Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Sarah Gaffney-Lang, Families Editor

Despite you-know-what, there are, thankfully, plenty of family-friendly goings-on to keep the little ones entertained.

Winter is one of the best seasons to take in Tatton Park’s breathtaking beauty and their outdoor Scavenger Hunt activity guide is packed with exploratory activities to inject some purpose into your stroll or stomp across the sprawling parkland.

As we all hunker down during the latest lockdown, gathering cushions and blankets to create a Doodle Den sounds perfect and, using the People’s History Museum’s Doodle Den resources has the added benefit of helping your kids develop their understanding of important topics such as climate change, LGBT+ Pride and migrant rights. Other family-friendly crafting activities include Early Years Atelier with The Whitworth and The Fabric of Protest.

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.

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.

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. Mr Stink

    Mr Stink at Walkden Gardens

    Mr Stink at Walkden Gardens, Manchester, 13 June 2021, from £11 - Book now

    Round up the family for a trip to Walkden Gardens to watch Waterside Arts and Heartbreak Productions outdoor theatre adaptation of Mr Stink in stunning Sale parkland which is perfect for a summertime picnic.

  • 2. Drama Stars with Triple C

    Drama Stars with Triple C at Z-arts

    Drama Stars with Triple C, online, Until 29 March 2021, free entry - Visit now

    Drama Stars with Triple C is a series of online creative theatre workshops for kids with access requirements or additional needs. Aimed at beginners, children need no previous drama experience to take part.

  • 3. 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.

  • 4. Winter Scavenger Hunt

    Winter Scavenger Hunt at Tatton Park
    Tatton Park

    Winter Scavenger Hunt, online, Until 28 March 2021, free entry - Visit now

    Tatton Park’s Winter Scavenger Hunt activity guide is packed with exploratory activities to inject some purpose into your stroll or stomp across the sprawling parkland. Occupying over 1,000 acres of land in Cheshire, the Tatton estate could more properly be called a pleasure garden and winter is one of the most breathtaking seasons to explore the vast landscape. Grab your waterproofs and sensible shoes for a fun-filled family walk.

  • 5. Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank

    Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank
    Jody Hartley

    Science Learning at Home, online, Until 31 December 2021, free entry - Visit now

    Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank is a great way to explore some of the observatory’s themes online. The current #CaptureTheMoon series includes photography-based projects – with tips for achieving clear images using a camera or phone, along with art-based activities for younger children – which include making your own moon craters and packing bags with items fit for a trip to the moon! On top of all that, you can find an introduction to the best stargazing apps for budding astronomers big or small.

  • 6. 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.

  • 7. 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.

  • 8. POSTPONED: Paper Aeroplane

    Paper Aeroplane theatre production

    Paper Areoplane at Waterside Arts, Manchester, 3 April 2021, from £7 - Book now

    Prepare for flight with two new friends as they take to the skies, leaving the every-day behind in pursuit of faraway lands. Following the success of The Goose who Flew Lots of Odds’ latest theatre production sensitively explores themes of loss, bereavement and grief in a format that is entertaining, light and full of music, song and physicality.

  • 9. POSTPONED: 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.

  • 10. POSTPONED: 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.

  • 11. 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.

  • 12. 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.

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.

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.

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.

The Jungle Book at Oldham Coliseum
Families 7–24 April 2022, 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 2022.

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