Mini Critic : The Next Step – Wild Rhythm Tour (The Lowry, Salford)

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The Next Step is a Canadian reality-style TV show that follows a group of young dancers and in the UK, this popular tween drama is broadcast on CBBC.

In this explosive collaboration,The Next Step has teamed up with new CBBC show Lost and Found Music Studios and the result is The Next Step: Wild Rhythm Tour.

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Young dancer and fan of the show Evie went along to The Lowry with her mum Karen to check it out…

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“Hi. My name is Evie and I am nine. I was lucky enough to go and see The Next Step at the Lowry for my birthday present off mum and it was way more than awesome!

When I have time I sit back and watch The Next Step on TV and it was just fantastic to see them dancing in front of my very own eyes. I felt like my brain was going to burst with excitement!

I loved seeing the dancers being themselves and getting to know their real personalities. James and Eldon were hilarious although the girls always rule. I enjoyed the choice of music and the emotions and drama of the different dances.

The video clips inspired me to start dancing more and maybe if I work hard and believe in myself I could be in A Troupe one day. I can’t wait to see them on tour again in October.”

Evie really enjoyed The Next Step and mum Karen was impressed by the interaction during the Q&A and the positive message that the young audience take away with them…

“I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as it’s based around a TV dance programme but I can honestly say we both loved it. And I reckon by the audience response and feel of excitement in the theatre that the was general feeling from everybody. My daughter sat in awe watching the energy and passion of the dancers in front of her and you could see the commitment they give to their dance. The show was full of interaction, humour, drama and emotion and you felt totally engaged with the show and performers.

The interactive aspect was great as the kids got to be involved in a Q+A session engaging with the dancers and learning a little more about them and their aspirations. The dancers and singers were great role models for the kids and told how if they believe in themselves and work hard and show commitment they will achieve their goals. A great message for the kids to take away. I always thought it was just a TV programme but it is so much more. On a personal level this cast and their stories mean such a lot to my daughter. She has had troubles at school even at the young age of nine and she says the programme helps her solve problems at school as the programme looks at relationship dynamics and how the cast work through them. Fantastic as our kids need all the help and tools they can in order to live life to its max.”

The Next Step begins touring again in the autumn.

Kicking off at the SECC in Glasgow on 21 October 2016 with more dates in Manchester, London. Nottingham,  Brighton, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Bath and Cambridge. You can click here to get your tickets.

 

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What’s on in Manchester this Easter for Families?

Are you looking for the best theatre and creative activities taking place in Greater Manchester during Easter? Look no further.

We’ve compiled a list of the best theatre shows and creative activities for all of the family.

The Easter holidays run through from Monday 4th April until Friday 15th April 2016 – for most schools. This list covers all family fun happening from March through to mid-April.

HOME,  Manchester

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Into The Hoods: Remixed Photo Credit: Hugo Glendinning

Into The Hoods: Remixed is the new updated hip-hop version of the Sondheim classic. Set in the ‘Ruff Endz Estate’, the story follows two lost school children who have been tasked to find an iPhone as white as milk, trainers as pure as gold, a hoodie as red as blood and some weave as yellow as corn. Along the way, they meet DJ Spinderella, wannabe singer Lil Red, vivacious rapper Rap On Zel, budding music producer Jaxx and embark upon a storybook adventure into the heart of a pulsating community!

Into The Hoods: Remixed is recommended for ages 7 + and is at HOME, Manchester from 6th April to 9th April 2016.

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A live adaptation of E. Nesbitt’s classic story The Railway Children (U) will be broadcast at HOME on the 28th March 2016 at 11:30 am. 

 

While you’re at HOME why not take a look at the current exhibition – Designs for Living: Clare Dorset and Chery Tenneson which is recommended for families. Admission is FREE and it opens from 11 am each day.

Oldham Coliseum

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How The Koala Learnt to Hug comes to Oldham Coliseum on Wednesday 30th March 2016. Recommended for ages 3 and over, it’s a charming production based on the book by Steven Lee. With puppet characters, great stories, sing-along songs, superb games and first class hugging all you’ll need are your ears…and your arms!

The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre, Chorlton

Back by popular demand…The Boy Who Bit Picasso returns to The Edge in Chorlton on ‘Easter’ Saturday.

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The Boy Who Bit Picasso come to The Edge in Chorlton. Photo Credit: Geraint Lewis

The story is inspired by Antony Penrose’s book which follows the story of Tony who becomes friends with Pablo Picasso.

This show promises a lot of interaction as the audience are invited to take part in a variety of art and craft activities. Suitable for everyone aged 4 and up, there will be plenty of storytelling and music as the children are introduced to one of the twentieth century’s most influential artists, Pablo Picasso.

The Boy Who Bit Picasso comes to The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre in Chorlton on Saturday 26th March 2016 with 2 showings at 11 am and 2 pm.

TOP TIP: Be sure to wear play clothes because it could get messy

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Lullaby Lane is a unique theatrical experience for children aged from 3-6 which fuses the energy and vibe of a music gig with the intimacy of theatre. It’s a charming little tale exploring childhood memories of forgotten friends, cherished toys and music-making. Featuring vibrant characters and Fran Wyburn’s original musical score, Lullaby Lane provides a great introduction for children to experience an array of string instruments, including banjo, harp, ukulele and guitar. Lovely running time of 45 minutes – perfect for little people.

Half Moon Theatre present Lullaby Lane at The Edge, Chorlton on 8th April 2016 and at Waterside Arts, Sale on 10th April 2016.

And something for the parents…

Mum’s The Word Comedy Club is the comedy gig designed for parents of babies aged 18 months and under. Hosted by comedian and new Mum, Katie Mulgrew, it’s a relaxed affair – feel free to feed, change and nurse your baby. However, the acts do perform their usual adult material so if you have an exceptionally bright 18-month-old or a mimicker, I’d probably avoid. There is a strict policy and only babies under 18 months will be permitted.

Presented by Katie Mulgrew, Mum’s The Word Comedy Club is at The Edge in Chorlton on Friday 1st April 2016 with little ones going free.

