Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Sarah Gaffney-Lang, Families Editor

As we all come to terms with life in lockdown 3.0, we are pleased to say that despite the heavy restrictions, there are, thankfully, plenty of family-friendly goings-on – particularly online.

Round up the family for a live-streamed morning sing-song with songwriter Matt Hill (Quiet Loner) who will soon have your babies and toddlers fully initiated in the art of protest song – expect classic tunes from the likes of Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.

Calling budding writers big and small! Join Seven Stories on their creative writing workshop: It’s A Wonderful (Magical) World where your kids will become budding writers for the morning and learn about magical world-building and how to turn out-of-this-world ideas into pen-on-paper stories.

Do bedtime a little differently! Get cosy and snuggle up for a livestreamed, 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 snooze at the end of the day.

For rail enthusiasts big and small, celebrate steam’s golden age with a trip on the Flying Scotsman this Easter. Locomotive No. 60103 is the stuff of legends! Not least because, incredibly, it was the world’s first steam train to officially travel at 100 miles per hour, subsequently securing its pivotal place in rail history.

Away from the screens, some theatres do now have dates for shows taking place in real life including the fabulous family favourite (and Julia Donaldson classic) Zog. What’s more, Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever showing in spring could prove to be one of your family’s best outings of the New Year.

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.

In light of the ongoing upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we are updating these pages regularly as things change so do check back for new family friendly activities. In the meantime, be sure to check out our full guide to the best online events from organisations in Manchester and the North too.

Here are our picks

  • 1. My First Protest Song online 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 1 April 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.

  • 2. Online bedtime story with the People’s History Museum

    Bedtime story PHM
    People's History Museum

    Bedtime story - online, online, 18 March 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    Snuggle up and get cosy to enjoy a livestreamed, multi-sensory story session via the People’s History Museum’s Facebook page. It’s the perfect way for your little ones to prepare for a long snooze.

  • 3. Creative Writing Workshop: It’s a Wonderful (Magical) World

    Child attends Creative Writing Workshop with Seven Stories
    Rich Kenworthy

    Creative Writing Workshop: It's a Wonderful (Magical) World at Seven Stories, Newcastle and online, 13 February 2021, from £10 - Book now

    There’s no place like home? Boring! Join Seven Stories (The National Centre for Children’s Books) on their Creative Writing Workshop: It’s a magical (wonderful) world for a journey into literary discovery. Your tots will become budding writers for the morning and learn about world-building, harness their creativity, and turn out-of-this-world ideas into pen-on-paper stories.

  • 4. Early Years Atelier with The Whitworth

    Early Years Atelier with The Whitworth
    Image courtesy of The Whitworth.

    Early years Atelier, online, 8 February 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    Specially designed for the under 5s and their grown-ups, The Whitworth have taken their early years sessions online.

  • 5. Horrible Histories Live On Stage! – The Best Of Barmy Britain

    Horrible Histories Presents The Best of Barmy Britain
    Courtesy of Horrible Histories

    Horrible Histories Live On Stage! – The Best Of Barmy Britain at Stockport Plaza Cinema, Stockport, 27 February 2021, from £14.85 - Book now

    Horrible Histories Live On Stage! – The Best Of Barmy Britain is back in theatres. The show is jam-packed with real facts, gutsy action and trademark slapstick! Entertain your little ones for the afternoon and enjoy history at its unfiltered best.

  • 6. Flying Scotsman at East Lancashire Railway

    Flying Scotsman Eats Lancashire Railway
    Nigel Valentine

    Flying Scotsman at East Lancashire Railway, 2–4 April 2021, from £12.4 - Book now

    Celebrate steam’s golden age with your little ones! The Flying Scotsman returns to East Lancashire Railway this Easter, and you and your family have the chance to soak up breath-taking views on this famous icon of rail history.

  • 7. Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever

    Peppa Pig's Best Day Ever at The Lowry
    Courtesy of Peppa Pig Live

    Peppa Pig's Best Day Ever at Liverpool Empire Theatre, City Centre, 28–29 April 2021, from £18.15 - Book now

    It’s Peppa’s Best Day Ever! Join Peppa Pig and all her friends as they embark on an epic, fun-filled adventure. With all the familiar faces and plenty of chuckles and trademark snorts, your little ones will be captivated.

  • 8. 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.

  • 9. Manchester Museum

    Manchester Museum Tours at Manchester Museum

    Manchester Museum, The University Of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 9PL - Visit now

    Round up the family and explore Manchester Museum’s collection from your home.  Head over to their new site for entertainment and education until they reopen.

  • 10. Manchester Science Festival 2021

    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 and online, 12–21 February 2021 - Find Out More

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

More in Families

Swallows and Amazons For Ever! at Windermere Jetty Museum
Exhibitions Until 18 April 2021,

Swallows and Amazons For Ever! at Windermere Jetty Museum

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

Families 30 January 2021 11:00 am, from £10

Creative Writing Workshop: Space Odyssey

Join Lauren and Stephanie from the Children’s Literature unit at Newcastle University, as they launch into space in search of your creative writing skills.

The Jungle Book at Oldham Coliseum
Families 1–17 April 2021, from £7.00

The Jungle Book at Oldham Coliseum

Previously postponed due to Covid-19, we’re pleased that The Jungle Book is set to run at Oldham Coliseum in April 2021.

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.

The Not So Ugly Sisters. Image from Wrongsemble's previous show The Princess and the Sprout.
Families 24 November 2021–1 January 2022, from £12.00

The Not So Ugly Sisters at Waterside

The Yorkshire based theatre-company Wrongsemble bring this wonderful new take on the well-loved classic to audiences for Christmas 2021.

Culture Guides

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Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

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Lockdown 3.0 may be wearing thin but there is light at the end of the tunnel, with many galleries and museums hoping to reopen in March.

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Lockdown may be looming large, but Live Literature Land has you covered: from book launches and literary salons to online open mics and full-on festivals, activities and events continue virtually.

Music

With physical gigs still *sigh* off the cards, livestreamed events continue to help us connect with our favourite artists and venues, while supporting the industry around them.

Theatre in Manchester

Theatre

Our guide to theatre in Manchester and the North features stand-out online performance and all the best streamed theatre events to enjoy at home.

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Isolation Broadcast

Online events

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

Tours and Activities

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Things to do right now

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Empty with HOME
Theatre Until 31 January 2021, Pay-What-You-Decide

Empty with HOME

Swimming Home
Theatre Until 20 February 2021, from £5.00

Swimming Home – online

Activity Until 12 February 2021, FREE

Writer’s Bloc: Patrice Lawrence

Music Until 30 January 2021, FREE

Scruff of the Neck TV