Cultural Winter For All at MediaCity and Salford Quays

Part of our Families guide

Carmel Smickersgill, Tours & Activities Editor
Image courtesy of MediaCity and Salford Quays

Cultural Winter For All at MediaCity and Salford Quays, Manchester, 6 December 2021–1 March 2022, free entry - Visit now

2021 sees the arrival of the most ambitious cultural programme yet at MediaCity and Salford Quays. With a large amount of free public artworks, internationally acclaimed exhibitions and shows in the Lowry that are sure to get you into the festive spirit, it really is a cultural winter for all.

Having been a huge success in Kensington Gardens, Van Gogh Alive has made its way up North, bringing a unique immersive take on the Dutch painter’s masterpieces to the Quays. Using projection, music and impressive set design you’ll find yourself transported inside the paintings, giving you a fresh perspective on these much loved works. Alongside the temporary exhibitions at the Quays the Imperial War Museum North is welcoming Paul Cummings and Tom Piper’s cascade of blood red flowers Poppies: Wave and Weeping Window to its permanent residence. This simultaneously beautiful and delicate yet tragic sculpture was created during the commemorations for the centenary of the first world war.

For more thought provoking visual art, be sure to check out Ten Years to Save the World. This climate focused collection of works features leading artists from both the UK and Philippines, including Manix Abrera, Kajo Baldisimo, Jack Teagle and Clarice Tudor. They explore the planned ten years we have to save the planet through comic strips and illustrations. Joining the exhibition in its climate theme, is the ten metre high, water dwelling spectacle Floating Earth. Created by Luke Jerram and soundtracked by BAFTA winning composer Dan Jones, this giant globe uses high tech images from NASA to create a peaceful and contemplative view of our planet.

Floating earth is part of Lightwaves 2021, a 10 day festival of light based installations curated by Quays Culture. Between 5pm and 10pm until the 12 December you can see mermaids and mythical sea creatures inhabiting Manchester ship canal and a graceful water ballet of illuminated robot swans. Maybe you’ll also come across two playful electricians (who also happen to be moths) going about their daily routine, or have a play on the illumaphonium, a giant glowing musical instrument. The trail of illuminations is totally free and easy to access via tram, bus or car making it a great winter activity if you’re on a budget.

If you’ve worked up an appetite walking through Lightwaves, you can grab some excellent street food and boutique cocktails at Box on the Docks Winter Village. Explore the collection of tipis, sheds and greenhouses to find warming mulled treats alongside speciality eats from The Tasty Greek, Chapati Cafe and Beigel.

Every Saturday, until 19 December, the Quayside is being taken over by a Festive Makers Market. The best local bakers, producers and makers will be showcasing a seasonal pick of festive food, drink, arts, vintage and crafts. Making it the perfect place to pick up some totally one off gifts or treating yourself to some seasonal treats.

Sitting in the heart of Salford Quays, The Lowry theatre has a packed winter season that will have the whole family feeling festive. Enjoy a witty take on the original in Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker or lose yourself in the magical realm of Narnia with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. For younger audiences, Stick Man is a heart warming original production in which an adorable stick tries to find his way home to the family tree in time for Christmas.

We have only scratched the surface with our top picks of the Salford Quays winter happenings, however, you can find the whole programme of events, exhibitions, markets and shows in MediaCity’s Winter Guide brochure or by hitting the ‘book now’ button below.

Cultural Winter For All at MediaCity and Salford Quays, Manchester

6 December 2021–1 March 2022
Free entry