The Lowry, Salford

Calling all Michael Morpurgo fans! Where My Wellies Take Me comes to The Lowry, Salford this March. Interweaving poems and songs, we follow 9-year-old Pippa on a May Day ramble through the beautiful English countryside. Based on Clare and Michael Morpurgo’s book, Where My Wellies Take Me is a lively show celebrating the beauty of nature.

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Where My Wellies Take Me is at The Lowry Salford on 20th March 2016 at 2 pm.

 


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We’re super excited about Roald Dahl’s The Witches flying into The Lowry at the end of March. Adapted by David Wood and directed by the fabulous Nikolai Foster, Dahl’s scariest book is brought to life.

Featuring a talented bunch of actor-musicians, an original score and mind boggling illusions, The Witches promises to be a terrifying treat for all the family. Watch the trailer…if  you dare…

The Witches is at The Lowry, Salford from 21st March to 26th March 2016.

And for younger ones… Peppa Pig, George and the rest of the crew are back in Salford for their brand new live stage show, Peppa Pig’s Surprise.

Enjoy fun, games and surprises in this charming, colourful show with new songs and new life-size puppets. Running at 1 hour and 20 minutes, Peppa Pig’s Surprise promises to be the perfect theatre show for all pre-schoolers.

Peppa Pig’s Surprise is at The Lowry, Salford on 30th and 31st March 2016.

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Play Dough Photo Credit: Richard Davenport

 

 

Join Unlimited Theatre for Play Dough at The Lowry on 2nd April 2016 at 4 pm. Recommended for ages 7 and up, Play Dough is a playfully interactive show for young people 7+ and their families about the value of money. Hosts Queenie and TooMuch will lead your team through a series of high-energy games while telling you their story, and everything they know about how money really works.

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The Battle of Hastings -Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders – Horrible Histories Photo credit: Mark Douet

Horrible Histories needs no introduction. It’s a fabulous show and this edition focuses on the Groovy Greeks and the Incredible Invaders. We’ll be there – who wants to join us?

Horrible Histories – Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders is at The Lowry from the 5th April to the 9th April 2016.

 

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“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.”

From the moment his tall, red and white-striped hat appears around the door, Sally and her brother know that The Cat in the Hat is the most mischievous cat you will ever meet. With the trickiest of tricks and craziest of ideas, he turns Sally and her brothers rainy afternoon into an amazing adventure. But what will mum say when she gets home?

The Cat In The Hat is the perfect first theatre experience for children aged 3 and up and it is at The Lowry, Salford from the 11th to 13th April 2016.

A must-see for all dancers aged 3-133…

The_Tap_Dancing_Mermaid_mainTessa Bide brings her solo show, The Tap Dancing Mermaid to The Lowry, Salford on Sunday 17th April 2016.

Stick your 50ps to the bottom of your shoes and gather round to hear the Moon’s magical story about a tap dancer who creeps out of her house every night to dance to the sounds of the sea. Marina Skippett has been forbidden to dance at home by her tractor-sized Aunty. Follow her exciting adventure with stunning puppetry, live music and tap dancing.


Z-Arts, Hulme

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Engine House, the company behind critically acclaimed productions of Red Riding Hood and Flat Stanley join forces with “Britain’s favourite literary lunatics” LipService (Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding) to create a brand new show for children and their families, adapted for the stage by Olivier Award-winning writer Mike Kenny. Suitable for children over the age 4, Snow White is a magical and comic re-telling of the much-loved fairytale.

Snow White comes to Z-Arts, Hulme on the 19th March 2016.

You can also join in at the FREE Brother’s Grimm Fun Day at Z-Arts – craft, drama and storytelling – on 19th March from 12noon-4pm and it is suitable for all ages. Hurrah!

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We’re Stuck! is a theatre show recommended for ages 8-11. Join Dr Volcano and the robots on a special adventure into the heart of a top-secret research institute, where cutting edge scientists need your help tackling some extremely tricky problems. Running at 70 minutes, this interactive show promises to stretch your brain in unexpected directions.

This show is recommended for ages 8-11 due to the content and some of the problem-solving tasks, it is not advisable to buy tickets for anyone below this age range.

We’re Stuck! is at Z-Arts, Hulme from 12th April -16th April.

In addition to the performance, our friends at Z-arts have teamed up with China Plate and Manchester Science Festival to bring you a series of fun events and activities across the Easter holidays to tackle some extremely tricky maths, science and art conundrums! Why not work on your comedy skills  with the We’re Stuck comedy week?

 

For families with children 8+ and children under 8, there will be free activities on Friday the 15th April! No need to book in advance, turn up on the day to get involved! Click here for info.

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

Gorilla by Anthony Browne comes to Waterside Arts Centre, Sale from the 2nd April to 4th April 2016. Running at just 50 minutes and recommended for the ‘nearly fours’ and up, Gorilla has a really impressive creative team behind it. The story is based on an award-winning picture book by former Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne and it is brought to you by the team who produced Charlie and Lola’s Best Bestest Play and James and The Giant Peach. Take a look at the trailer…


 

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If you missed Snow White at Z-Arts – you get another chance to catch the Olivier Award-winning writer Mike Kenny’s magical and comic adaptation of the classic fairytale.

Snow White comes to Waterside Arts, Sale on the 12th and 13th April 2016.

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Lullaby Lane comes to Waterside Arts, Sale on the 10th April 2016.

There’s another chance to experience the charming Lullaby Lane at if you missed it the first time round at The Edge in Chorlton.


 

The Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange is home to Flying Saucers every Sunday. The events, activities and workshops for under 11s include storytelling sessions, craft workshops, Hard Hat Sundays and entertainment for all the family. Some workshops are age-restricted and ticketed, so it’s a good idea to book in advance as they can be very popular. Around The World in 60 Minutes is taking place on Sunday 20th March 2016 and is suitable for ages 5-8, costs £3.00 a child and adults are free. Booking is strongly recommended.

Find out more by clicking here or give the Royal Exchange box office a call on 0161 833 9833 – they’re a friendly bunch.

Trafford Music Service

The service is offering an Easter music school suitable for primary school children (from reception to year 6), running for 3 days from 4th April to 6th April 2016. During the course children will be given the opportunity to sing as well as play a selection of instruments including the violin, ukulele, guitar, recorder, fife and percussion.

