Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Sarah Gaffney-Lang, Families Editor

As summer approaches and venues begin to welcome families IRL, we are excited to share some of the incredible things to do in June and beyond.

There’s a little bit of a literary theme as Greater Manchester launches its inaugural county-wide Festival of Libraries which includes a plethora of events – some of which are perfect for families, including the Sunday Funday event at Central Library. Here, your little ones can explore the impressive building and engage in a range of craft activities and a live workshop with bestselling children’s author and illustrator Kristina Stephenson.

Continuing with the reading thread, we are thrilled to share the news that the much anticipated The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the adventures of Mog the Forgetful Cat at Z-arts exhibition will reopen on 28 May following coronavirus-related closures over the last 18 months. The exhibit is a delightful way to introduce your children to the world of Judith Kerr’s books.

Do bedtime a little differently! Get cosy and snuggle up for a live-streamed, multi-sensory story session via the People’s History Museum’s Facebook page. It’s a perfect way for your tots to prepare for a long snooze (fingers crossed, eh!) at the end of the day.

If the weather improves, then the Totally Roarsome and Percy the Park Keeper walking trails are sure to inject some interest into your weekend walks although let’s face it, wellies and layers are quite likely essential.

For theatre fans, tickets are now on sale at Waterside Arts for Chantry Dance’s striking ballet adaptation of The Little Mermaid which takes to the stalls in September. Also at Waterside Arts – although outside – Heartbreak Productions’ adaptation of the children’s favourite Mr. Stink is simply unmissable particularly in such splendid surroundings.

If you are looking for a more substantial family day out, then be sure to check out the East Lancashire Railway as they welcome the return of the Flying Scotsman for one-off trips between 29 August and 5 September, and if festivals are your thing then 5 on the Farm in Barnsley, Yorkshire has you covered.

Since the shift to online, there continues to be a whole host of excellent offerings ranging from a monthly morning protest song session with songwriter Matt Hill (you can expect tunes from all the greats – including Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan) to crafts with Early Years Atelier at The Whitworth.

That’s all for now! Do check back for more events as we continue to update this guide regularly.

Here are our picks

  • 1. The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the adventures of Mog the Forgetful Cat

    The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the adventures of Mog the Forgetful Cat at Z-arts

    The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the adventures of Mog the Forgetful Cat at Z-arts, Manchester, Until 4 September 2021, from £8 - Book now

    Discover the magical world of Judith Kerr’s books and learn more about the life of their legendary author in this eagerly awaited exhibition.

  • 2. The Little Mermaid

    The Little Mermaid at Waterside Arts

    The Little Mermaid at Waterside Arts, Manchester, 30 September 2021, from £13 - Book now

    Head to Waterside Arts to experience Chantry Dance’s breathtakingly beautiful adaptation of  The Little Mermaid.

  • 3. Flying Scotsman at East Lancashire Railway

    Flying Scotsman Eats Lancashire Railway
    Nigel Valentine

    Flying Scotsman at East Lancashire Railway, 29 August–5 September 2021, from £12.4 - Book now

    Celebrate steam’s golden age with a family trip on the Flying Scotsman this summer! A trip on the world’s most iconic locomotive makes for an incredible day out and is sure to excite rail enthusiasts big and small.

  • 4. ComedySportz

    ComedySportz, Waterside Arts

    ComedySportz at Waterside Arts, Manchester, 11 September 2021, from £6 - Book now

    Head to Waterside Arts for a comedy show with a difference! Suitable for children aged 7 and up, ComedySportz combines football, tennis, and theatre in a performance packed with plenty of gags.

  • 5. 5 on the Farm Festival

    Channel 5

    5 on the Farm Festival at Cannon Hall Farm, 28–30 August 2021, from £24.95 - Book now

    This three-day extravaganza manages to combine all of the best kids activities into one festival featuring famous faces from the tellybox, access to furry farm animals, and opportunities to meet much-loved cartoon characters from Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol.

  • 6. The Jungle Book at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

    The Jungle Book at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre
    Image courtesy of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre.

