Interesting things to do in Manchester this week: UFOs at CUBE, more mulled wine than is strictly necessary, the Christmas Markets open, a new pop-up shop in the Northern Quarter, twisted maps and monkey magic in Oldham
Dancing on ice. If you haven’t yet made it down to the newly opened ice rink at Spinningfields, may we suggest you, ahem, get your skates on? Never mind the skating (although we admit there is some merit in watching your mates make a figure of eight with their backsides) – it’s the Mark Addy team that have made this our winter destination of choice. Their log cabin-style bar not only affords views of the rink but serves up a hearty menu, mulled wine and, best of all, mulled beer. Almost makes losing your front teeth in an icy fall worthwhile. Spinningfields Ice Rink, The Avenue, until 3 Jan. £7.50/£6.50 concessions. The Lodge, open daily (12pm-11pm) until 3 Jan.
Festive markets. While we’re on about mulled wine (and, seriously, after 1 November is there ever a reason not to go on about the stuff?), Manchester’s Christmas markets open this weekend. Purveyors of all things Christmassy, they have also developed something of a reputation for their German mulled wine, AKA gluhwein. This year the markets are bigger than ever, with well over 200 stalls stretching from Albert Square to the Triangle. A new French market brings its Gallic charms to King Street and, alongside the garlic, herbs and cosmetics, it serves up a new variation on the mulled wine theme: vin chaud. We’ll be covering the markets in a special feature next month but for now, santé! Manchester Christmas Markets, daily, until 21 December.
Unidentified flying objects. Simon Le Ruez, the Sheffield and Berlin-based sculptor, begins a prize-winning residency at CUBE this week with a new solo exhibition. Le Ruez’s work starts with the familiar – the buildings, streets and people that populate the city – but soon spirals into an unsettling mish-mash of drawing, video and photography. It seems that the artist is intent on playing with gallery visitors: he deliberately obscures the faces of the strangers he photographs, for example, in odd and slightly surreal ways. This is an exhibition that is worth a look, not least as it demonstrates CUBE’s quiet quest to stage challenging, thought-provoking shows that straddle art, architecture and design. Unidentified Friends, CUBE, 19 November-22 January 2011. Free.
Map reading. Manchester Modernist Society continues its efforts to bring order to a chaotic city via a new exhibition of artists’ maps. But if you’re thinking Ordinance Survey, you are way off the mark: in this show, part of the Chapel Street Open, artists have created a range of off-kilter maps. One depicts Manchester’s transport and communications infrastructure as an angiogram, another shows the frenetic blur of every airplane taking off from Heathrow during a 24-hour period, while another celebrates this year’s Un-convention music festival. All works are for sale. Latitude, Manchester Modernist Society, 142 Chapel Street, Salford, 20-28 November. Free.
Grotto: cashing in on Christmas. It’s heartening to see artists grabbing the Coalition cuts by the throat and choking the blighters to death. Or perhaps that’s just me. Anyway, Fraser Chapman has just launched Grotto, a new pop-up shop in the former Mooch Gallery on Oldham Street. Stocking a range of artists’ goodies (painting and sculpture through to wrapping paper and cards), it’s a shop where you can buy alternative festive gifts, all ‘lovingly made by Manchester artists’, as the Islington Mill people put it. Grotto, 88 Oldham Street, Northern Quarter, open Mon-Sat 12pm-8pm.
Monkey magic. Gallery Oldham celebrates the 45th Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition with a new exhibition made up of almost 100 snaps of the best entries from 2009. Think monkeys, insects and unfeasibly cute birds by some of the world’s leading nature photographers – picked from over 40,000 entries – and you won’t be far off the mark for this family-friendly display, on tour from the Natural History Museum. Gallery Oldham, 20 November – 9 January 2011, free.
Words: Susie Stubbs. Images (top to bottom): Robert Friel, Footprints, courtesy Gallery Oldham; Simon Le Ruez, Mariannenplatz, 2010, courtesy the artist; Grotto logo by Fraser Chapman; Simon Le Ruez, Mariannenplatz, 2010, courtesy the artist.