Helen's

Saturday 7 December 2019 – Sunday 12 January 2020
Robin Windsor plays the title role of Aladdin in this classic tale of love, greed and a genie who will grant 3 wishes.

Tickets: From £13, times vary. Book in person at the Theatre Royal Box Office, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside WA10 1LQ (Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm). Alternatively, call 01744 756 000 or log on to:

Octagon Bolton at the football ground Treasure Island

Treasure Island
Octagon Theatre Bolton
Premier Suite at the University of Bolton Stadium. 

Sun 8 December – Fri 27 December - We were guests to review. You can find my Treasure Island review here
Following the success of last year’s production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at the stadium, the Octagon Theatre are back with their annual festive show, Robert Louis Stevenson's classic seafaring adventure.
A fearsomely talented cast of actor musicians alongside some frighteningly brilliant young people from Bolton will help us set sail on our jolly way in a fun filled family adventure bursting with music, mutiny and talking parrots!
Packed with swashbuckling songs and lashings of laughter, Treasure Island is a fun-packed show for all the family.

The Octagon Theatre building continues to be under redevelopment and will reopen early in 2020. For more information visit

ScarecrowsWedding Z-arts

The Scarecrows’ Wedding
Z-Arts, Hulme, Manchester

Wednesday 11 – Saturday 14 December
Scamp Theatre’s award-winning adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s
bestselling book is an enchanting production promising wit, drama, and wedding bells!

Wednesday 11 December, 10.30am & 1pm
Thursday 12 December, 10.30am & 1pm
Friday 13 December, 10.30am & 1pm
Saturday 14 December10.30am & 1pm

Tickets £11 per person. Essential companion tickets are available. For more information or to book tickets for The Scarecrows’ Wedding, drop into Z-arts in Hulme, visit the Z-arts website or call Z-arts Box Office on 0161 232 6089.

ComedySportz Improvised Pantomime!
Z-Arts, Manchester / Palace Cinema, Longridge

6th - 14th December
Family friendly festive fun with the ComedySportz Improvised Pantomimes - heroes, villains, songs and silliness guaranteed. Every show is different as players craft loving pastiche of panto tropes and characters from audience suggestions and a sprinkling of fairy dust. The performers don’t know their roles beforehand and might even get you involved in the action!

The Palace Cinema, Longridge PR3 3RR
6th Dec 7.30pm
Adults £10, OAPs £9, 3 – 18 year olds £7, 0-3 years £2.99

Waterside Arts, Sale M33 7ZF
13th Dec 7pm,
14th Dec 3pm*, 5pm and 7pm
Adults £7.50 Concesssions £5.50 (*3pm show for children aged 6 and under).

Find out more on the ComedySportz website or from the venues.

Snow white and the 7 dwarfs liverpool

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The Auditorium at M+S Bank Arena, Liverpool

Friday 13 – Tuesday 24 December
Union J’s JJ Hamblett leads the all-star cast as the Prince; the hilarious Mark Hudson is Dame Dolly; local talent Ellie Turner plays Snow White; the Scouse queen of panto, Radio City’s Leanne Campbell returns to play The Wicked Queen; and comedy star Bippo is also back to play Muddles.
The show is filled with love and laughter, music and comedy, breath-taking sets, astonishing special effects and lots of sparkle!

Find out more and book tickets on the M+S Bank Arena website.

The Big Snowy Christmas
The Met, Bury

19th - 24th December.
It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa has fallen from the sky! Who could possibly help deliver the presents in time? Little Blue Monster theatre present an hilarious, heartwarming tale of the brave Baby Bear who helps to save Christmas. With charming costumes and puppets, and lots of music and laughter, The Big Snowy Christmas is a perfect festive treat for children aged 3 and up.

Pyjama Performance 7pm Friday 20 and Saturday 21st December. Children (and parents) are invited to come along in their pjs and onesies, with their favourite bears, for a pre-bedtime theatre treat. Plus there’ll be freshly-baked cookies and milk available at every show.

Relaxed Performance Thursday 19 December 2pm for parents of younger children, or anyone with access needs who may not be comfortable with the usual theatre experience. A pre-show touch tour available, house lights will remain on during the show.

Tickets cost from £11 for children aged 3 or over and £13 for adults. If you wish to bring younger family ‘Babes in arms’ tickets are £1 and toddlers over 18 months but under 3 £5.

Thursday 19 December 10.30am and 2pm*
Friday 20 December 7pm
Saturday 21 December 11am, 2pm and 7pm*
Sunday 22 December 11am and 2pm
Monday 23 December 11am and 2pm
Tuesday 24 December 11am and 1pm

 Book from The Met via or by calling 0161 761 2216.

Coming up in Spring 2020.... 

Manchester Open Exhibition 2020
Part of: Push Festival 2020
HOME, Manchester

Sat 18 Jan 2020 – Sun 29 Mar 2020
Everyone’s an artist. A major open-entry art show celebrating the creative talent of over 500 Greater Manchester residents, selected by a panel consisting of art experts and community representatives.
Paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, digital and mixed media, video and audio, spoken word, performance and more - including YARN, a crowd-sourced poem (in which I have a line!).

No-one has paid me, given me gifts or anything else in order to be included in this round up. Yes, I really do spend all of those hours editing for sheer joy. 


  1. Thanks Jenny this is really useful, I've been scouting around for things to fill our weekends with in December x

    1. You're very welcome! Thank you for taking the time to comment - I hope you see something that takes your fancy :)


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I read every one and try my best to reply!