The Frost Fair features Manchester's largest outdoor dancefloor

Winter wonderlands, Christmas markets, cosy tipis and snug igloos (snugloos?) - Manchester has transformed into a festive city with such enthusiasm that you might even start missing the days when rain-swept alleys weren't jollied up with a few twinkle lights.

Well you just have to wait until January for your fill of gloom as one of the OG alternatives to the Christmas markets is back. The Frost Fair at The Whitworth returns this year after a bit of a hiatus, lighting up the art gallery and grounds on Saturday 4  and Sunday 5 December, 11am till 7pm. 

A weekend full of arts, music and culture, there’s something for everyone

The Frost Fair will taking over both the inside and outside of The Whitworth with an epic programme of music, entertainment, workshops plus an outdoor cinema, huge dance floor, craft markets and street food. It doesn't look like the ice rink is making a return this year (look out for our upcoming article on the best places to get your skate on this year) but it definitely captures the magic of the original event.

The theme for this year’s fair is reflection and celebration: reflecting on the challenges of the past year and celebrating being back together. The organisers have tagged it "the winter of love".

A Firework Display Outside The Whitworth
A pyrotechnic display on the Sculpture Terrace Image: The Whitworth

The Sculpture Terrace will be transformed into an entertainment square, home to the main stage and the largest outdoor dancefloor in the city. The main stage will be dominated by local musical talent, encouraging the crowds to warm up cold feet with a bit of dancing action. On Saturday MC Kwasi will be hosting the stage and Me Gusta Collective will kick off the day with a mix of Afro-Latin, Caribbean and Middle Eastern sounds. Manchester’s favourite duo Mr Scruff and Mikey D.O.N will take to the stage at later in the afternoon. 

On Sunday MC Kwasi will be joined by P-RO to host the stage, with Manchester rock band PINS, followed by the fabulous DJ Paulette and the iconic Manchester band A Certain Ratio closing the stage from 6pm. On both days, The Playhouse Project featuring the Disco Mums will be entertaining the grown-ups and the little ones from 11am, and House of Ghetto will be strutting and voguing their stuff. 

Street Food Stalls At The Whitworth Frost Fair
Street food stalls at the Frost Fair Image: The Whitworth

Naturally we will be thinking about what to eat. The South Avenue will be filled with craft market stalls from local artisans, street food pop ups, and a seasonal alcoholic and non-alcoholic bar. 

The art garden will transform into magical winter garden throughout the day, and after dusk, will host an outdoor cinema featuring arguably the best Christmas film ever, Elf

Francine Hayfron, Cultural Park Keeper of Whitworth Gallery said: 

“We are thrilled for The Frost Fair to return, bigger and better than before! A weekend full of arts, music and culture, there’s something for everyone. Whether you want to get creative in a workshop, watch some amazing acts and have a dance, enjoy some food and drink, or relax and watch a film we’ve got you covered.”

Frost Fair is free to attend and will run from Saturday 4 to Sunday 5 December at The Whitworth

Read again: The 10 best Christmas dine-at-home experiences in Manchester

Read next: A round-up of Manchester’s Christmas markets 2021

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