A rare chance to swim at Victoria Baths and nine more uplifting activities for the month ahead

SALFORD is holding its first-ever We Invented The Weekend festival this September; two days of events and activities that celebrate the joy of free time. Its name comes from the fact that we did indeed invent the weekend here in Greater Manchester. In the 1840s workers' rights activists campaigned for Saturday afternoons off and successfully ended the standard six-day week.

But we can't help wondering what those activists would think if they saw us now, answering work emails on a Saturday morning, too tired to do anything in our free time other than scroll through our phones and doze on the sofa? Surely this wasn't what they envisaged for our hard-fought-for days off?

With this in mind, we've picked out ten edifying, life-affirming activities that'll help us make the most of our weekends, including night swims, charity runs, bike rides, wellbeing festivals and more. Cancel all the subscriptions; we're way too busy for telly this month.

Here is our roundup of healthy things to do in Greater Manchester in September

JoyRiders Manchester three girls on bikes in park
Get a place on this all-girl group cycle ride around Chorlton Meadows Image: JoyRiders

JoyRiders Beginners' Ride for Women | Jackson's Boat, Sale Water Park | Saturday 3 September

Join JoyRiders Manchester for this gentle cycle around the paths of Sale Water Park and Chorlton Meadows, ending at Tree Tops Cafe for post-ride refreshments. It's aimed at women who have just learned to ride a bike or are returning to cycling and feel happier venturing out in a group. If you've no bike, no worries, they'll lend you one. Expect a leisurely pace with a dedicated back rider so that nobody gets left behind. 10am-12pm. Free.  

Running Bee T Shirt Heaton Park 10k
Worth it just for the t-shirt Image: Running Bee Foundation

We Love Our NHS Manchester 10k | Heaton Park | Sunday 4 September 

Head to Heaton Park for this friendly, feel-good 10k organised by the Running Bee Foundation with all profits going to local health and wellbeing charities. Incentives for taking part (aside from bragging rights) include a technical running shirt, specially-designed medal, and entertainment in the Athlete's Village (yes, you're an athlete now). There's also a "My First Mile" run for anyone who wants to experience the race-day atmosphere but isn't quite ready for a 5k yet (£5). 9.30am-11.30am. Entry for 10k £24/£26.  

Tarot cards from Ki Retreat
We see a holistic day out at Whitworth Locke in your future Image: The Ki Retreat

Rebalance Wellbeing Festival | Whitworth Locke, city centre | Sunday 4 September

Drop into this free festival at Whitworth Locke dedicated to all things wellbeing. There'll be a busy holistic market, vegan bakes, Foundation Coffee, and mini-workshops on topics such as crystals and chakras, and setting boundaries. Therapists will be offering bookable treatments, including card readings and astrology. The stars are telling us it's worth checking out. Free. 10am-4pm. Just turn up.

(There are a handful of tickets left for the Rebalance Retreat (£50) which runs at the same venue on the same day - contact the festival organiser for details.)

Kayak in Salford for We Invented the Weekend.jpg
Learn to kayak in the balmy waters of Salford Quays Image: Salford Waterspots Centre

We Invented The Weekend | Salford Quays and MediaCity | Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September

Salford’s new festival celebrates all the cool stuff we do (or could be doing) in our free time - so if your weekends are mainly devoted to hangover recovery, it could be the kick up the arse you need. There are loads of activities to have a go at: learn how to vogue, take part in quayside yoga, try your hand at boxing, take to the water in a KataKanu (that's a cross between a kayak and a catamaran, landlubber). Taster sessions include kettlebells, dodgeball, basketball, kwik cricket and more. Check the website for bookable activities or just head down there and see what’s happening. Free.

Lily windows at Victoria Baths
No dive bombing. No heavy petting. Image: Victoria Baths by Brian Slater

The Big Splash 2022 | Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road | Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September

It's Manchester's most celebrated swimming pool but rarely do you actually get to swim in it (this is only the third time in about 30 years). For one weekend only, the beautiful Gala Pool will be filled with water and open to the public for pre-booked 45-minute swim sessions. They describe the facilities as "basic" (no showers, no central heating) but we'd say "majestic" is a better word, thanks to the iconic architecture and those gorgeous trend-setting tiles. After your dip, wrap up warm and head to the tea room or explore the rest of this intriguing building. Swimming £17.55. Building entry and spectators free.

Cyclists on a country lane
Become a part of #TeamChristie by taking part in the Manchester 100k Image: Bike Events

The Christie Manchester 100k | Wythenshawe Park | Sunday 11 September

This 100km bike ride for the "regular and reasonably fit cyclist" takes you from Wythenshawe through the rolling countryside of Cheshire, passing through Nantwich, Knutsford, and Middlewich before looping back to the start. The aim of the day is to raise money for The Christie so all donations are welcome, whatever size. Get a few sponsors and become part of #TeamChristie - it's a life-changing cause. Start times 8am-9.30am. Entry £25.50.

Athletes at South Manchester Triathlon
Swim, cycle and run at the South Manchester Triathlon Image: Find A Race

South Manchester Triathlon | Wilmslow Leisure Centre | Sunday 11 September

This "sprint" length triathlon starts with an indoor swim at Wilmslow Leisure Centre before you race around the leafy lanes of East Wilmslow. The distances look doable: swim 400m, bike 25km, run 6.3km. And you can ditch one of the elements to make it a duathlon if you like. Start 8am. Entry is £49.99-£66.99.

Man in wetsuit for Neon Swim Salford Quays.jpg
Take a dip in the dark at the Neon Swim Image: USwim

Neon Swim | Dock 9, Salford Quays | Saturday 17 September

How's this for a Saturday night out with a difference? It's an after-dark swim at Salford Quays, lit with glow sticks and surrounded by the twinkly backdrop of MediaCity. Distances range from 500m to 3km and the emphasis is on fun rather than competition (though nobody's going to stop you if you want to break a world record). Glow sticks are provided but bring your own UV body decorations, stick-on fins, and extra lights. Registration 7.30pm-8.30pm. Tickets from £10 (juniors) and £25 (adults).

Blue witchy candle for wellbeing festival
Stock up on candles at the Manchester Mind, Body, Spirit and Yoga festival Image: Amazonite Griffin

Manchester Mind, Body, Spirit and Yoga Festival | Bowler's Exhibition Centre, Stretford | Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September

Be warned: with two big rooms full of psychics, tarot readers and mediums, there'll be some very powerful energy centring on Stretford on the last weekend in September. Good energy of course; this event is for the white witches amongst us, or anyone who's partial to a bit of crystal cleansing on a full moon (we've all done it, haven't we?) There's also yoga, vegan food and a fab hippy market selling everything from Tibetan jewellery to "sweary affirmations". Let's fucking do it. 10am-5pm. £8.

outdoor yoga class at Angel Meadow Park
Get grounded on a Friday morning with outdoor yoga at Angel Meadow Park Image: Meadowside Manchester

Yoga in the Meadow | Angel Meadow Park, Old Mount Street | Friday 30 September

End the month with an early-morning outdoor yoga class in the park with instructor Kate Tittley. They've been happening every last Friday of the month over the spring and summer and they're hoping to end the series on a high with blue skies and sunshine (cover will be provided if the weather says otherwise). It's for all abilities, you just need to bring your own mat. 8am-8.45am. Free.

Follow Sarah at Body Confidential (Instagram) or Body Confidential (Facebook)

Main image: Victoria Baths by Aidan O’Rourke

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