The course costs £35 per day and runs from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. All instruments are provided, all you need to do is provide a packed lunch.

For more information and to book click here!

Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Join everyone for an afternoon of storytelling at the Octagon Theatre. During Storyplay: Beauty and The Beast, your little ones will be transported on a literary journey of fun and adventure – meeting all of their favourite characters, brought to life by actors from the Octagon Company.

Meet in the relaxed play area in the Octagon Bar at 4:30pm on Friday 15th April 2016. Recommended for families of all ages and costs £4 per child with a free adult place per child.

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The Macbeth Curse engulfs the Octagon in Bolton from 19th April to 23rd April 2016. Written by Terry Deary, author of Horrible Histories The Macbeth curse promises to be a perfect introduction to the magic and madness of Shakespeare. Recommended for ages 7 and up and with a running time of 60 minutes. Each showing also includes a 20 minute Q&A session after each performance.

Manchester Museum

Two FREE events are happening at Manchester Museum as part of the Greater Manchester On Film Festival (GMOFF) . While you’re paying Stan the T-Rex a visit, why not catch a FREE screening of Jurassic Park (suitable for ages 9+) or Jurassic World (suitable for 12+)?

Jurassic Park screens at 11 am on 2oth March and Jurassic World screens at 2 pm. Hit the links to book your FREE tickets through Eventbrite. There is also junk modelling from 1 pm so why not have a go at making your own  junk model dinosaur to take home?

The Whitworth

Another fantastic FREE event as part of the GMOFF at The Whitworth on Saturday 26th March 2016.

Enjoy a screening of the stop-motion animation Fantastic Mr Fox (PG) in The Whitworth’s Grand Hall. After the film, there is also the opportunity to take part in a family art activity led by The Whitworth. You will be able to have a go at making 3D art inspired by Mr Fox and co. and the wildlife in Whitworth Park. Recommended for ages 7+ and all under 16’s must be accompanied by an adult.

Interested? Booking in advance is a must. Hit the link!

National Football Museum

Finally, for budding footballers – courtesy of the GMOFF, there is a FREE screening of Carlitos and the Chance of a Lifetime at the National Football Museum on Sunday 27th March 2016. The screening starts at 11 and is recommended for ages 9 and over – however, it is a Spanish film with English subtitles which many younger children will struggle to follow. Under 16’s must be accompanied by an adult and any adults must be accompanied by a child. You can book through Eventbrite here.

 

Upstaged Manchester would like to wish you all a happy Easter and it would be super to hear your views on any of the shows or activities.

Please tweet your mini reviews to @UpstagedMCR   #upstagedfamily

 

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Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave

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Photo Credit : Kristy Stott

Since Big Fish Little Fish launched in Manchester in November 2015 their family raves have proven to be the hottest ticket in town. Always a sell-out gig, with tickets selling out for the Manchester January event in 15 minutes – once you’ve been you will know why.

With creative and exciting family fun at their core, Big Fish Little Fish host day-time dance music events which are as much about the parents as they are about the children – it’s like being at a mini festival, right in the middle of Manchester. Designed to attract the post-rave generation of parents and their offspring – it’s cool, social and there is probably no better place for it than Chorlton. We were lucky enough to bag tickets so we schooled our little fish together, and mooched on down to Chorlton Irish Club to experience the vibe for ourselves.

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‘The Parachute Dance’ is a highlight.               Photo credit : Kristy Stott
The events are recommended for families with children under the age of 8 as many of the activities are designed for younger ones. These 2-4 hour party people have taken care of everything with a secure buggy park outside and a baby chill out area upstairs. Although many of the rave parents took to the dancefloor with their babies in a sling or in arms. It’s good for mum and dad and the babies certainly enjoyed the sensory stimulation from bubble machines and roving colourful club lights. The club classics are also played at a lower level which suits little ones and parents too – great to see fellow Chorltonites striking up banter with each other. Did I mention that there is also a licenced bar?

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Photo Credit : Kristy Stott
For those who need a quieter area – there is a chill out area complete with books; for those creative minds, there are some super craft activities too – many of the children enjoyed the scribble wall and playdoh. There was also the opportunity to create your own tie or add a temporary tattoo to complete your look.

Giant balloons and glow sticks make the dance floor fun for the little people while the grown-ups fully appreciate tunes by DJing duo Heavy Feet. Every event has a theme too – this particular event was a ‘Hat and Moustache’ rave with prizes for the most creative headpieces.

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Healthy treats from The Nice Lolly Co to keep everybody happy…
Prior to becoming a big hit up North, Big Fish Little Fish have been running events in and around London as well as hosting gigs at Camp Bestival and Kendal Calling. And now they are branching out all the time with gigs planned for Edinburgh and Cardiff.

If you want to be one of the first to know about Big Fish Little Fish events – you can sign up to their mailing list here.

 

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Trick or Treat? Our theatrical picks for the family this October…

Your car is starting to get iced up in the morning, you’ve turned your central heating on and your local shop has made room on the shelves for fiery orange pumpkins, massive tubs of jelly sweets and…mince pies???

It can only mean one thing…
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We’ve rounded up the best theatrical events happening for families across Manchester this October…

The Lowry

As always The Lowry, Salford have a fantastic offering this October, especially during the half term week which runs from Sunday 25th October – Saturday 31st October.

Hurricane Boy is first up with 2 showings,  on Sunday 18th October. Running at just under an hour and recommended for ages 5 and upwards Hurricane Boy features physical storytelling alongside live music and it has received some great reviews so far from little ones and their families.

There’s all round entertainment from your TV favourites Milkshake Live! on Monday 26th October at 2pm. If your children are a little older, Morgan & West at 7pm may be more up their street – with a combination of illusion and all-round silliness, they guarantee a magic show that is suitable for all of the family, ages 5 and up.

Elsa and Anna glide in on Wednesday 28th October for ANOTHER Singalong Frozen. Do we ever tire of singing along to Frozen?? On the same day we have a Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler classic flying in – The Scarecrows Wedding. Now, we’ve been to see a number of these Donaldson classics transferred from page to stage and they are always a hit with young audiences. The Scarecrows Wedding runs from 28th October until 1st November and is recommended for those aged 3 and up.

