Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Gemma Gibb, Families Editor

February is full of possibility.  Here’s our trusty guide to the best family things to do indoors and outdoors this month and beyond. For more ideas see our extensive half-term guide.

New adventures to be had start with being the first to feast your eyes on Big Up! This brand new production from Theatre-Rites and 20 Stories High is set to raise the bar in what theatre for kids can achieve.

We’ll be heading to Leeds to check out the Mer-folk (yes really) at the boundary-breaking Human Aquarium installation.

We also can’t get enough of returning to the gloriously restored and reinterpreted Quarry Bank, not least for new adventure story trail by author Philip Ardagh.

In the museum and gallery world head to the Science and Industry Museum, Police Museum and Manchester Museum for more new shenanigans than you can shake a stick at.

For those keen to book ahead, spend your pennies on outdoor spectacle Zara at The Piece Hall, and our favourite family festival Just So which has released details of new areas to adventure through this year and its final tier of tickets already. Yikes!


Here are our picks

More in Families

Families 17 May 2017–3 May 2019,

Wonderlab at the Science and Media Museum

Explore a maze of mirrors and take part in Star Wars inspired sound battles in over 20 new state-of-the-art experiences in this new exhibition.

Rocket courtesy Science Museum
Exhibitions 25 September 2018–28 April 2019, FREE

Rocket Returns to the Science and Industry Museum

Make tracks for Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum. A one-in-a-lifetime chance to see Stephenson’s Rocket return to the site of the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway for the first time in over 180 years.

Exhibitions 18 October 2018–28 April 2019, FREE

Electricity: The Spark of Life at the Science and Industry Museum

One of the headline events from last year’s Manchester Science Festival, this super-charged exhibition tells the story of our quest to understand, unlock and master the power of electricity.

Exhibitions 19 October 2018–3 March 2019, FREE

Quentin Blake and John Yeoman: 50 Years of Children’s Books at Lady Lever Art Gallery

Bookworms rejoice! The first exhibition to celebrate illustrator Quentin Blake’s decades-long partnership with author and childhood friend John Yeoman promises literary larks and crazy characters for all.

Activity 20 October 2018–31 December 2019, FREE

Documentary Challenge at IWM North

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

Families 5 December 2018–1 June 2019, from £5.25

Patternarium at Eureka!

Generate shapes, patterns and artworks. Bring to live in vivid colour the hidden patterns that surround us in this new digital and mechanical experience by Halifax artists IOU.

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 16–24 February 2019, FREE

Family half term activities at The Whitworth

Express your creative streak at The Whitworth this half term.

Families 19–20 February 2019, from £3

The Blanket Tales at The Piece Hall

Join in on a storytelling tour of The Piece Hall, learn about the textile trade and experience The Piece Hall’s magic blanket.

Culture Guides

Theatre in Manchester and the North


A Salford leisure centre, a city centre library and a Manchester museum – theatre can happen anywhere. Here’s our guide to the best performances popping up across Manchester and the North.


Valentine’s ideas, hard-to-see queer cinema and the best in new releases — we’ve got it covered.

Kimsooja, To Breathe. Photo © Jaeho Chong


Inspired by the meditative qualities of space and eastern notions of the Void, Kimsooja’s mesmerising installation at YSP’s historic chapel heads our top pick of exhibitions this month.

Writer Nicole Flattery.


Those darling buds are coming back to life in live literature land as 2019 gets properly underway, and we’ve plenty to look forward to – from performance poetry and soundscapes to readings from magazines, memoirs and award-winning short stories.


We have some hotly anticipated gigs coming up in Manchester and the north over the next few months! Read about them here!

Tours and Activities

In this month’s roundup of best Tours and Activities in Manchester and the North, we highlight the pottery and craft workshops giving you some cathartic and creative opportunities to get making.