Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Gemma Gibb, Families Editor

The best music, theatre, dance and other creative shenanigans to do and book now.


Here are our picks

More in Families

The Bullzini Family perform Equilibrius courtesy Joe Clarke
Families 17–19 August 2018, from £20

Roll Up, Roll Up at Just So Festival

Celebrating 250 years since the first circus in the world was formed by local lad Philip Astley this new lakeside area celebrates the circus and seaside. Daring high wire walks, a Custard Catwalk and curious characters galore.

Childrens 28 April–12 May 2018, from £00.00

Leeds International Festival 2018

Leeds International Festival, the UK’s leading metropolitan festival of new ideas and innovation, is back for its second year, this time featuring more than 50 events and 40 speakers over 15 days.

Digital Natives, 34 Boar Lane, Leeds International Festival
Exhibitions 28 April–1 May 2018, FREE

Digital Natives at 34 Boar Lane, Leeds

Part of Leeds International Festival 2018, Digital Natives is a unique exploration into the way in which indigenous communities in north east Brazil have been using digital technology to fight prejudice, lobby for rights, increase cultural visibility and provide a means of creative expression.

Families 3 May 2018, from £10.00

Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday at Waterside

The enchanting world of Sarah and Duck is brought to life in a brand-new stage show, featuring the wonderful characters from the BAFTA award-winning CBeebies show.

Families 25–28 May 2018, from £30.00

Geronimo Festival at Arley Hall

With everything from Cbeebies superstars to  BMX stunt shows, Geronimo Festival 2018 at the stunning Arley Hall is a sure hit for the whole family.

The Good Life Experience
Families 14–16 September 2018, from £49

The Good Life Experience 2018 at Hawarden Estate

Exclusive 10% discount for Creative Tourist readers. Co-founded by Cerys Matthews, The Good Life Experience returns for its fifth outing, in the shadows of two castles on the Hawarden Estate in Flintshire. The festival features music from the likes of Gwenno, Bill Ryder-Jones and Norman Jay, as well as campfire cooking, spoken word, a 1930s fairground and dozens of activities for all ages.

Families 8–12 May 2018, from £20.50

The Jungle Book at Blackpool Grand

Head to the coast for a fresh and fun new Jungle Book for our times which celebrates diversity and the adventure of growing up.

Paint Your Wagon at Liverpool Everyman
Families 3 March–14 July 2018, from £10.00

Paint Your Wagon at Liverpool Everyman

Join Liverpool’s Everyman Company for their musical revival of Paint Your Wagon – it’ll be a sensational foot-tapping hoedown.

Lakes Ignite 2018, The Lake District National Park
Exhibitions 10 January–31 July 2018, FREE

Lakes Ignite 2018, The Lake District National Park

A giant, fluorescent pink and orange striped inflatable, a shoal of Ice Age fish, and a VR encounter with the depths of the earth; six contemporary artists explore the less commonly-observed wonders of the Lake District.

Culture Guides

Theatre in Manchester and The North Guide


The spring/ summer theatre season is in full swing, we’ve got the pick of the performative crop. Read it, pick it and book in.


It’s festival season at the cinemas of the North this month and we’ve got the low-down.

©Viviane Sassen, Ra, series Mud and Lotus 2017. Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa. Viviane Sassen: Hot Mirror at The Hepworth Wakefield


Featuring a giant ‘art hammock’, the mesmerising photographs of Vivian Sassen, and a unique exploration into the use of digital technology by indigenous communities in north east Brazil; check out or latest exhibition highlights from across the North West.

Luke Allan, Carcanet New Poetries.


It’s raining poetry and prose this April in the Rainy City, and there’s plenty to catch from both established and emerging writers. Fill your wellie boots – and your mornings, afternoons and evenings, weekdays and weekends.


From death-themed musicals to day-long explorations of the current freakscene, via rising country stars and a fresh look at an art gallery’s collection, the musical calendar for Manchester and the North is packed to the rafters.

Things to do right now

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