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The Scarecrows Wedding –The Lowry

Now, who loves dinosaurs?

Dinosaur Zoo is fabulous, it really is. I took my Thing 2 when he was 3 and he was gripped throughout. Fresh from attacking the West End, Dinosaur Zoo stomps into The Lowry from the 30th October until the 1st November. Read our last review here…

Z-Arts

You need to be quick for this one…on 10th October Flyaway Katie, suitable for ages 2-7, is at Z-Arts in Hulme. Based on the popular children’s book by Polly Dunbar and presented by Long Nose Puppets and Manchester Literature Festival –  it’s been described as ‘magical and beautiful’ (The Guardian). Also, Bear and Butterfly zooms in on Wednesday 28th October, suitable for ages 4-7, it explores themes around love, loss and friendship when a bear and a caterpillar become friends. Flyaway Katie and Bear & Butterfly are showing as part of the UK wide GetCreative Family Arts Festival. Hit the link to find out more about events happening around Greater Manchester and beyond…

Film Club happens at Z-Arts on Saturday 24th October with showings of The Princess & The Frog at 1:30pm and The Wiz at 3:30pm.

We’re Stuck is being presented as part of Manchester Science Festival 2015 on the Wednesday 28th and Friday 30th October. It’s your chance to get involved in shaping and developing this interactive new show which focuses on how great and how utterly rubbish our brains are at maths. It’s free and suitable for children aged 7-11 and their grown-ups.

The Possible Impossible House by Forced Entertainment at Z-Arts
The Possible Impossible House by Forced Entertainment
at Z-Arts

Now Forced Entertainment are one of my favourite theatre companies, at the forefront of contemporary theatre and I am thrilled that they are presenting a children’s show on Halloween. The ACTUAL All Hallows Eve – 31st October – at Z-Arts. It’s called The Possible Impossible House and it’s their first children’s show – suitable for ages 6 and up. You also get a free ticket to Z-Arts Halloween Party if you book for the show.

The Royal Exchange 

On Monday 12th October  at 1pm the Royal Exchange are host to Michael Rosen: Children’s Poetry Event. It’s part of the Manchester Literature Festival event and tickets are only £4. Michael Rosen is one of the well known figures in the children’s book world, publications include: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and This is Our House. Sadly, my children are in school on this day – however, the event may be of interest to my home ed friends.

The Chair The Royal Exchange
The Chair
The Royal Exchange

The Chair creeps into the Royal Exchange from the 14th October to the 18th October -recommended for ‘brave souls’ over the age of 7. With live music, songs and a cut-throat razor…book at your own peril.

The Edge Theatre & Arts Centre, Chorlton

A good selection of children’s theatre as always at The Edge. Rosie’s Magic Horse gallops in on the 17th October and is recommended for ages 3-8 years of age. Strictly Balti is suitable for older children over the age of 11, exploring ideas of identity on 23rd October. Next up we have the The Toothy Adventures of Davy Denture (for ages 3-7) on the 27th October and The Adventures of Pom ( for ages 0-4) on the 28th October.

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

And in case you can’t make those dates above…Waterside Arts gives us another chance to catch Rosie’s Magic Horse on the 11th October and Strictly Balti on the 21st October. 

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We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
–Waterside Arts Centre–

In addition to this, Little Angel Theatre presents family favourite, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt from the 17th October until the 20th October. With a super running time of 45 minutes, it’s just perfect for those little fidgets aged 2 and over.

The ‘Half Term Show’ at Waterside Arts is The Elves & The Shoemaker running from 29th October until the 1st November, recommended for those aged over 3. And for those little pickles aged 0-18 months there is 16 Singers on the 30th October – its a combination of music and signing woven into a sparkling little show for babies.

The Met in Bury

Gulliver -- The Big Telly Theatre Company --The Met, Bury--
Gulliver — The Big Telly Theatre Company
–The Met, Bury–

For ages 12 and up Gulliver sails into The Met in Bury on Tuesday 27th October. Followed by We Are Bronte on the 28th October, which is again suitable for ages 12+.

The Toothy Adventures of Davy Denture --The Met, Bury--
The Toothy Adventures of Davy Denture
–The Met, Bury–

For younger children aged 3-7, The Toothy Adventures Of Davy Denture visits Bury on Friday 30th October.

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Summertime Theatre – What’s on for Families in Manchester through August

Looking for things to do, plays to see and creative activities for the family over the summer?

Look no further – I’ve compiled a comprehensive and diverse list of the best plays, music and arty stuff happening for children through the wonderful month of August and as always many are FREE…

The Lowry

The King of Tiny Things
The King of Tiny Things

Recommended for those aged over 3, The King of Tiny Things is set on a magical midsummer’s night. Two sisters huddle together, fearful of what the darkness holds, when a mysterious winged creature appears and leads them on a moonlit adventure. Together they rescue juggling slugs, contortionist worms, and a trio of acrobatic baby bats. But while the girls are busy being brave they overlook their winged friend, the King of Tiny Things, who needs their help most of all. Can they save him in time…

Starring four of the world’s most exciting circus artists Metta Theatre bring Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward’s enchanting story spectacularly to life with circus, puppetry and song. Fun for all the family.

The King of Tiny Things somersaults into The Lowry in Salford on the 6th August 2015, with 2 showings at 2:00pm and 4:30pm.


Running alongside the main art exhibition at The Lowry, ExtraORDINARY -Everyday objects & actions in contemporary art, is ExtraORDINARY at The Lookout. The Lookout is a family activity space with different activities taking place throughout the summer on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 11:00am and 12:30pm. Activities include puppet making, junk modelling and paper patchwork and the best part about these activities are that they are completely FREE. Hurrah!

ExtraORDINARY at The Lookout in The Lowry runs through until 18th October 2015 and you can find activity listings here.


Waterside Arts Centre

Forensic Science in Action is back at Waterside Arts from 3rd August until 5th August 2015 so put on your white suit, gloves and mask, grab a scene kit and learn some of the essential skills needed – fingerprinting, DNA profiling and footwear marks – to be a forensic scientist.  It’s a one day workshop and it costs £20.00 per child – the Monday and the Tuesday are for for 7-11 year olds and the Wednesday is for older children aged 12-16 years.

