Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Debbie Cowley, Families Editor

Looking for inspiration for family things to do as we head into the latter end of summer? Look no further…

Last month we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar mission, which saw the first humans land on the moon. If it’s sparked your family’s interest in all things intergalactic then we’ve got some space themed fun for you. The Sun at the Science and Industry Museum explores our favourite star and brings us closer to it than most of us are likely to ever come.

To find out more about our solar system head to Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre for their daily Telescope Walking Tours of the iconic Lovell Telescope. At World Museum in Liverpool, take a journey through space and time in the fully immersive cinema experience of their Planetarium Shows.

If space isn’t your thing, then fear not. There’s plenty more to explore, from the amazing interactive exhibits of Digital Dimensions at Eureka, to the immersive world of Alice in Wonderland at the Atkinson.

Check out our free things to do in Manchester guides for more ideas.

Enjoy the rest of summer!

Here are our picks

More in Families

Activity 20 October 2018–31 December 2019, FREE

Documentary Challenge at IWM North

Make and feature in your own mini-documentary at IWM North.

A World Inside A Book courtesy Suzi Corker
Exhibitions 12 February–26 October 2019, from £6

A World Inside a Book: Gruffalo, Dragons and Other Creatures at Z-arts

The UK’s first immersive exhibition of the much-loved tales of Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler. Expect enchanting forests, miniature towns and watery worlds.

Families 3 March–2 November 2019, FREE

Dovetail, Biscuit, Splat at Nostell

From designing the highest quality furniture, to sourcing the latest fashions in wallpaper, textiles and fittings, Thomas Chippendale created a world of interiors for Nostell. Roll up your sleeves and discover the designer in you with creative family activities every school holiday

Exhibitions 16 March 2019–23 February 2020, FREE

A-Z of Salford’s Collections at Salford Museum and Art Gallery

Discover how Victorian gentlemen protected their moustaches from tea, which monarch’s pair of stockings reside in Salford, get up close to incredible art and more.

Exhibitions 23 March 2019–1 March 2020, FREE

In A League Of Their Own at Castleford Museum

Rugby League is born and bred in West Yorkshire. From its beginnings in Huddersfield in 1895 to the Super League superstars of today, celebrate over 120 years of blood, sweat and tears. This special exhibition takes a close look at the clubs within the Wakefield district, Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Rovers and Wakefield Trinity as well as further afield clubs in West Yorkshire. The exhibition includes fantastic rugby-related objects from kits, balls and trophies to programmes, tickets and fan equipment. Highlights include the rugby shirt of legendary 1880s Wakefield Trinity player Harper Oliver Hamshaw, the ball with which Castleford’s Arthur ‘Brus’ Atkinson broke the record for the longest penalty kick in 1929, and the iconic Slazenger Torpedo rugby ball from the 1960 Rugby League Challenge Cup final at Wembley, when Wakefield Trinity beat Hull 38-5! In partnership with the West Yorkshire Local Authority Museum Partnership (WYLAMP) as part of We Are West Yorkshire.

Exhibitions 6 April–29 September 2019, Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)

Rights of the Child at Quarry Bank

Discover how children’s rights have changed over time in a brand new exhibition at Quarry Bank, Rights of the Child.

Families 7 April–24 December 2019, FREE

Explore & Draw stations at The Hepworth Wakefield

The Explore and Draw stations are open daily and are free to use.

Look out for Explore & Draw stations in The Hepworth Wakefield’s galleries. Borrow looking tools, handling objects and drawing materials to explore the galleries and create artworks.

The gallery have up to three stations in the galleries for you to use and explore. Each station links to their temporary exhibitions or collection displays and contains activities, objects and books related to the artworks. Enjoy drawing in the galleries, look in new ways at the artworks, feel objects and materials connected to exhibitions, or sit and read together.

Families 13 April 2019–25 January 2020, FREE

Family Fun at Pontefract Museum

Lively activity sessions that everyone can take part in.

Families 1 May 2019–5 February 2020, FREE

Castle Crafts at Pontefract Castle

Get creative together and explore and learn about the history of Pontefract Castle through play or crafts. A different activity each month.

Culture Guides


Escape to the cinema this month. We round up the best new releases, special one-off screenings and retrospectives showing near you.

Christina Quarles at The Hepworth Wakefield


Like the 58th Venice Biennale which opened earlier this May, our latest pick of exhibitions across the north also has a strong ecological bent.

Guy Garvey


August is quiet, but the books are back in September with one-off reading events, some much-anticipated launches and the return of the Northern Lights Writers’ Conference as we gear up for Manchester Literature Festival in October.


Manchester’s Autumn months are always chock-a-block with great gigs, and this year is no exception.

Theatre in Manchester


We’re gearing up for the new theatre season – our guide this month features all the best performances happening now and over the next few weeks.

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

Discover the best food and drink that the North has to offer in our expert guide to food and drink in Manchester and beyond.

comedy character

Tours and Activities

Challenge yourself to try something different this summer with our guide of Manchester based Tours and Activities. You’re bound to find something new to do in the city.

Things to do right now

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Activity 20 July–12 September 2019,

Summer Holidays at Quarry Bank

Digital Dimensions at Eureka! Children playing in digital dimensions with light pillars
Exhibitions 25 May–5 November 2019, from £5.95

Digital Dimensions at Eureka!

Power Up at the Science and Industry Museum
Families 20 July–1 September 2019, from £7.00

Power UP at the Science and Industry Museum

Mill Trail: Become a Factory Inspector at Quarry Bank
Families 10 July–30 September 2019, Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)

Mill Trail: Become a Factory Inspector at Quarry Bank

Summer gardens at Quarry Bank
Families 9 July–30 September 2019, Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)

Summer Gardens at Quarry Bank

Little Moreton Hall
Activity 3 May–3 November 2019, FREE

Summer 2019 at Little Moreton Hall

Rocket courtesy Science Museum
Exhibitions 25 September 2018–8 September 2019, FREE

Rocket Returns to the Science and Industry Museum

Exhibitions 6 April–29 September 2019, Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)

Rights of the Child at Quarry Bank

Activity 20 October 2018–31 December 2019, FREE

Documentary Challenge at IWM North

a row of 4 historical tudor figures that you may encounter on this outdoor trail at speke hall
Families 20 July–1 September 2019, FREE

Trailblazing Tudors at Speke Hall