Christmas Film: Merry 80s Christmas and Grimm Up North

Polly Checkland Harding

Two festive film seasons kick off this month – don’t miss 1980s classics, the best of Tim Burton and a flashback double bill.

Winter is the time to hibernate – it’s all about having an eye on warm, indoorsy events, or a cozy winter pub at the end of a bracing walk. So you’ve got to be sure that something will be worth venturing outside (which is why we’ve put all the best things happenings in December into a handy Advent Calendar, hint hint). It’s also why Christmas film is so appealing. Thankfully, there are some excellent opportunities for staying hot like popcorn over the coming month – here’s our pick of the best festive film.

First up is a screening of Elf at Central Library – and, as an added extra, a workshop for making “magic lenses” beforehand (6 Dec, 11.30am). This promises to be a novel way to watch a film that’s fast becoming a Christmas staple. Cornerhouse, meanwhile, has launched its Merry ’80s Christmas season. The Neverending Story left a lasting impression on my childhood memory – a muddled one featuring strange creatures and flying through the night sky. Time for an update or, for anyone new to the land of Fantasia, a treat (6 Dec, 4pm). Next, it’s a bump back to reality with Planes, Trains and Automobiles (7 & 16 Dec, 6.10pm). This Steve Martin caper sees a stressed marketing executive attempt to get home for Thanksgiving, comically thwarted and hopelessly accompanied by John Candy (of Cool Runnings fame), who plays a highly irritating salesman.

Not-strictly-festive ’80s cinematic classics & final knockings from Grimm Up North

Ghostbusters is back, too – another chance for either happy nostalgia or the first shot at a classic (11 Dec, 6.30pm; 15 Dec, 8.30pm). To fully understand why “yippee-ki-yay” is still a thing people say, rock up to the screening of Die Hard (12 & 22 Dec, 8pm) or, for some bizarre Bowie and wonderful filmic use of an Escher-style staircase, put Labyrinth in the diary (13 Dec, 1.10pm; 18 Dec, 8.30pm). Then there’s Willow: in between making Star Wars, George Lucas directed this fantasy battle between good and evil, starring a young Warwick Davis and a particularly expressive baby (14 Dec, 3.40pm).

To round off the season is Big Trouble in Little China, in which a tough-talking truck driver gets sucked into a supernatural underworld that features a 2,000 year-old magician, cracking one-liners and Kim Cattrall (20 Dec, 8.40pm). Bonkers at its best. And, although it’s not from the ’80s, we couldn’t miss out Cornerhouse’s screenings of It’s a Wonderful Life, the festive favourite where a man is shown what the world would be like if he’d never lived (13-23 Dec). Sob.

Finally, there’s Grimm Up North’s more traditionally Christmassy screenings. The Nightmare Before Christmas is back, kicking off a Tim Burton season at the Odeon Printworks (11 Dec, 7pm). This Halloween/Christmas smash is beautifully animated – more than just costume fodder. Last but not least, there’s another retro double bill at Gorilla featuring National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Jingle All the Way! (14 Dec, 3pm). So, pop your mitts on and grimace into the frost – it might be cold outside but we’re looking forward to a cinematic Christmas.

Culture Guides

Image credit: Maryna Makarenko, Sun-Eaters, 2022

Cinema

Classic pre-Code cinema, the Artist Film Weekender and the music of John Williams are amongst our highlights this month.

Exhibitions

Pause in the hustle and bustle of festive prep to take in some inspiration from this month’s top exhibitions.

The Ocean at the End of The Lane at the lowry

Families

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Manchester is bursting with fun, family activities to keep the kids entertained in the run up to Christmas!

Poet Helen Mort. Photo by Jan Bella

Literature

There’s live literature and book-buying opportunities a-plenty as November unfolds and Manchester – celebrating five years as a UNESCO city of Literature – and the wider North region welcomes some great writers, both in real life and online.

Music

The festive season is here, and whether you want to escape it or embrace it, we’ve got you covered.

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

Alongside radical sci-fi adaptations and free arts festivals, we take a look at some of the Christmas shows happening in the North.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Explore the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North for autumn.

Tours and Activities

We’re deep into Autumn now but don’t let that stop you from finding a new tour or activity to get stuck into.

Things to do right now

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Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at The Lowry
Dance Until 26 November 2022, from £17.00

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at The Lowry

Compass Festival 2022
Activity Until 27 November 2022, FREE

Compass Festival 2022

sunny bank mills
Activity Until 27 November 2022, from £2.00

Sunny Bank Mills Christmas Art & Makers Market

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £20

Pottery at Earth Pig Pottery and Fine Art in Buxton

Visual Arts Until 1 December 2022, from £20

Graffiti at Zap Graffiti

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £95

Blacksmithing at Forge Four

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £15

Embroidery with Sara Dennis at Lancaster Castle

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £59

Making silver stacker rings at The Old Granary

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £13

Candle making at Cheshire Workshops

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £60

Glass fusing at Glassmonkey Studio

Textile taxidermy
Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £80

Textile taxidermy with Jaki Bogg at Craven Arts Studios