For those aged 10 and up there are ComedySportz Summer Workshops happening on the 26th and 27th August from 11:00am until 4:00pm. The fun costs £40.00 for the full 2 days and kids will learn the basics of comedy improvisation, creating characters and scenes in a fun and friendly environment before showcasing their talents at 5.30pm on the 27th.

Artful Playground’s Musical Theatre course runs from Monday 24 – Friday 28 August from 10am – 4pm each day at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale. It’s suitable for children aged 7–16 and costs £80 per child. Children will have sessions in acting, singing, dance/ movement and have lots of fun putting together a production which will be a performed for friends and family. To book your place, call Artful Playground on 0161 438 2021.

In addition to this, Waterside Arts Centre are also having film screenings of Shaun the Sheep (2015) (U) and Cinderella (2015) (U) on 31st August 2015. Visit their website for times and prices.

The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre, Chorlton

A couple of summer dance courses are taking place at The Edge in Chorlton from 10th August until 14th August. Jungle Jumpers runs from 9:00am-10:00am and is suitable for ages 6-9 years old. Dance Explosion runs from 10:30am until 12 noon and caters for children aged from 9-12 years old. Sessions are led by resident professional dancer Genevieve Estevez-Baker and cost £25.00 per child for the week. For more information and to book, click here.

Z- Arts

Z-Arts in Hulme has a series of OneLoveDance Holiday Clubs available over the summer. The clubs run from 10:00am to 5:00pm (with an early drop off/ late pick up available at an extra cost) and themes these are Annie (10th – 14th August) and Frozen (17th – 21st August). The week is spent learning songs, dances and the script from the popular musicals. Throughout the week they are provided with professional singing, dance and drama tuition from highly experienced tutors. This includes activities that work on their confidence and team building skills. These holiday schools are really good value at £75 for the week – making them just £15 per day.

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Bolton Octagon

Bolton Octagon have a super Stage It Summer 2015 performance project running for 2 weeks from 17th August – 28th August (omitting weekends) from 10:00am to 4:00pm each day. The project is suitable for ages 11-18 year olds and gives young people the chance to work with professional theatre directors on a production to be performed in the Octagon main auditorium. The 2 week course costs £100 and culminates in 2 performances, taking place on Thursday 27th August and Friday 28th August at 7:30pm in the main house.

There are a couple of arts events taking place as part of the Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2015:

From 28th-31st August 2015 there are Fairy Tales on Foot, an interactive storytelling playground, with fairy tale adventures popping up where you’d least expect them across Bolton town centre. Meet Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Beauty and the Beast and many more. You’ll experience all of the best moments of these beloved stories portrayed by actors and musicians. There’ll be live music, singing and even some dancing.
This event is completely FREE and we love that.

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Katy_Ashworth_557ecb87c979eKaty Ashworth, a favourite from CBeebies is also performing in her live show as part of the Bolton Food and Drink Festival. The children’s television favourite will be performing in 2 live shows at 10:30am and 2:30pm from the Friday 28th- Sunday 30th August 2015. The shows are taking place at the Children’s Marquee, Le Mans Crescent and cost just £1.00.


The Manchester Opera House

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Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom LIVE skips into Manchester’s Opera House for the 1st and 2nd August 2015. Join Ben and Holly, and their friends on this exciting musical adventure packed full of games, songs and laughter on an enchanting journey through the Magical Kingdom. With actors, masks and colourful costumes.

And you can get your tickets here.


Open-air Productions in Trafford

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Our favourite open-air theatre makers Heartbreak Productions are back with their version of the popular David Walliams book, Mr Stink.

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On a perfectly average afternoon, two restless souls unite on a bench in an average English town – one of them the lonely 12 year old Chloe and the other an incredibly smelly homeless man. Oh, and let’s not forget his loyal dog, the Duchess. Watch the colourful characters from the celebrated novel by David Walliams come to life in Heartbreak Productions’ adaptation of Mr. Stink for the open air. This show takes place in Longford Park, Stretford at 5:00pm on 16th August and Dunham Massey, Altrincham at 6:30pm on the 21st August 2015.  For full listings and other venues click here. Tickets are £10.00 with under 5’s free of charge.

Imperial War Museum North

What a Performance runs at the Imperial War Museum in Trafford throughout August on the 5th, 24th, 25th and 27th with four performances on each date (11.15am, 12.15pm, 1.15pm, 2.15pm). 

Each session brings real experiences from wartime – you can hear stories from the Second World War, both at home and abroad, including the bravery of an undercover agent dropped into France and the hard work of a factory worker in Trafford Park. Suitable for all ages and is entirely FREE.

Black-Out! is another super free event recommended for ages 7 and over, taking place between 12pm and 3pm (just drop in!) on 20th August. Your children can take part in a treasure hunt exploring the new special exhibition Horrible Histories®: Blitzed Brits. A must for inquisitive young minds and I hear that there are a few prizes up for grabs too.

Blitzed Brits at the Imperial War Museum North
Blitzed Brits at the Imperial War Museum North

Storytelling sessions

There is also FREE daily storytelling sessions happening throughout the whole of August at 1:30pm. Discover the blitz through the eyes of 10 year old Dotty in Dotty’s Daring Blitz Adventure. Follow Dotty as she goes on a daring rescue mission and get your hands on with ARP artefacts and unique pieces of shrapnel collected by children over 70 years ago.

Intu Trafford Centre

Intu Trafford Centre is home to In the Night Garden LIVE until 22nd August. The popular CBeebies favourite takes place in its own all-weather, purpose-built inflatable showdome with many family-friendly facilities. This site-specific structure is a huge hit with children and parents and its immersive theatrical experience makes audiences feel they are actually entering the magical world of the TV show In the Night Garden.

My children are past being interested in In the Night Garden now but it’s sure to be a certain hit with many of the younger children. This show sold out very quickly down at the O2 in London so if you don’t want to disappoint your little one – I’d probably get your tickets while you can.

