Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Shekina Rose, Families Editor

As the autumn season arrives and live entertainment returns to Manchester and the North, there are so many activities to do with kids of all ages. Here’s our round-up of some of the best family activities and fun days out taking place across the region in the coming weeks.

Are you and your family interested in learning about Manchester’s fascinating medieval history? Chetham’s, Manchester’s oldest buildings, are celebrating their 600th anniversary with a two-day family-friendly festival, jam-packed with medieval-style activities, delicious food and drink, live music, dancing and entertainment.

For book-lovers and budding readers, prepare to be entertained and inspired at the Children’s Bookshow interactive workshop at HOME, presented by picture book author and illustrator Jo Empson. You can also head to The Lowry to see the stage adaptation of What the Ladybird Heard, which will leave you in stitches!

Get creative and build new, colourful worlds with your pre-schooler. Come along to the interactive Little Play Squad Sessions at Legoland Discovery Centre, designed for parents and their little ones.

Everyone’s favourite blue steam train is on his way to Lancashire for a visit! Thomas the Tank Engine and the Fat Controller are coming all the way from the magical island of Sodor to see you and your family for a special day out in October.

Here’s one for the football fanatics and a rainy weekend in Manchester. Prepare for a day of football discovery, penalty shoot-outs, interactive play and much, much more, with family activities at the National Football Museum. 


Here are our picks

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.

Counter-flow exhibition & 'Identity Feet' family-friendly creative workshops at People's History Museum
Activity Until 10 October 2021,

Counter-flow exhibition & ‘Identity Feet’ family-friendly creative workshops at People’s History Museum

Explore themes of identity and migration, and partake in a series of family-friendly creative workshops taking place throughout this summer.

British Textile Biennial 2021 – across Pennine Lancashire
Exhibitions 1–31 October 2021, FREE

British Textile Biennial 2021 – across Pennine Lancashire

British Textiles Biennial 2021 has an impressive list of headliners, including Maxine Peake, Lubaina Himid and fashion designer Patrick Grant.

Professor Brian Cox - Horizons
Education 13 October 2021 7:30 pm, from £43.25

Professor Brian Cox: Horizons

Using state of the art LED screen technology, Horizons will fill the M&S Bank Arena with images of far-away galaxies, alien worlds, supermassive black holes and a time before the Big Bang.
Horizons is a celebration of our civilisation, of our music, art, philosophy and science; an optimistic vision of our future if we continue to explore Nature with humility and to value ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Exhibitions 15–30 October 2021, FREE

Lightpool Festival

Taking place during Blackpool’s annual Illuminations display, Lightpool is a celebration of spectacular art works and live, illuminated performance across the iconic town.

Winter Droving Penrith
Families 28–30 October 2021, FREE

The Winter Droving in Penrith

An incredible wonderland of outdoor arts, masquerade and pint carrying competitions in Penrith.

light up lancaster
Exhibitions 5–6 November 2021, FREE

Light Up Lancaster

Festival of light and art Light Up Lancaster returns to the city with installations, projections, performance and fireworks illuminating the city’s historic buildings, charming streets and hidden squares.

Families 12 November–23 December 2021, from £5

The Lanterns at Chester Zoo

Adventure around nine new magical, illuminated worlds after dark including an Ice Kingdom and meet Father Christmas.

lumiere festival
Families 18–21 November 2021, FREE

Lumiere Festival

For the past 11 years, Lumiere Festival has been lighting up Durham’s public spaces with mesmerising installations and interactive light-based artworks.

Culture Guides

Cinema in Manchester and the North

Black History Month, spooky screenings and the return of film festivals all feature in this month’s cinema guide.

Deborah Roberts: A Look Inside at the Bluecoat, Liverpool


Race, beauty, education and early childhood memories are all explored in this month’s top pick of exhibitions from across the north.

Northern Lights Writers' Conference 2021


Events for readers meet events for writers, with plenty of book launches, open mics, literature festivals, writing conferences and poetry showcases to pop into your diary for the remainder of September pushing into October, both online and in person.

Baxter Dury


We’re now well into gig season and it’s proving to be a special one, with artists and audiences giving it their all. From atmospheric electronica to taut post-punk, there’s a whole lot to dig into in our new music guide.

Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre: Season of Dance


Dark comedies, dance world premieres and celebratory reopening seasons feature in this month’s eclectic pick of live theatre happening across the North.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

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

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

A guide to Food and Drink in Manchester and the North, including plenty of new bars and restaurants and exciting new menus from old favourites.

Tours and Activities

Summer is here and we’re so excited to be out in the world touring, making, playing and doing all the things Manchester and the North has to offer.