From online plays and parties to light festivals and drive-in cinemas, we’ve got something for all
Christmas may look very different this year, but Santa has still come to town - to Central Library in fact, where his thousands of low-energy LEDs will be switched on this week to kickstart the festive countdown. The 2.3-tonne, 12-metre-high mascot will soon be joined by a trail of large light sculptures - in Piccadilly Gardens, St Peter’s Square and New Cathedral Street - along with the traditional crib in St Ann’s Square and a Christmas tree by the Cathedral. Lights will be turned on by three NHS heroes working on the coronavirus frontline.
Yes, the other big C may have dominated proceedings in 2020 but that doesn’t mean all festivities are cancelled. From online plays and parties to drive-in cinemas and illuminated trails, we’ve found something for everyone to enjoy this December.
Manchester Libraries: advent calendar and gifting appeal (1st - 24th December)
Royal Exchange: All I Want for Christmas (1st - 25th December)
Shelter carol concert (Thursday 3rd December)
Imperial War Museum: Christmas at War & Painting 1940s London (Saturday 5th December)
Contact: Virtual Forest of Forgotten Discos (Saturday 5th December)
(5th - 24th December) Chill Factore will be open for other activities
BBC: Great Northern Christmas (send recordings by Sunday 6th December)
(Tuesday 8th December)
Freemasons' Hall organ concert (Wednesday 9th December)
(11th- 18th December)
(Saturday 12th December)
53Two: Write Christmas (12th - 24th December)
(18th, 19th, 26th, 31st December)
Niamos: Letsby Avenue (20th - 23rd December)
Escape Hunt: Charity Game Night - Santa’s Naughty List (Thursday 24th December)
Reform Radio: Xmas Extravaganza with Jenna and The G’s (Thursday 24th December)
(various; more info )
HOME: Christmas at HOME (various)
Z Arts: children’s activities (various)
Stoller Hall winter concert season (various)
Halle winter concert season (various)
Running Bee Foundation: Jingle Bee Jog (December)
(December) Psst…check out their fab too
Unsurprisingly, physical events are relatively scarce this December; with drive-ins and light festivals ruling the 2020 roost. However, with many hopeful that Manchester will move down to Tier 3 on 16th December, there’s plenty waiting in the wings; from Winter Island at Mayfield and Bar Hütte at Great Northern Square to shows like smash hit musical SIX at the Lowry, the Opera House’s Sleeping Beauty panto and Christmas Barrel of Laughs at Frog and Bucket. Fingers crossed… Meantime, here are some of the events definitely going ahead; all, of course, subject to social distancing and Tier 3 restrictions. NB: dates exclude Christmas Day.
Miles Platting - Drive-Thru Santa’s Grotto (2nd - 31st December)
MediaCity - Box on the Docks (various; Unwrapped shopping weekend 12th - 13th December)
NOMA - Christmas installations (until 10th January)
With many shoppers (rightly) considering the ethics of what they buy, there are resources aplenty for that too: outlets like Ethical Consumer are packed with useful info.
More around Greater Manchester
Many venues across Greater Manchester are putting on some great (mainly digital) events for all the family to enjoy this December; from plays and storytelling at Bolton Octagon and Oldham Coliseum to Christmas at Dunham Massey.
Want a break from Yuletide events? Non-festive happenings span Hope Mill Theatre’s Rent to the Better in Person short play series and Obstructions at Castlefield Gallery, which has made its exhibition available online during Tier 3 restrictions.
Check your local council website for performance venues, museums and galleries near you; plus other happenings and services in your borough. Those planning on visiting a town or city centre will also find advice on using public transport during the pandemic, with some also offering incentives like discounted parking for drivers.