MediaCityUK

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CBBC is bringing the magic of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletics Championships to MediaCityUK in Salford on the 22nd and 23rd August from 10:00am to 5:00pm with the CBBC Summer Sportarama. This exciting event is FREE to attend and will give children the chance to take part in athletics events and other activities designed to give them a flavour of the championships taking place in Beijing. There are too many activities to list really – the opportunity to compete on a running track, football freestyling and a chance to have a go at being a presenter as well as hands on craft activities with CBBC Art Ninja Ricky Martin and a CBeebies sport area for the younger children too.


Have a creative, active and crafty summer everyone and tweet me with your events and adventures @upstagedMCR

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Flicker and the Flying Books soars at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival

Flicker and the Flying Books

THingstars: 

Although younger audiences are often the harshest critics, enjoyable and engaging children’s theatre does not need lavish sets, costumes or gimmicks. Flicker and the Flying Books, a new production presented by the Royal Exchange, with props made out of paper, had all of the young, curious theatre-goers joining in with the performers, following simple movements, laughing and clapping. All going to prove that interaction, music and familiarity are key when trying to put on a show for 3 – 8 year olds.

Flicker and the Flying Books is being presented by the Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company, a scheme for young people aged 14-21, together with the Elders’ Company, a practical drama and theatre making project for anyone over 60. This wonderfully imaginative theatrical caper is also produced in partnership with Manchester Children’s Book Festival, which runs until the 5th July 2015.

Everybody is very busy and Benji (Jake Mainwaring) is bored and the last thing that he wants to do is read a book, “ A book? Boring! Books are boring!”…That is until the marvellous Flicker (Judith Wood) starts throwing books from the shelves and  flicking through pages revealing a magical world that Benji never knew existed.

Directed by Andrew Barry, Flicker and the Flying Books has been developed by the whole company together with Matt Hassall and Josie Hepplewhite and features original music by talented Young Company member Abigayle Bartley. The soundscape is enriched by the companies voices, notably Matt Boylan, who collaboratively manage to create a bustling environment, an underwater paradise and a prehistoric dinosaur plain.

The simple but effective set design by Meriel Pym sees the ensemble make a dinosaur, Rapunzel’s golden hair and the Little Mermaid purely out of paper – it is all that the young audience need to trigger their vivid imaginations.

Flicker and the Flying Books is a refreshing, lively and positive new piece of theatre for a young audience; it is wonderful to see the Elders’ Company and the Young Company working together, listening and sharing each others ideas. Running at around 30 minutes, I would recommend Flicker and the Flying Books suitable for ages 3-6 years old. The production is completely free to watch but you must book in advance by calling the Royal Exchange box office on 0161 833 9833.

Flicker and the Flying Books is being performed on 4th July 2015 at 11:00am and 2:30pm at Manchester Central Library. Tickets are FREE but you must book in advance. Please call 0161 833 9833.      

Flicker and the Flying Books is also showing at New Vic Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent on 11th July 2015.

What’s On for Families in Manchester during May/ June half term?

For those of us who aren’t jetting off to sunnier climes during the Whitsun school holidays, there is an abundance of good stuff going on. I’ve helpfully compiled the best picks of theatre, film and creative activities for families happening in Manchester from 22nd May until 7th June 2015…

The Lowry

Remember Basil Brush? Well “Ha ha ha! Boom! Boom!” – he is coming back to The Lowry in Salford for a performance on 24th May 2015. Currently, he is super busy on his UK tour, a brand new specially written ‘live’ stage show, which promises to be packed with laughs, storytelling and song. He’s celebrating over 50 years in show business and he’s back With a boom in The Basil Brush Show. Suitable for ages 3 and up.

One Little Word also heads to The Lowry for 4 performances on 24th and 25th May 2015. A play from local M6 Theatre Company, who are internationally renowned for producing high quality, dynamic and relevant theatre for young audiences. One Little Word is a moving and beautiful story about friendship, power struggles and the rich world of creative play.


© steve ullathorne
© steve ullathorne

stick_man_500x400Stick Man Live on Stage heads to The Lowry from 26th May until 31st May 2015. It’s suitable for ages 3 and up and tells the charming tale of Stick Man, as he tries to escape playful dogs, nest building swans and even a fire, in a bid to get back to the family tree.


Also, at The Lowry on the 6th June 2015 is The Bounce. This is a multi-sensory and highly interactive show, using trampolines, video projection and live music, for young people from 3-19 who are defined as having Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities or who are on the Autism Spectrum.

This half term also brings the usual fun and frolics with Half Term Little Actors, who will be swimming in rivers and rolling through forests with The Hedgehog and her Hoglet and Half Term Little Artists who will be making their own characters inspired by Julia Donaldson’s book Stick Man. Sessions are suitable for ages 5-11 and run from 11:00-12:30 from 25 May until 29 May 2015 at The Lowry. Each session costs £3.50.

For ages 11-18 there is Wicked – Half Term Musical Theatre Madness running from 26 May 2015 from 10:30-15:30. Over the 3 days young people will work with a professional Musical Theatre director and performer to stage well known musical theatre hits and perform them at the end of the course for family and friends. No experience is necessary.


Waterside Arts Centre

Flyaway Katie zooms into the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale on the 28th and 29th May 2015. Based on the popular Children’s book by Polly Dunbar and with music by Tom Gray of Gomez – Flyaway Katie is an inspiring flight of fancy about the power of imagination.

Forensic Science in Action is back at Waterside Arts on the 30th May– the event is led by experienced forensic scientists and is suitable for children aged 7-11. Ticket price is £20 which admits 1 adult & 1 child to the session. (Every child MUST be accompanied by an adult).

Birds Nest Theatre presents My Friend Mole on the 31st May at Waterside Arts. This hour long show also includes a stay and play and is suitable for ages 3-6. 

In addition to this, Waterside Arts Centre are also having film screenings of Paddington and The Goonies on Wednesday the 27th May 2015. Visit their website for times and prices.

The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre, Chorlton

The Journey Home, the acclaimed children’s book by award winning author Frann Preston-Gannon, is brought to life through puppetry, lyrical music and transformative design in this new production by Little Angel Theatre.

