Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Shekina Rose, Families Editor

Festivals, shows, museums, and much, much more – there’s plenty of summer fun to be had for families in Manchester and the North, whatever the weather. Here are our top picks of some of the best indoor and outdoor family-friendly events and activities happening soon.

Festival lovers – rejoice! Geronimo Festival at Arley Hall is back! The festival described as ‘Glastonbury for Kids’ will feature an incredible array of fun and interactive family activities and events, food stalls, music, and camping, on 27-29 August.

For budding young musical piglets, head to Peppa Pig: My First Concert at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, taking place on 30 July, for a fun introduction to orchestral music.

Roald Dahl fans and creative souls will not be disappointed at The BFG in Pictures, a new, free exhibition based at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum, opening from 23 July – 2 October.  This glorious, whizzpopping exhibition features a number of original Quentin Blake illustrations, first prepared by Quentin for Roald Dahl’s much loved and classic story The BFG.

For something a bit different, head to the thrilling Nickelodeon Experience at Heaton Park from 23-5 August, taking you on an immersive journey behind-the-scenes of your most-loved TV shows, including Paw Patrol, Henry Danger, Spongebob Square Pants and many more.

Looking forward to the summer months and into September, the festival we’ve all been waiting for is back, bigger and better than ever before. Are you ready for infinite fun that knows no limits? Science and space-loving families are invited to the Bluedot Festival 2022, which returns for its fifth year of awe-inspiring, inter-planetary fun and delight, on 21-24 July. Families who love the outdoors and digging in the sand can visit the Great Northern Sandpit, which is open throughout the entire summer, with 50 tonnes of soft sand, wooden logs, buckets and spades for digging and building amazing sandcastles.

Just So Festival returns this August with a weekend of wonderful treats and fun for the whole family. While in September our favourite nanny, Mrs Doubtfire, is taking to the stage at the Manchester Opera House, in a hilarious and touching musical comedy about family, love, and friendship.

Open all year round is the interactive Fairy Tale wonderland at  Z-Arts, in an innovative and enchanting exhibition that takes children aged 0-8 and their grownups to a magical world, jam-packed with storytelling and immersive play. And if its a rainy day – which could be quite likely during a British summer, there’s loads of great indoor museums to visit, including the Science and Industry Museum and the National Football Museum.


Here are our picks

More in Families

The Saturday Sessions at Company Chameleon Studios
Childrens Until 16 July 2022, from £3.00

The Saturday Sessions at Company Chameleon Studios

Calling budding young movers aged 4 – 16 years. Get the weekend off to a leaping start with these energetic and engaging dance sessions.

Activity Until 28 July 2022, from £12.50

Behind the Scenes Tour of Central Library

Get an access all areas view of Central Library in Manchester, with a brand new behind the scenes tour.

Romeo and Juliet at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre
Families Until 28 August 2022, from £28.00

Romeo and Juliet at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

Don’t miss one of the greatest love stories ever told when it comes to Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre this summer. Theatre and fresh air. Perfect.

Alfie's First Fight at Z-Arts
Families 10 July 2022 11:00 am, from £6.00

Alfie’s First Fight at Z-Arts

A show described as ‘Crime-Thriller meets Rocky’, Alfie’s First Fight at Z-Arts is for children aged 5+ and their grown ups, taking place on Sunday 10 July 2022. The production, at first glance, is about boxing, but at the core of this moving, heartwarming and hilarious performance is a powerful story of love, family, and loss, and the importance of fighting for what you want. 

Summer Fun in Gaskell's Garden
Families 20 July 2022 11:00 am, FREE

Summer Fun in Gaskell’s Garden

Elizabeth Gaskell once wrote: ‘Every Plant that Peeps up is a Treasure’, when talking about her garden in Manchester, and this Summer, families are invited to experience this treasure for themselves. Summer Fun in Gaskell’s Garden is launching on Wednesday 20 July, running until Sunday 4 September

Refract Festival 2022 at Waterside
Childrens 21–30 July 2022,

REFRACT Festival 2022 at Waterside

Now in its fifth year, Trafford’s flagship arts festival returns to Waterside for ten days of experiential performance and cultural delight.

Open Air Theatre in Manchester and the North
Childrens 22 July–29 August 2022, from £28.00

Stig of the Dump at Grosvenor Open Air Theatre

A revival of Grosvenor Park’s sell-out, critically acclaimed production of the classic tale of a boy’s friendship with a mysterious caveman.

The Gruffalo at The lowry
Families 30 July–21 August 2022, from £10.00

The Gruffalo at The Lowry

Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s well-loved picture book.

Activity 10–11 September 2022, FREE

We Invented The Weekend

Expect everything from community feasts, vintage markets, water sports, live music and performance, right across MediaCity and Salford Quays this September. A new free festival for everyone.

Culture Guides

Poet Caroline Bird


There’s plenty of sunshine-drenched reading to immerse yourself in from established names and emerging talent, poets and prose writers alike, both in real life as well as online.


From rising stars playing basement sets to open air shows by your favourite bands’ favourite bands, there are some gems in this month’s music picks.

Theatre in Manchester


Eclectic theatre festivals, silly slapstick and dreamy outdoor shows, there’s lots of brilliant performances happening inside and outside over the summer.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

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

Baekdu Korean BBQ Restaurant

Food and Drink

Plan for July’s food and drink outings at some of the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North.


Explore Hollywood history, queer rarities and squirm-inducing horror across the big screens of Manchester and the North this month.

The Tudors: Passion, Power and Politics


Let’s make the most of early summer, with this month’s selection of brand new art exhibitions from across the North!

Tours and Activities

Get out in the sun this month with tours and activities that will have you engaging positively with the climate, taking the plunge in Salford Quays and getting creative.

Things to do right now

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Fairy Tales at Z-Arts
Families Until 26 February 2023, from £3.00

Fairy Tales at Z-Arts

Great Northern Sandpit
Families Until 31 August 2022, FREE

The Great Northern Sandpit

The Saturday Sessions at Company Chameleon Studios
Childrens Until 16 July 2022, from £3.00

The Saturday Sessions at Company Chameleon Studios

Activity Until 28 July 2022, from £12.50

Behind the Scenes Tour of Central Library

Childrens Until 16 July 2022, FREE

Outdoor Art Club at The Whitworth

Electric Gamebox at the arndale
Childrens Until 22 October 2022, from £5.00

Electric Gamebox at The Arndale