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


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


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.

Image credit: Maryna Makarenko, Sun-Eaters, 2022


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


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


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!

Writer Nicholas Royle. Photo by Zoe McLean


There are spooky stories, Christmas crime thrillers and plenty of books for stocking fillers as December unfolds and Manchester and the wider North region switches on the live literature lights.

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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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

Activity Until 1 December 2022, from £3.50

Knittaz with Attitude: Yarnbombing at Upside Down Coffee

Cinema Until 8 December 2022, from £7.95

Aftersun at HOME