The Journey Home is at The Edge on the 22nd May 2015 (11:00am/1:30pm) and Z-Arts in Hulme on the 23rd May 2015 (2:30pm/3:15pm) – with a running time of 45 minutes, it is perfect for ages 2 and over.

casa_06-150x150Casa comes to The Edge on 4th June 2015 with 2 showings at 11:00am and 1:30pm. It is advised for ages 1-5 years and tells the surreal story of a grown-up and a child who meet, get to know each other and start to build. Building turns into play, and little by little, while playing, they build a story. For more information click here.

Z- Arts

The Journey Home arrives at Z-Arts on the 23rd May 2015 (2:30pm/ 3:15pm). Please see listing above, The Edge for the trailer and more information…

Tarsa by Dorna Theatre is also showing at Z-Arts from 26th May until 28th May 2015. This play is suitable for ages 14 and up and features live music and dance. More information can be found here.

wired and aliveZ-Arts also have a number of events available for those families with a Bright Sparks Membership. Membership costs just £15 per year per family and gets you discount on some shows as well as free access to all of the regular activities at the centre.

For Bright Sparks members during this half term there is Wired, Wild & Alive Workshop, suitable for ages 6-10 and ZYP: Digital Tales for ages 11+.

Bolton Octagon

Bolton Octagon are offering two workshops during the half term break.

On 27th May 2015 there is Shake Up Your Shakespeare which is suitable for ages 11-18 and on 28th May 2015 there is The Magic of Masks, suitable for ages 8-11. Each of the workshops costs just £10 and runs from 10am until 4pm.

HOME

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And finally, HOME are throwing open their doors on Thursday 21st May for a jam-packed long weekend of free events, art, theatre, film and music. On Sunday 24th May it is family day – bring your own picnic for First Street’s first street party. There will be lots of free events for all of the family to enjoy, including a whale and an incredible book-eating boy.

For more information please click to check out the full HOMEwarming programme. It also has details of where HOME is and also advice on the easiest way to get there…

Eggs Collective Present 80’s favourite BIG on Sunday 24th May at 12:oo – Book your place for a special interactive screening, featuring fun and surprises from theatre group Eggs Collective.

home

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What’s on in Manchester this Easter for Families?

Here’s our listings of the best theatre and activities taking place during the Easter school holidays.

The Easter holidays run through from Good Friday, the 3rd April until Friday 17th April – for most schools. I say most schools because I don’t want to confuse any already frazzled parents, but some schools (including the one my children go to) only get one week off, so will miss out on some of the good stuff on this list.

The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre, Chorlton

Oxford Playhouse and untied Artists present the world premiere of this brand new family show The Boy Who Bit Picasso at The Edge in Chorlton.

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This show promises a lot of interaction as the audience are invited to take part in a variety of art and craft activities. Suitable for ages 4-8, there will be plenty of storytelling and music as the children are introduced to one of the twentieth century’s most influential artists, Pablo Picasso.

 

The story is inspired by Antony Penrose’s book which follows the story of Tony who becomes friends with Picasso – telling the true story of how Tony spent his childhood with one of the greatest artists ever to have lived.

We would definitely be attending this one if we could (see first para) – for you lucky ones with two weeks off school – this sounds like a good pick for the holidays.

The Boy Who Bit Picasso comes to The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre in Chorlton on Tuesday 14th April 2015 with 2 showings at 11am and 2pm.

TOP TIP: Be sure to wear play clothes because it could get messy

The Lowry

Room on the Broom has always been a big hit in our house and it’s coming to The Lowry this Easter. The story originally penned by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler has been adapted for stage by the wonderful team at Tall Stories.

Room on the Broom tells the story of a witch and her cat flying happily along on their broomstick until a stormy wind blows the witches hat, bow and wand down to the ground. Luckily, the witch meets some new friends who manage to locate all of her belongings. However, can the witches broomstick hold up to carrying her and her cat and a dog, a bird and a frog? I’m sure you know the rest of the story, I’m sure like me you have probably read and enjoyed it more times than you can count.

Suitable for ages 3+ and running at 55 minutes long, this musical production promises to be full of songs and giggles for all of the family.

Room on the Broom is at The Lowry Theatre from April 7th until April 12th 2015.

Waterside Arts Centre

A slightly different offering from the Waterside in Sale which may appeal to parents and older children alike. The centre is holding an Artful Playground Easter School, which runs for 4 days, from 7th until 10th April. It is suitable for children/teens aged 7-16 years and will be a musical theatre bonanza made up of singing, acting, dancing and most importantly FUN. There will be a final showcase on the Friday for family and friends.

The Artful Playground Easter school runs from 10am-4pm from Tuesday 7th April until Friday 10th April 2015 and costs £80 (with a £10 discount for Musical Theatre Class members).

In addition to this, Waterside Arts Centre are also having film screenings of How to Train Your Dragon II and The Boxtrolls on Tuesday the 14th April. Visit their website for times and prices.

Z- Arts

Where Caterpillars Go is showing at Z Arts over the Easter break. Suitable for under 5’s, the production follows an inquisitive caterpillar’s journey into a beautiful garden. This thoughtful show promises to explore life, growth and loss through live music, movement and fun.

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Inspired by the show there will be a free workshop from Tuesday 7th April – Friday 10th April where participants can create their own paper garden and lanterns as well as experiment with clay and printmaking.

Where Caterpillars Go is showing at Z-Arts on Thursday 9th April at 11:30 am and 2:30pm.

Oldham Coliseum

Charlie and Lola’s Extremely New Play is being welcomed to Oldham Coliseum on the 8th and 9th April.

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Ideal for ages 3+ and a running time of 1 hour 15 minutes, the show includes puppets, live action and music based on the books by Lauren Child and the much loved BBC TV show.

Charlie and Lola’s Extremely New Play is at Oldham Coliseum from Wednesday 8th April until Thursday 9th April, showing at 11:00am and 1:30pm. Tickets are £10.00. Click here to book.

The Palace Theatre, Manchester

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The Cat in The Hat joins us this Easter at The Palace Theatre in Manchester to cause mayhem and mischief. As soon as that red and white hat appears around the door, Sally and her brother know that they are in for a crazy adventure. But will their mum find out when she gets home?

