Event Radar: Things to do in December (clue: Christmas features quite heavily)

Susie Stubbs

Looking for things to do this month? December has got it all going on. We round up some of the most interesting street art, markets, ice-skating, illustration, pop-up shops and one-off gigs.

So much on, so little time: our monthly event radar is our heads up of some of the interesting-looking things we think are worth doing, seeing, eating, drinking or listening to. Dig in, get out and let us know how you get on.

Northern Souls

We like street art – and we particularly like the work of Stewy, an artist whose life-sized designs we have been Instagramming, like, forever. See his work for yourself in a short-run, pop-up exhibition at the Great Northern – on now on until 8 December. The Great Northern, 3-8 Dec, times vary, free

Altrincham Market

Markets may be ten a penny these days – but Altrincham Market (Alty Market to its friends) has upped its game of late. So much so, in fact, that it’s our number one tip for a local market goodness this side of Christmas. What makes it so? A combination of local produce (everything from local fish and fowl to chutney, cheese and beer), craft stalls, street food (hot cider punch, anyone?), live music (on Thursday nights), films and things to do with the kids. All in all, a refreshingly contemporary take on a market whose history stretches back to 1875. Check out Beatnik record shop while you’re there. Altrincham, Manchester, Thu 5 Dec, Sun 8 Dec, Thu 12 Dec, Sun 15 Dec, Thu 19 Dec, Sun 22 Dec (5pm-9pm on Thursdays, 10am-5pm Sundays)

An evening with The Special Relationship

Love live literature? Don’t miss this mash-up between London’s much-loved literary evening, The Special Relationship, and Manchester’s own Bad Language. The two literature events collide for a one-off night on 6 December; expect poets, authors, playwrights and bloggers doing their thing and, we’re told, “the seasonal short story antics” of Bad Language plus “films with darkly festive themes”. International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 6 Dec, 7pm, £5

Giving in to Gift

If your approach to Christmas is more Scrooge than Saint Nick, this event may be for you: it’s a one-off festival that’s all about social attitudes towards giving. Alongside live theatre, and free downloadable “audio performances” runs The Kindness of Strangers, a one-man performance where the protagonist recalls being given life-saving bone marrow by an anonymous stranger. It’s a timely reminder that Christmas is not all about getting shiny new stuff. The Bluecoat, 6-8 Dec, times vary, free

Ice Ice baby

Last year we were categorically told by a five year-old that there had been no Christmas because There Had Been No Snow. Ensure this Christmas is a white one by faking it, either at Spinningfields’ ice rink (Manchester) or Liverpool ONE’s open-air ice rink and ice festival. You’ll end up on your arse but it’s all good fun, right? Off you hobble. Liverpool & Manchester, both until 5 Jan, prices vary

Slow Club Christmas Show

Full band? Check. Seasonal covers? Check. Legendary music venue? Check. This is one gig that will get you in the mood: Sheffield’s folk duo, Slow Club, perform a festive set at Night & Day. It’ll be as cosy as a Christmas jumper – and as welcome, too. Night & Day Café, 6 Dec, 8pm, £10

Clock Tower Tours

Get a bird’s eye view of the heaving, sweating, slightly inebriated shopping masses by climbing up the 173 stone stairs to the top of Manchester’s Town Hall. The gloriously Gothic building looks down over the city’s massive Christmas markets – and you can too, with these limited guided tours. Manchester Town Hall, until 2 Jan, times vary, £9

Winter Arts Market

Manchester may have its massive Christmas markets, but Liverpool’s craft version takes some beating – if only for the venue: the opulent St. George’s Hall. Head here for an arts and craft fair that features almost 200 artists and designer-makers – for one weekend only. St. George’s Hall, 7 & 8 Dec, 10am-5pm, £2 (under 16s free)

Filmed up

There may be seasonal film fare aplenty at Cornerhouse, but we also like the look of Filmed Up, an evening screening of shorts and more from local filmmakers – with the programme selected by a panel of Cornerhouse audience members (including CT’s own Stevie Mackenzie-Smith). With everything made in the North West it gives whole new meaning to the phrase “locally sourced”. Runs every three months. Cornerhouse, 6 Dec, 6.30pm-8.30pm, £4.50/£3

Pop Up Art Shop at the Bluecoat

Liverpool’s Bluecoat has long been our top tip to escape the fray – and now, thanks to a Pop Up Art Shop, you’ve even more reason to swing by. Original and limited edition artwork by 40 artists, photographers and printmakers is on sale in the courtyard, with prices starting at £20. Check out design shop Nook & Cranny while you’re at it. Organised by dot-art. The Bluecoat, until 23 Dec, 11am-6pm daily, free

Castlefield Market

Yes, sorry, it’s another market. Blame Santa. This one is in the Upper Campfield Market, a Victorian hall off Deansgate and an extension of the rather lovely Castlefield Artisan Market. Expect fine food, vintage and craft, alongside cocktails and, apparently, a Victorian funfair. Upper Campfield Market, Liverpool Road, 10am-8pm daily, until 18 Dec, free

Stanley Chow, Damsels in Distress

Not heard of Stanley Chow? You should follow the Manchester based, internationally lauded illustrator on Instagram – his work gets more likes than Justin Bieber going head to head with a puppy dressed as Sherlock Holmes (probably). Step away from your smartphone, though, and see Chow’s work in person: his Damsels in Distress exhibition opens on 5 December. Kosmonaut, 5 Dec-8 Jan, free

Not just for Christmas

If you’re into your art, then Contemporary Art Society North is worthy of your time – it’s an organisation dedicated to getting more people switched on to the joys of new art. It’s also running a weekend-long selling exhibition in December, with work on sale from the likes of Emily Speed, Maurice Carlin and Leo Fitzmaurice. PS Mirabel, Mirabel Studios, 11am-5pm, 7 & 8 Dec, free

Gifs and Glitter

What do you get when you mix karaoke, GIFs, YouTube mash-ups, misremembered lyrics and DJ sets from the likes of Bantam Lions and Kepla? An art party called Gifs and Glitter run by the ever-energetic folks at Deep Hedonia, that’s what. Gifs and Glitter has been laid on to mark the opening of a new exhibition at the artist-run The Royal Standard. We’ve no idea what to expect but suspect it’ll be good. The Royal Standard, 6 Dec, 8pm, £3

Sham Bodie

“It’s like lots of different, really good nights rolled into one,” say the organisers of Sham Bodie, a night that features stand-up comedy, the Northern Quarter Boys’ Choir, Edinburgh Fringe favourites Katy Norris and Sinead Parker, live music, food and Father Christmas. We kid you not. The Castle Hotel, 13 Dec, 8pm, £10

Spotlight on

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This year's Father's Day is Sunday 16 June. Get out and about and spend some quality time with the old man in Manchester.

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