Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Debbie Cowley, Families Editor

Our top picks this month bring you most creative, exciting and imaginative family things to do across Manchester and the north.

October is an exciting month in our house, not only do we get the first half term of the year (be sure to check out our essential Half Term Guide), it’s also Halloween! We’ve covered the terrifyingly good Halloween in the City programme, a packed weekend of events across the city centre. Manchester has taken Halloween to the next level with an impressive line up, including a giant rooftop Monster Invasion, a city-wide Trick or Treat Trail, a spooktacular Skeleton Procession, and Room on the Broom storytelling.

If you fancy getting out of the city and enjoying some of the natural beauty that autumn brings, then we suggest the picturesque Quarry Bank Mill and Beningbrough Hall, both of which have lots of indoor and outdoor fun taking place this month.

We’re still loving all things space related, as we continue to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landings this year. Jodrell Bank have rolled out more exciting events for autumn, including the return of their popular Girls Night Out, with a Moon special this month.

There’s loads more going on so check out our top picks below and enjoy some quality family time together this autumn.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

Summer 2019 at Little Moreton Hall

With its beautifully charming and quirky style, Little Moreton Hall offers an iconic Tudor manor house, moat, manicured knot garden and plenty of fun activities for everyone.

Culture Guides


October sees the launch of Manchester’s newest cinema, some first class new releases and plenty of Halloween fun.

Peer to Peer at Open Eye Gallery & St. George's Hall, Liverpool


Sci-fi, football, China and Venice collide in our latest pick of exhibitions from across the north.

Author Jenn Ashworth, photo by Chris Thomond.


Autumn enjoys its usual bumper crop of book-related festivals – and as Manchester and Rochdale wind down, Chester Literature Festival is back for a 30th year to help get you through November.


Looking ahead to Manchester’s Autumn gig calendar, our new music guide ranges from contemporary singer-songwriters to pioneers of electronica.

Theatre in Manchester


You’ll find an eclectic fusion of dance, contemporary performance and top-notch new writing in our theatre guide this month.

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.

tours and activities

Tours and Activities

Find alternative nights out, decadent afternoons and fun new ways to explore the city in this month’s guide of things to do in Manchester.

Things to do right now

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A Healthy Profit Exhibition at Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire
Exhibitions 19 October 2019–19 April 2020, FREE

A Healthy Profit 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!

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

Summer 2019 at Little Moreton Hall

Activity 20 October 2018–31 December 2019, FREE

Documentary Challenge at IWM North

People sliding down the slopes at Chill Factore on an inflatable ring
Families 19 October–3 November 2019, from £7.00

Half Term at Chill Factore

Young girl turning a wheel at Quarry Bank
Families 19 October–1 November 2019, FREE

October half-term at Quarry Bank

Experience The Magic of Trees at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens
Families 5 March 2019–1 March 2020, Normal admission charges apply/free to National Trust members

Autumn at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens

the night sky as explored in the planetarium shows
Education 1 January–30 December 2019, from £2

Planetarium Shows at World Museum Liverpool

Daily Tours: Nature, power, conservation & cotton at Quarry Bank
Families 10 July–30 October 2019, Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)

Daily Tours: Nature, power, conservation & cotton at Quarry Bank