    The Jungle Book at Grosvenor Park, Chester, Until 30 August 2021, from £28 - Book now

    A vivid new version of this charming story will swing into Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre this summer.

  • 7. Doodle Den: Playful Protests Online

    doodle den at people's history museum, young girl using thick marker pen to drawer on a glass panel

    Doodle Den: Playful Protests at People's History Museum at People’s History Museum in Manchester, City Centre and online, Until 31 December 2021, free entry

    Hunker down with blankets, cushions and whatever takes your fancy to create a Doodle Den and use the People’s History Museum’s online resources to creatively explore important topics including climate change, LGBT+ Pride and migrant rights.

  • 8. My First Protest Song with the People’s History Museum

    Babies listening to a man play the guitar as part of My First Protest Song
    People's History Museum

    My First Protest Song online, online, Until 7 August 2021, free entry - Visit now

    Round up the family and join singer-songwriter Matt Hill (Quiet Loner) for this online event full of toe-tapping tunes from times of change.

  • 9. Zog

    Zog Live onstage at The Lowry theatre
    Courtesy of Freckle Productions

    Zog at The Lowry, Manchester, 2–4 July 2021, from £16 - Book now

    Don’t miss the children’s classic Zog live at The Lowry! This new adaptation is jam-packed with lively songs from Joe Stilgie and is sure to have your little ones up in their seats, singing along while cheering the loveable Zog on.

More in Families

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank
Activity Until 31 December 2021, FREE

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank is a perfect way to keep children (and their adults) busy while learning from home.

Hidden Winter
Families Until 31 August 2021, FREE

Hidden Winter

Round the family up and head outside for this wonderful story walk adventure from Stand and Be Counted Theatre. Perfect for livening up a lockdown walk.

Exhibitions Until 31 August 2021,

Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security at the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester

TOP SECRET: the Science and Industry Museum digs into the history of British national security over the last 100 years.

The Merry Wives of Windsor at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre
Families Until 30 August 2021, from £30

The Merry Wives of Windsor at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

Enjoy this hilarious Shakespearean comedy in the wonderful open-air surroundings of Grosvenor Park.

Families Until 20 June 2021, FREE

University of Manchester Community Festival 2021

Free digital festival with interactive, behind-the-scenes access to world-changing discovery in the fields of arts, science, languages and medicine.

Geronimo Family Festival
Families 26–27 June 2021, from £15

CANCELLED: Geronimo Family Festival

Geronimo is a fun packed family festival combining stage performances, activities for children, and live music from the likes of Bez and Craig Charles – all in the stunning surrounds of Manchester’s Heaton Park.

The Global Playground
Childrens 2–18 July 2021, from £10.00

The Global Playground – part of Manchester International Festival 2021

Fusing dance, music, theatre and puppetry, this bright, family-friendly show explores the concept of play and how we connect with one another.

Manchester International Festival: The Walk
Families 4 July 2021, FREE

MIF21: The Walk

An epic and extraordinary travelling artwork will set off from the Turkish – Syrian border for Manchester this April. Adventurous and inventive, this is the first event to be announced for MIF21.

Mothers Who Make: July 2021
Activity 19 July 2021 10:30 am,

Mothers Who Make: July 2021

Mothers Who Make (MWM) is a peer support group and creative exchange session for mothers who are artists – professional and/or passionate – writers, painters, actors, dancers, filmmakers, photographers…every kind of maker welcome, and every kind of mother.

The sessions, which have gathered momentum over the past few years, aim to give creative mothers the chance to explore their practice in a room with their child. Professional connections have been formed and led to the beginning of joint projects between participants – so it’s a great way to meet and collaborate with other mothers from different creative backgrounds.
You are invited to join this inspiring and growing initiative. Please feel free to bring along your children, of any age, whether they are inside you, beside you or running around the room!
During and post Covid 19 the hub has, and will, be needed more than ever as we navigate our roles in this evolving world of change and uncertainty, but also possibility.

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