Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Creative Tourist

Because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, our usual recommendations for family things to do in Manchester and the North are a little different. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses that make the North of England a great place to live and visit.

We are so grateful to National Lottery players, The National Lottery, DCMS and Arts Council England for supporting our freelance writers during this crisis. This means that, although venues remain shut and campaigns cancelled, our writers can be reengaged to help arts organisations and artists across the North of England share their online content with our culture-hungry readers.

Be sure to check out our full guide to the best online events from organisations in Manchester and the North too.

Stay well folks.

Here are our picks

  • 1. The Sun at the Science and Industry Museum

    Science Museum Group

    The Sun at Science and Industry Museum, Castlefield, Until 29 November 2020, free entry - Visit now

    This blockbuster exhibition was due to close at the end of March, but has been extended until 29 November as part of the Science and Industry Museum’s reopening programme.

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

    My First Protest Song online with the People's History Museum
    People's History Museum

    My First Protest Song online, online, 8 October 2020, free entry - Find Out More

    My First Protest Song goes online. Round up the family and join Matt Hill for this live-streamed event full of toe-tapping tunes.

  • 3. Quarry Bank

    Quarry Bank Mill / National Trust

    Quarry Bank, Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 4LA - Visit now

    Head to Quarry Bank for a jam-packed day-out inspired by the great outdoors.

    Although the indoors places remain closed for now, the car park, gardens and woodland are now open. Do remember to book your visit in advance though as you’ll be turned away if you arrive without a booking.

    Happy adventuring.

  • 4. Swallows and Amazons For Ever! at Windermere Jetty Museum

    Swallows and Amazons For Ever! at Windermere Jetty Museum
    Image courtesy of Lakeland Arts.

    Swallows and Amazons For Ever! at Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories, Cumbria, Until 18 April 2021 - Book now

    Celebrate the spirit of adventure, learn more about the Cumbrian landscape and uncover the inspiration behind Arthur Ransome’s classic tale.

  • 5. Little Journeys into Creativity – Part of Journeys Festival International 2020

    Little Journeys into Creativity – Part of Journeys Festival International 2020

    Little Journeys into Creativity, online, 3–4 October 2020, free entry

    Get creative at home with an exciting activity for little ones exploring the themes of Hope and Celebration. Part of Journeys Festival International.

  • 6. Coliseum Creates with Oldham Coliseum

    Coliseum Creates with Oldham Coliseum
    Image courtesy of Oldham Coliseum.

    Coliseum Creates at Oldham Coliseum, Manchester and online, Until 31 December 2020, free entry - Visit now

    Creative and fun, get the family together for these activities from Oldham Coliseum and you could win four tickets to next year’s family show, The Jungle Book.

  • 7. Circus House: Circus Online

    Photo by Jamie Lowe

    Circus House: Circus Online, online, Until 30 September 2020, from £20 - Book now

    Roll up, roll up… Join the Circus House gang every Saturday morning from 10:30 for circus-themed activities you can enjoy in your own home.

  • 8. Yorkshire Sculpture Park

    Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, Yorkshire, WF4 4LG - Visit now

    Whatever the weather, head to the award-winning Yorkshire Sculpture Park to explore 500 acres of beautiful landscape and contemporary sculpture.

  • 9. Manchester Museum Online

    Manchester Museum Online
    Pexels Pixabay

    Online Museum at Manchester Museum, online, Until 30 September 2020, free entry - Visit now

    Join the curators of Manchester Museum online as they bring frogs, experiments and ancient civilisations to a screen near you.

  • 10. National Football Museum

    Image courtesy of National Football Museum

    National Football Museum, Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 3BG - Visit now

    The National Football Museum attracted 100,000 visitors in the first six weeks of opening. It continues to be hugely popular – expect football-related displays and exhibitions, a café and an extensive shop.

    One of the first attractions in Manchester to reopen,  The National Football Museum has been welcoming visitors from Thursday – Sunday since the end of July.

  • 11. A Christmas Carol at Storyhouse

    A Christmas Carol at Storyhouse
    Image courtesy of Peter Cook - Storyhouse.

    A Christmas Carol at Storyhouse, Chester, 7 November 2020–17 January 2021, from £23.00 - Book now

    You will go to a Christmas show this year…packed with song, laughter and festive joy, head to Chester for a cracking adaptation of Dickens’ timeless tale.

