The Ballad of Rudy at the Royal Exchange: “Hey Reindeer, you got Groove.”

Polly Checkland Harding
Artic animals playing instruments

The animals of the Arctic have got the blues running through them in this jazz-inspired Christmas parable about a reindeer who stands out from the crowd…

It’s kind of amazing when you think about the number of different stories that get told at the Royal Exchange theatre. This Christmas, in the main theatre, there’s the darkly enchanting blend of fairy tales that is Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical Into the Woods – but for littler people (or the more faint of heart), the Studio is host to something equally musical, but a lot more groove than Grimm.

The performances are smart, funny, and – as one young punter says in the trailer – “cheeky”

The Ballad of Rudy, much like the story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, is all about being a bit of an outsider – except that this time it’s Rudy’s melodic talents that set him apart. Where in Happy Feet the penguins had a thing for dancing, here they’re the kings of jazz; on his adventure, Rudy meets polar bears who can croon the blues, a burrow of jamming puffins and beat-boxing arctic foxes to boot.

It’s all going on at the North Pole Jazz Lounge, where Rudy’s learns that standing out from the crowd can be a good thing – and where the audience is treated to a stunning set, clever costumes and puppetry, plus the magic of live music. The performances are smart, funny, and – as one young punter says in the trailer – “cheeky”. Don’t miss this zippy, original show created by Goblin children’s theatre company; we promise you’ll come out feeling Christmassey.

Culture Guides


Explore Hollywood history, queer rarities and squirm-inducing horror across the big screens of Manchester and the North this month.

Patron Mono by Carolina Caycedo, image depicts a figure standing in a room with a three channel video emitting a yellow light


From immersive playgrounds and mythological journeys to tackling injustice, this month is filled with fresh art to see all around the North.

Geronimo Festival 2022


Festivals, shows, museums, and much, much more – there’s plenty of summer fun to be had for families in Manchester and the North, whatever the weather. Here are our top picks.

Poet Caroline Bird


There’s plenty of sunshine-drenched reading to immerse yourself in from established names and emerging talent, poets and prose writers alike, both in real life as well as online.


From basement crawlers to stadium stars, there are some electric live acts heading our way this summer. Here are our top picks.

Theatre in Manchester


Eclectic theatre festivals, silly slapstick and dreamy outdoor shows, there’s lots of brilliant performances happening inside and outside over the summer.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

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

Baekdu Korean BBQ Restaurant

Food and Drink

Plan for July’s food and drink outings at some of the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

Get out in the sun this month with tours and activities that will have you engaging positively with the climate, taking the plunge in Salford Quays and getting creative.