With summer in full bloom in Costa del Manchester and the North, we round up our top alfresco activities to do with the family, while signposting exciting indoor offerings from our newly reopened venues.
Dino Kingdom in Wythenshawe Park invites archaeologists big and small to meet 100 towering, roaring prehistoric beasts, including an 18 metre-long Tyrannosaurus Rex!
For theatre lovers, Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre in Chester has a spectacular summer season underway, with one family highlight being The Jungle Book. We also recommend Grimm Tales in the wonderfully eerie Williamson Park and the Summer Shakespeare Festival, running for three weeks in Manchester city centre at the Great Northern Amphitheatre.
REFRACT:21 is now underway, with Waterside in Sale coming alive with a hand-picked programme of performance, including a host of lively shows for little ones and their grown-ups. Think theatre with live animation, interactive clown performances and music to get you moving.
On the festival front, meanwhile, be sure to check out Cheshire’s spectacular Just So Festival which really is one-of-a-kind and promises to be even bigger and even better as it returns this August. And over in Yorkshire, 5 on the Farm in Barnsley is offering families a taste of rural life with hands-on activities and furry friends to meet.
For lovers of literature, why not encourage the kids to take part in Manchester Libraries’ free Summer Reading Challenge, running for six weeks through the summer holidays, and open to all four to eleven-year-olds. Presented in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the theme is Wild World Heroes, focusing on the environment and nature.
And there’s plenty more to discover below, including the much-anticipated The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the adventures of Mog the Forgetful Cat at Z-arts, Chantry Dance’s striking ballet adaptation of The Little Mermaid at Waterside Arts, and trips on East Lancashire Railway’s Flying Scotsman.
There also continues to be a whole host of excellent online activities for little ones, ranging from a monthly morning protest song session with songwriter Matt Hill (expect tunes by the likes of Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan) to crafts with Early Years Atelier at The Whitworth.
Here are our picks
Dino Kingdom, Until 15 August 2021, from £13 - Book now
Calling archaeologists big and small! Dino Kingdom is taking over Wythenshawe Park and promises a meander with a difference. Prepare to meet an incredible 100 towering, roaring prehistoric beasts with your little ones in this one-of-a-kind magical kingdom.
For three weeks this summer a brand new outdoor Summer Shakespeare Festival will descend on the Great Northern’s Amphitheatre, bringing a full programme of Shakespearean performances, family shows, interactive workshops and competitions to the beating heart of the city.
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.
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.
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.
Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank is a perfect way to keep children (and their adults) busy while learning from home.
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.
TOP SECRET: the Science and Industry Museum digs into the history of British national security over the last 100 years.
Enjoy this hilarious Shakespearean comedy in the wonderful open-air surroundings of Grosvenor Park.
Explore themes of identity and the migration, and partake in a series of family-friendly creative workshops.
Get hands on with heritage and learn some new skills with the summer bake off at the Manchester Jewish Museum.
Take part in a series of artist-led family-friendly workshops exploring themes of identity and migration at the People’s History Museum.
Celebrate the brilliance of 20th century design, fashion, vehicles and entertainment at this award-winning festival set around Morecambe’s famous art deco Midland Hotel.
British Textiles Biennial 2021 has an impressive list of headliners, including Maxine Peake, Lubaina Himid and fashion designer Patrick Grant.