Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Gemma Gibb, Families Editor

This month we have rounded up some really unique creative adventures around the region.  The mega Robots exhibition continues at the Museum of Science and Industry with a special families day where you can interact and play further with some new robotic friends on 20 January.

We’re lucky to have two live classical music experiences for mini maestros at the RNCM and Stoller Hall, meanwhile Bear & The Butterfly at Waterside (for younger ones) and Airplay at The Lowry  are thrilling examples of physical-led theatre that will lead you to look at the joy in the world afresh.

We can’t be more excited for the extraordinary The Little Matchgirl (and other happier tales) directed by Emma Rice which has won rave reviews for being a tapestry of storytelling of the highest order.

Festivalgoers rejoice and book now for Just So Festival (one of our top picks for 2018) – its tremendous programme includes a “Playground of Illusions” and circus experiences of the highest order near its stunning lakeside beach. If you can’t wait that long for your festival fix no fear as the folk behind Cloudspotting Festival bring a brand new free one day family festival Snowmoon in the heart of the Ribble Valley.



Here are our picks

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Families 17 May 2017–3 May 2019,

Wonderlab at the Science and Media Museum

Explore a maze of mirrors and take part in Star Wars inspired sound battles in over 20 new state-of-the-art experiences in this new exhibition.

Families 25 November 2017–20 January 2018, from £10.00 to 30.00

The Rock ‘n’ Roll panto The Little Mermaid at The Everyman

The Everyman Rock ‘n’ Roll panto is the plaice to be this Christmas as The Little Mermaid swims into town.

Families 26 May–26 August 2018, from £19.50

Swallows and Amazons at Storyhouse and Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

Experience the stage revival of this tale of outdoor summer childhood adventures in the magnificently redeveloped art deco Storyhouse building or in Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre.

Families 20 January 2018, FREE

Pi: Our Robot Friends at the Museum of Science and Industry

Meet some of the University of Sheffield’s friendliest robots —play with cute companion MiRo bots, learn how to do some simple coding on a Pi-Top and have a go at programming a Nao, the tiny humanoid droid that can walk, talk and dance.

The Southing of The Sun, 1923, Annie Swynnerton, courtesy of Manchester Art Gallery
Exhibitions 1 March 2018, FREE

Feminist Takeover and Wonder Women 2018 Festival Launch at Manchester Art Gallery

Celebrate the launch of Wonder Women 2018 with a feminist takeover at Manchester Art Gallery, inspired by the radical Manchester-born artist and feminist campaigner, Annie Swynnerton (1844–1933).

Annual Banner Changeover 2018, courtesy of the People's History Museum
Education 20 January 2018–6 January 2019, FREE

Annual Banner Changeover 2018 at the People’s History Museum

Explore the story of democracy through a special display of banners that were integral to the women’s suffrage movement, as well as other campaigns for representation at the People’s History Museum.

Lost Voices Launch Event, Quarry Bank Mill, Wonder Women 2018
Education 3 March 2018, from £0.00 (Free event - admission charges apply)

Lost Voices Launch Event at Quarry Bank

A series of installations at Quarry Bank Mill recapture the lost voices of the many women who were still denied the vote following the Representation of the People Act in 1918.

International Women’s Day event – Lynx Theatre’s play ‘Sylvia’
Education 3 March 2018, from £Pay what you decide

Lynx Theatre: Sylvia at the Working Class Movement Library

A one-woman-performance at the Working Class Movement Library that captures the lesser known life of Sylvia Pankhurst the artist, through a rare collection of over 250 slides.

Generations of Activism, image courtesy of the People's History Museum, part of Wonder Women 2018
Exhibitions 23 March 2018, FREE

Generations of Activism at the People’s History Museum

Join with women of all ages and backgrounds for a day of conversation, creativity and banner making inspired by the objects and themes within the Feminist Webs Archive.

Culture Guides

Black Men Walking at the Royal Exchange


Vibrant and celebratory – you may be having a dry January but the Northern theatre scene is sure to satisfy your creative thirst.


Manchester’s top music venues have been busy filling their diaries for the year ahead – with early highlights include Iron and Wine, Jeff Tweedy, Mogwai and Joan as Police Woman, plus whole seasons by the likes of The Stoller Hall and the RNCM.


Featuring live scores, forgotten curiosities and cutting edge indie gems – we take a look at the best cinema coming to a screen near you.


2018 kicks off to an exciting start culture-wise, with a number of major anniversaries to be marked and must-see exhibitions in store.

Poet Jazmine Linklater.


There’s splendid spoken wordage a-go-go as we sashay forth into the first half of 2018: award-winning authors and emerging writers, book-buying opportunities, experimental and avantgarde wordage, and plenty of festival fun.

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