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.
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?
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.
Photo Credit: Kristy Stott
Photo Credit: Kristy Stott
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.
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.
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…
We’ve rounded up the best theatrical events happening for families across Manchester this October…
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 Boyis 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.
Now, who loves dinosaurs?
Dinosaur Zoois 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 TheLowry from the 30th October until the 1st November.Read our last review here…
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…
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.
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 Houseand 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 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 Artsgives us another chance to catch Rosie’s Magic Horse on the 11th October and Strictly Balti on the 21st October.
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 Shoemakerrunning 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 Singerson the 30th October – its a combination of music and signing woven into a sparkling little show for babies.
The Met in Bury
For ages 12 and up Gulliversails 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+.
February brings us Chinese New Year celebrations, Pancake Day and St Valentine’s Day…but it’s not all about dragons, roses and Jif Lemon. Here are my picks for the Manchester theatre scene throughout February…
Kate O’Donnell -Big Girl’s Blouse (Contact Manchester)
Contact Theatre Manchester have a whole bunch of good stuff to offer as part of Queer Contact 2015 celebrating LGBT arts and culture in Greater Manchester. The event runs from Thursday 5th February until Sunday 15th February, to coincide with LGBT History Month in the UK. For the full rundown please check out Contact Manchester here.
Using humour, music, and high kicks, Big Girl’s Blouse tells the story of a girl, Kate, who was born a boy and became a woman. Who knew what being transgender was in the 1970s? Not Kate’s family. The path to becoming a woman doesn’t always run smooth and with a lifetime of coming out, Kate has had to use every trick- theatrical and otherwise – to get by.
Created in collaboration with Olivier Award-winning director Mark Whitelaw.
There is a post show Q & A on 12th February with Dr Rachel Morris (Cosmopolitan).
Kate O’Donnell – Big Girl’s Blouse will be performed on the 11th and 12th February at 9pm. Tickets are £10 and £6 for concessions.
Laugh Local (Chorlton Irish Club) – Friday 7th February
Laugh Local is held on the first Friday of every month at Chorlton Irish Club. This Friday, Justin Moorhouse is joined by Jamie Sutherland, Holly Walsh and Iain Stirling. It’s a popular night in South Manchester, doors open at 6:30pm and tickets are £12.00 on the door (that’s if there are any left)! The comedy commences at 8pm and finishes up at around 11pm. All this comedy and a (free) pasty supper included in the price – what’s not to like?
The Mist in the Mirror (Oldham Colliseum)
Oldham Coliseum are proud to present the world premiere of The Mist in the Mirror. The original novel by Susan Hill has been adapted for stage by Ian Kershaw.
Hill is very well known for penning the original novel for chilling West End smash hit, The Woman in Black. This new production promises to be just as unsettling and atmospheric and is staged as if the audience are eavesdroppers to a fireside ghost story.
Visual theatre innovators, imitating the dog, will be on hand to scare you out of your wits. Their visual antics will create an unsettling feeling, on stage and off, that might just follow you home at the end of the night …
Runs from Friday 30 January to Saturday 21 February 2015 in Oldham then tours nationally
Check out this creepy trailer:
Enough of the scary stuff – isn’t February the month of amour…
Top Hat (The Opera House, Manchester)
And so we move on to a love story to set the pulse racing, Top Hat brings us all of the glitz and glamour from Hollywood’s golden age.
With tap dancing a plenty and celebrating all of that 1930’s song style and romance, Top Hat tells the tale of Broadway sensation, Jerry Travers who dances dances his way across Europe to win the heart of society girl Dale Tremont.
It’s won three Olivier awards for Best New Musical, Best Choreography and Best Costumes and it features Irving Berlin’s most popular toe tapping swoon tunes – Cheek to Cheek, Top Hat, White Tie & Tails, Let’s Face the Music & Dance and Puttin’ on the Ritz.
How can we resist!
Top Hat runs from the 10th February until the 21st February at Manchester’s Opera House.
Moving on to our beautiful Royal Exchange Theatre – there are a couple of shows I want to tell you about…
Scuttlers (The Royal Exchange)
Scuttlers tells the story of Manchester in 1885 as workers pour into Ancoats to power the Industrial Revolution – this is the worlds first industrial suburb, the air is thick with smoke and life is lived large and lived on the street. The young mill workers, the living cogs on its machines form the very first urban gangs. Inspired by the Manchester riots in 2011 and the stories of all of the Manchester gangs between the nineteenth century and today. This new play, written by Rona Munro, promises to give us an artistic commentary on youth gang culture and the cyclical nature of urban violence. And I believe, there are plenty of references to contemporary Manchester through the language, stage design and casting as we watch a nineteenth century Ancoats collide with twenty first century sensibility.
Running from the 5th February until the 7th March 2015.
Yen (The Royal Exchange)
Anna Jordan’s Yen won The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2013 and is receiving its world premiere in The Studio at The Royal Exchange.
The play explores a childhood of living without boundaries, where you are forced to grow up on your own. It tells the story of sixteen year old Hench and thirteen year old Bobbie, who live alone with their dog, Taliban, playing Playstation, watching porn; surviving. But when Jenny knocks on the door, the boys discover a world far beyond that which they know – full of love, possibility and danger…
Yen is running from the 18th February until the 7th March 2015.
And finally a trip up to The Lowry for some quality children’s theatre…
I Believe in Unicorns (The Lowry, Salford)
We are big fans of Michael Morpurgo in our house – of course, he is the author of The War Horse and we have a lot of his books. This story, adapted by Daniel Jamieson promises to be spellbinding and moving, telling the story of Tomas – who doesn’t like books or stories of any kind. He would rather be enjoying the great outdoors, clambering up a mountain or tobogganing with his father. That is until the Unicorn Lady comes to town and reels him in with her irresistable tales…
I Believe in Unicorns runs from 19th February until 22nd February 2015.
What a lovely treat for a half term theatre trip – you can catch the trailer here: