Family things to do in Manchester and the North

Sarah Gaffney-Lang, Families Editor

With the recent spell of decent weather, we are excited for all the fabulous family things to do in the coming weeks and months – especially ones that happen to be outdoors. In this month’s round up, we have two walks with a difference – at Mottram Hall and Tatton Park along with outdoor theatre and family-friendly festivals.

Calling rail enthusiasts big and small! Celebrate steam’s golden age with a family trip on the Flying Scotsman this summer. Following the unfortunate coronavirus related cancellations at Easter, the East Lancashire Railway is thrilled to be welcoming the return of this legend which your little ones are sure to enjoy.

Round up the family for a woodland walk with a difference! In the stunning surroundings of Mottram Hall, a whole host of species await discovery – from dinosaurs and jungle animals to mythical creatures and even superheroes. One thing’s for sure, Totally Roarsome is bound to excite.

The prospect of a festival is thrilling and 5 on the Farm in Barnsley, Yorkshire manages to combine all of the best kids activities into one three-day extravaganza with the aim of celebrating rural life. With plenty of opportunities to meet their favourite Milkshake! TV presenters, much-loved cartoon characters Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, and access to furry friends in Cannon Hall Farm there’s something for everyone.

After months indoors, the very mention of outdoor theatre has us brimming with excitement! Which is why Waterside Arts and Heartbreak Productions’ new adaptation of the children’s favourite Mr. Stink is simply unmissable. Arrive early to explore Sale’s ‘secret’ Walkden Gardens before settling down with a picnic.

There are a host of online activities for families to enjoy too –  ranging from a raucous protest style sing-song with songwriter Matt Hill (you can expect tunes from all the greats – including Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan) to crafts with Early Years Atelier at The Whitworth. Do bedtime a little differently! Get cosy and snuggle up for a live-streamed, multi-sensory story session via the People’s History Museum’s Facebook page. It’s a perfect way for your tots to prepare for a long snooze (fingers crossed, eh!) at the end of the day.

If outdoor theatre is your thing, then be sure to check out our guide to open air theatre in Manchester and the North which includes some family-friendly offerings.

Events are still changing at pace, but rest assured that we continue to update these pages frequently – so do check back for new family-friendly activities. In the meantime, be sure to check out our full guide to the best online events from organisations in Manchester and the North too.

Scroll down to get stuck in.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Flying Scotsman at East Lancashire Railway

    Flying Scotsman Eats Lancashire Railway
    Nigel Valentine

    Flying Scotsman at East Lancashire Railway, 29 August–5 September 2021, from £12.4 - Book now

    Celebrate steam’s golden age with a family trip on the Flying Scotsman this summer! A trip on the world’s most iconic locomotive makes for an incredible day out and is sure to excite rail enthusiasts big and small.

  • 2. Percy the Park Keeper – The Secret Path in the Gardens

    Percy the Park Keeper - The Secret Path in the Gardens, Tatton Park

    Percy the Park Keeper - The Secret Path in the Gardens at Tatton Park, Until 13 June 2021, from £6 - Book now

    There’s nowhere quite like Tatton Park on a warm sunny day and Percy the Park Keeper – The Secret Path in the Gardens is the perfect way to explore the stunning ‘secret gardens’ and all it has to offer with your little ones.

  • 3. ComedySportz

    ComedySportz, Waterside Arts

    ComedySportz at Waterside Arts, Manchester, 11 September 2021, from £6 - Book now

    Head to Waterside Arts for a comedy show with a difference! Suitable for children aged 7 and up, ComedySportz combines football, tennis, and theatre in a performance packed with plenty of gags.

  • 4. Totally Roarsome

    Totally Roarsome, Mottram Hall
    Courtesy of Totally Roarsome

    Totally Roarsome at Mottram Hall, Macclesfield, Until 6 June 2021, from £7.95 - Book now

    Head over to Mottram Hall where, in the depths of stunning Cheshire woodland, you’ll discover an immersive walking trail. Totally Roarsome promises to excite your little ones with huge figures of animals ranging from the Jurassic to the mythical.

  • 5. 5 on the Farm Festival

    Channel 5

    5 on the Farm Festival at Cannon Hall Farm, 28–30 August 2021, from £24.95 - Book now

    This three-day extravaganza manages to combine all of the best kids activities into one festival featuring famous faces from the tellybox, access to furry farm animals, and opportunities to meet much-loved cartoon characters from Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol.

  • 6. The Jungle Book at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

    The Jungle Book at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre
    Image courtesy of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre.

    The Jungle Book at Grosvenor Park, Chester, 29 May–30 August 2021, from £28 - Book now

    A vivid new version of this charming story will swing into Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre this summer.

  • 7. Mr Stink

    Mr Stink Heartbreak Productions
    Jeremy Abrahams

    Mr Stink at Walkden Gardens, Manchester, 13 June 2021, from £11 - Book now

    Round up the family for a trip to Walkden Gardens to watch Waterside Arts and Heartbreak Productions’ outdoor theatre adaptation of Mr Stink in stunning Sale parkland which is perfect for a summertime picnic.

  • 8. Doodle Den: Playful Protests Online

    doodle den at people's history museum, young girl using thick marker pen to drawer on a glass panel

    Doodle Den: Playful Protests at People's History Museum at People’s History Museum in Manchester, City Centre and online, Until 31 December 2021, free entry

    Hunker down with blankets, cushions and whatever takes your fancy to create a Doodle Den and use the People’s History Museum’s online resources to creatively explore important topics including climate change, LGBT+ Pride and migrant rights.

  • 9. My First Protest Song with the People’s History Museum

    Babies listening to a man play the guitar as part of My First Protest Song
    People's History Museum

    My First Protest Song online, Until 5 June 2021, free entry - Visit now

    Round up the family and join singer-songwriter Matt Hill (Quiet Loner) for this online event full of toe-tapping tunes from times of change.

  • 10. Online bedtime story with the People’s History Museum

    People's History Museum

    Bedtime story - online, online, 17 June 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    Snuggle up and get cosy to enjoy a livestreamed, multi-sensory story session via the People’s History Museum’s Facebook page. It’s the perfect way for your little ones to prepare for a long snooze.

  • 11. Zog

    Zog Live onstage at The Lowry theatre
    Courtesy of Freckle Productions

    Zog at The Lowry, Manchester, 2–4 July 2021, from £16 - Book now

    Don’t miss the children’s classic Zog live at The Lowry! This new adaptation is jam-packed with lively songs from Joe Stilgie and is sure to have your little ones up in their seats, singing along while cheering the loveable Zog on.

  • 12. Manchester Museum

    Manchester Museum Tours at Manchester Museum

    Manchester Museum, The University Of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 9PL - Visit now

    Round up the family and explore Manchester Museum’s collection from your home.  Head over to their new site for entertainment and education until they reopen.

More in Families

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank
Activity Until 31 December 2021, FREE

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank is a perfect way to keep children (and their adults) busy while learning from home.

Hidden Winter
Families Until 31 August 2021, FREE

Hidden Winter

Round the family up and head outside for this wonderful story walk adventure from Stand and Be Counted Theatre. Perfect for livening up a lockdown walk.

Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security at the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester
Exhibitions 19 May–31 August 2021,

Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security at the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester

TOP SECRET: the Science and Industry Museum digs into the history of British national security over the last 100 years.

The Merry Wives of Windsor at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre
Families 4 June–30 August 2021, from £30

The Merry Wives of Windsor at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

Enjoy this hilarious Shakespearean comedy in the wonderful open-air surroundings of Grosvenor Park.

Manchester International Festival: The Walk
Families 4 July 2021, FREE

MIF21: The Walk

An epic and extraordinary travelling artwork will set off from the Turkish – Syrian border for Manchester this April. Adventurous and inventive, this is the first event to be announced for MIF21.

Vintage by the Sea
Families 4–5 September 2021, FREE

Vintage by the Sea in Morecambe

Celebrate the brilliance of 20th century design, fashion, vehicles and entertainment at this award-winning festival set around Morecambe’s famous art deco Midland Hotel.

Professor Brian Cox - Horizons
Education 13 October 2021 7:30 pm, from £43.25

Professor Brian Cox: Horizons

Using state of the art LED screen technology, Horizons will fill the M&S Bank Arena with images of far-away galaxies, alien worlds, supermassive black holes and a time before the Big Bang.
Horizons is a celebration of our civilisation, of our music, art, philosophy and science; an optimistic vision of our future if we continue to explore Nature with humility and to value ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Winter Droving Penrith
Families 26 October 2021 12:00 pm, FREE

The Winter Droving in Penrith

An incredible wonderland of outdoor arts, masquerade and pint carrying competitions in Penrith.

Exhibitions 5–6 November 2021, FREE

Light Up Lancaster

Festival of light and art Light Up Lancaster returns to the city with installations, projections, performance and fireworks illuminating the city’s historic buildings, charming streets and hidden squares.

Culture Guides

Cinema in Manchester and the North

We look at online festivals, new streaming releases and some newly announced outdoor cinema screenings.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Exhibitions

A floating festival, an LSD-inspired journey across space and time, an exhibition curated by GCHQ – there’s plenty to look forward to this month.

Writer and translator Jhumpa Lahiri.

Literature

As the land of live literature tentatively opens the door a crack, we have some talks and walks IRL to flag up and a whole host of online dates for your diary this May, a jam-packed month of festival readings, digital book launches and spoken word showcases…

Music

We look ahead to the return of physical gigs, selecting a handful of live shows in May and June, as well as some online concerts to tide us over.

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

You’ll find all the best live-streamed shows, online festivals and live outdoor performance in our theatre guide this month.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

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

Dapur Malaysia

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

It’s the March edition of the Food and Drink Guide to Manchester and the North and things are slowly starting to feel more promising. Spring is here, the weather is mostly warming up and in just a few weeks we’ll be allowed to eat and drink outside at venues with outside space.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Online events

Discover the best things to do online from the organisations we love in Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter and the flowers of spring have truly sprung. We’re welcoming in the new season with a guide of Tours and Activities that will inspire you to make, learn and move.

Things to do right now

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Totally Roarsome, Mottram Hall
Families Until 6 June 2021, from £7.95

Totally Roarsome

Hidden Winter
Families Until 31 August 2021, FREE

Hidden Winter

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank
Activity Until 31 December 2021, FREE

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank

doodle den at people's history museum, young girl using thick marker pen to drawer on a glass panel
Activity Until 31 December 2021, FREE

Doodle Den: Playful Protests Online