Based on the wonderful novel by Dr Seuss, we reckon that this show would be a great introduction for young children aged 3+ to the theatre.

The Cat in The Hat is at Manchester’s Palace Theatre from Tuesday 7th April – Wednesday 8th April. Please check out the ATG ticket site for prices and times.

The Royal Exchange

For older children, aged 7-11, the Royal Exchange have their Revolting Rhymes Easter Drama Course. The acting, singing and crafting course runs for 3 days from April 13th – April 15th 2015. With a focus on Roald Dahl’s swizzfiggling stories, these sessions are proving to be very popular so we recommend you book early to avoid disappointment.

The Revolting Rhymes Easter Drama Course runs in The Studio at the Royal Exchange from April 13th until April 15th 2015 and costs £50.

Trafford Music Service

The service is offering an Easter music course suitable for KS1 children (aged between 5-8 I think) – its a 2 day course taking place on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th April. Children can attend one or both days and the courses take place at The Claremont Centre in Sale.

Children will be able to take part in singing, ukulele and violin sessions and percussion lessons and the course is suitable for those who can already play an instrument or complete beginners. The course costs £35 per day and runs from 9:00am until 3:30pm. All instruments are provided, all you need to do is provide a packed lunch.

There are only 30 places so if your child is interested I advise that you fill this online form and submit as soon as you can.

Silver Blades Ice Rink

This post would not be complete without a ‘FROZEN” mention now would it? Altrincham Ice Rink (as I nostalgically like to call it) are holding a Frozen Sing-a-long on Thursday 16th April 2015 between 5:30pm and 7:30pm. I think that the ice rink have won the battle of the Frozen Sing-alongs by pulling this one out of the bag!

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There will be figure skating demo’s including a Frozen Sing-along show – followed by an opportunity to meet and greet and a free skating session.

Ticket price is £7.00 and to find out more about this event and other events at Silver Blades Ice Rink over Easter please click here.

 

Upstaged manchester would like to wish you all a happy Easter. Please tweet your mini reviews of any of the shows or activities that you’ve taken part in to us @UpstagedMCR .

 

Half Term Delights or Half Term Frights?

It seems as if we have only just got back to normal after the Christmas holidays and already the February half term break is upon us.

The half term week runs through from Monday 16th February until Friday 20th February and don’t forget that it is Pancake Day on the Tuesday. I’m a traditional sugar and lemon girl, what pancake toppings do you like?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love spending time with the little treasures but I just find it easier and more enjoyable if I have already planned out what we are doing and where we are going.

Here are our picks of some of the best and varied, priced and free entertainment and activities for families in Manchester over the February half term holidays…

The Lowry

The Lowry offer Little Actors and Little Artists over the half term holidays. The activities run every day during half term from 11:00am until 12:30pm.

Little Actors have Frozen themed activities to bring Elsa, Anna and co to life in this fun and interactive drama workshop. Little Artists will be doing junk modelling around the theme of Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns. We have been to the Little Artists session before and both children really enjoyed – we made a Dorothy and a Toto. The sessions are recommended suitable for ages 5-11 and cost £3.50 per child (or £1.75 for Salford residents).

The Lowry also have I Believe in Unicorns and Singalong Frozen on in the theatres during February. Check out the website for more information.

Sale Waterside

Now, I should warn that there is a little bit of a Frozen theme to this post. Well, the children (and some of the parents…ahem) love it, so why not!

Following the same theme then, the Waterside are holding a Frozen Day on Thursday 19th February – there will be craft activities (running as part of the family club) and a singalong Frozen. The day starts at 10am and costs £5.00 to join in with the singalong version of the film. Pre-booking is advised and there will be prizes for the best Frozen themed costume. Check out Sale Waterside Family Club for more information.

Also running in the theatre is Goldilocks and The Three Bears, running at just 60 mins long and suitable for age 2 and over. Interested? For prices and times – click here.

Museum of Science and Industry

Steam, Sweat and Sewers runs daily from 14th February until 22nd February. Experience the sights, sounds and smells of Victorian Manchester. There are lots of gross but informative FREE workshops and  creative sessions. Open 10am until 5pm each day.

The activities are FREE (yipee) but make sure that you have a little bit of change on you (or well-briefed and behaved children) for the Victorian fairground rides.

Imperial War Museum

War at Sea – Jump aboard for the whole family to get creative and make something inspired by the IWM’s collections. See how far you can gaze with your very own telescope, as you design a message in a bottle. Discover which animals sailed the seas and learn some sailor slang in interactive storytelling sessions.

All of the activities at IWM are FREE but you are encouraged to make a donation.

Bury – Half Term at The Met

There are some great family shows on at The Met during half term.

Nicobobinus – suitable for children aged 6+. When Nicobobinus is magically turned to gold, he and his friend Rosie embark on a musical adventure to the Land of Dragons…

Duck in the Truck – suitable for 3-7’s. Join duck and his friends in this happy new adventure with puppetry, sing-a-long-songs and plenty of opportunities to join in along the way.

Puss in Boots – suitable for ages 4+. Patrick Lynch from Cbeebies brings this classic fairytale to life.

Salford Museum and Art Gallery

Don’t forget Chinese New Year next week…There are a few free events around the city to celebrate the year of The Ram.

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On February 18th Salford Museum and Art Gallery would like to celebrate with you by making a colourful, fire breathing, dancing dragon puppet. The event is FREE and runs on 18th February from 10:30am until 2:30pm.

Z-Arts

Popular family friendly arts venue, Z-Arts are showing Emergency Story Penguin during half term. Suitable for ages 5+ and a running time of 1 hour.

I didn’t get to see the last show by the same company, 59 minutes to Save Christmas, but reliable sources reported that it was a real cracker and not to be missed.

See the trailer For Emergency Story Penguin here:

Shows are on 18th – 22nd February at 11am, 2pm and 4pm. On Wednesday 18th February there will be a FREE Penguin Fun Day. All activities through the day will be free, however tickets for the show will still need to be paid for and booked in advance.

Enjoy your half term, stay arty, stay sane and don’t forget pancake day…