Thing 1 and Thing 2 had a blast at Winter Wonderland Manchester yesterday evening, as did their parents. Now in its fourth year, this fantastic festive event, housed in the 22,000 sq ft of EventCity continues to attract people of all ages. With all of the fun of the fair under one massive roof – there is plenty of enjoyment for all of the family.
A red curtain peels back to reveal a massive winter playground, complete with falling snow – it’s like a Mancunian grotto packed with exhilarating rides, little Christmas market stalls, festive eateries and even a little bar for the grown-ups.
Aside from the thrill of fairground rides, there is much more to enjoy – a mini pantomime, a Christmas circus tent and even a beach. The main stage fizzes with live performances from Pip Ahoy, Basil Brush, Jedi warriors and Elsa and Anna from Frozen. We fully intended on watching the Jedi show but only realised that we had gone to the wrong stage when it was too late. We fully expected “Where’s Darth Vader?” and “When are the Jedi’s coming on?” Instead, the boys were gripped by a daring unicyclist and a funky young juggler in a Christmas themed circus bonanza.
The choice of rides was superb – whether you want to spin yourself dizzy on the waltzers, take a ride on one of the mini roller-coasters or parade your prowess on the mechanical bull – there are laughs for everyone.
A Winter Wonderland would not be complete without a visit to see Santa…and luckily he has taken time out from his busy schedule to visit all of the boys and girls in Manchester.
Voted ‘Best Family Day Out’in the Raring 2 Go Awards last year, Winter Wonderland Manchester runs until 1st January 2017. With all rides and shows included in one ticket price, it really is a fantastic festive treat.
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…
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 courseruns 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.
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 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.
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.
From 28th-31st August 2015 there areFairy 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.
Katy 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
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.
Our favourite open-air theatre makers Heartbreak Productions are back with their version of the popular David Walliams book, Mr Stink.
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.
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 LIVEuntil 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Charlie and Lola’s Extremely New Play is being welcomed to Oldham Coliseum on the 8th and 9th April.
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
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 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!
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 .