  • 12. Lightopia at Heaton Park

    Lightopia at Heaton Park
    Image courtesy of Heaton Park.

    Lightopia at Heaton Park, Manchester, 20 November 2020–3 January 2021, from £13.00 - Book now

    The award-winning and visually sensational lantern and light festival returns to illuminate Manchester this winter.

  • 13. Manchester Science Festival

    Silhouette of people standing in front of an exhibit at Manchester Science Festival 2018
    © Manchester Science Festival

    Manchester Science Festival at Science and Industry Museum, Castlefield, 12–21 February 2021, Tickets TBC - Find Out More

    Expect another action-packed programme of inspiring, entertaining and playful experiences for all ages as Manchester Science Festival returns.

  • 14. Dunham Massey

    Dunham Massey
    National Trust

    Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, WA14 4SJ - Visit now

    Whatever the weather, Dunham Massey in Altrincham takes our number one spot for a fun outdoorsy day out.

More in Families

Half term fun - Young girl sat next to the tiger as part of the The Tiger who came to tea and the adventures of mog the forgetful cat exhibition
Exhibitions Until 31 December 2020, from £8.00

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

In this immersive exhibition, children can let their imaginations go wild as they take centre stage alongside some of their favourite characters from beloved children’s author, Judith Kerr.

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank
Activity Until 30 September 2020, 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.

Love Letters to a Liveable Future with HOME
Activity Until 31 December 2020,

Love Letters to a Liveable Future with HOME

Part of Homemakers, this ongoing project offers the space to imagine how we would like our world to change once we emerge from lockdown.

Lost Online with HOME, Z-Arts and STUN
Families Until 31 December 2020, FREE

Lost Online with HOME, Z-Arts and STUN

One for our next generation of digital natives: an exciting new dance commission inspired by the dance challenges on TikTok and Instagram.

People's History Museum's Radicals Quiz
Families Until 30 September 2020, FREE

People’s History Museum’s Radicals Quiz

Find out which radical you are, and some of the ideas they fought for, in this fun and interactive quiz from the People’s History Museum.

Journeys Festival International 2020 – Online
Exhibitions Until 18 October 2020, FREE

Journeys Festival International 2020 – Online

This year’s Journeys Festival International takes place online, exploring the experiences of refugees from around the world through art, comedy, film, music, food, sci-fi adventure and politically charged conversation.

Little Journeys into Creativity – Part of Journeys Festival International 2020
Families 10–11 October 2020, FREE

Little Journeys into Creativity – Part of Journeys Festival International 2020

Learn how to make an Iranian-inspired photo collage exploring your family tree and symbols that mean something to you with artist Maliheh Zafarnezhad.

Little Journeys into Creativity – Part of Journeys Festival International 2020
Families 17–18 October 2020, FREE

Little Journeys into Creativity – Part of Journeys Festival International 2020

Get creative at home with an exciting activity for little ones exploring the themes of Hope and Celebration. Part of Journeys Festival International.

Culture Guides

Cinema in Manchester and the North

We look at the socially distant screenings and digital releases you can enjoy as cinemas begin to reopen safely.

Images of protest: Black Lives Matter at People's History Museum

Exhibitions

Art and women’s wrestling, Ancient Akkadian gravesites and invented artefacts – check out this month’s pick of exhibitions from across the north.

Poet Dean Atta. Photo by Hussina Raja.

Literature

Festival fever takes hold of Live Literature Land as it does every October, just this year it’s in the ether. Grab a glass and settle down in the Zoom room for some online readings.

Bicep

Music

Discover the best live-streamed concerts, broadcasts, musical activities and exhibitions on offer during lockdown Mk II.

Theatre in Manchester. Image courtesy of RashDash.

Theatre

We can’t wait to be back in the stalls again…until then our theatre guide brings the best of online theatre and interactive performance to enjoy at home.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

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

Higher Ground

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

For the August guide, we’ve dug out the best Food and Drink in Manchester and the North to explore now that lockdown has thankfully eased.

Isolation Broadcast

Online events

Discover the best things to do online from the organisations we love in Manchester and the North.

tours and activities

Tours and Activities

Socially distant walks and virtual tours are among the offerings in this month’s guide of Tours and Activities.