Fun things to do around Greater Manchester for all the family
Half term always sneaks up on us and planning fun things to do is more haphazard then ever thanks to outbreaks of the dreaded C-word (remember when that meant chickenpox?). If you’re already breaking into a flustered sweat at the thought of filling a half-term-shaped hole with CBeebies and inflation-busting soft play centres, fear not.
We've put together a list of fun things to do, balancing out cultural gems with outdoorsy stuff to help left off some steam. Conscious that costs go up over half term, we've looked for free activities with a few spendier ones in there too, just in case. Many museums and venues will be open for the full seven days of not one but two weeks of the half term (dates vary in different areas) so heading down on a Monday or Tuesday could be a good idea if you are worried about crowds.
Don't forget to check out our list of places to eat with kids in the city centre, for when weary legs and minds need reviving through the power of ice cream. Please check all details ahead as sometimes events and venues can change due to COVID regulations. Booking ahead where possible is advised so venues can plan ahead and keep in touch with you if there are changes.
Get baking, learning, crafting or partying this half-term with our pick of the best family activities in Manchester.
NOBODY | HOME | 10-12 FEBRUARY
Suitable for family audiences (HOME recommend from age 7 as a guide), Nobody explores the tension between our inner lives and how we make sense of the world around us. Blending circus performances and dance, the show follows seven characters on their journey of self-discovery to find strength and support in each other, while a group of curious crows questions their every move. The frenetic pace keeps things exciting for young ‘uns. Tickets from £16.
DANCE LIKE A MOTHER | GRUB | 12 FEBRUARY
The popular babywearing dance class pops up at Grub for the beginning of half term. Not sure what a babywearing dance class is? Just stick babba in a sling and move. There will be coffee and cake after plus Grub's play area is perfect for older sibs (£7 per adult). The next day (13 February) see a Valentine's Crafternoon where children can decorate a heart-shaped box (£3) plus all the usual food fair gubbins from the OG street food outfit.
CURIOUS INVESTIGATORS | SALE WATERSIDE | 13 FEBRUARY
This show about recycling and er, eggs, is a cracking adventure created in collaboration with engineering experts from Lancaster University: a delightfully surprising, highly visual show for 3-7-year-olds and their grown-ups. The whole thing takes around an hour and tickets start from £7.
FAMILY VOGUE BALL | CONTACT THEATRE | 13 FEBRUARY
Part theatre show, part vogue ball: glamour, glitz and grace come together in a fabulous celebration at the Contact Theatre. A performer from each of four houses will catwalk, dance and lip-sync, competing to be crowned by the audience. Tickets are £7.50 and the show lasts approximately 45 mins. Earlier in the day, the Palaver Party promises fun and self-expression with DIY costume-making, party games, sing-a-longs, glitter, and a rainbow disco for all the family. Tickets are also £7.50 or you can double up go to both events for £10.
VARIOUS EXHIBITIONS| PEOPLE’S HISTORY MUSEUM | 12 - 27 FEBRUARY
Exciting news - for both of the half-term weeks only, The People’s History Museum will be open seven days a week for the first time since the pandemic began. We recommend having a look at the Banner exhibition, with colourful objects created for groundbreaking moments of protest, or let older children (the PHM recommends this one for age 9 and over, though that’s just a guide) explore stories of migration either as a refugee, asylum seeker or economic migrant with Migration: A Human Story. And of course, we love Open Kitchen MCR, with its ethical and sustainable ethos it made it into our list of top ten places to eat with kids.
PRESTWICH FOREST SCHOOL | GARDEN NEEDS | 14 FEBRUARY – 18 FEBRUARY
Offering places for children aged 5-9, these sessions run from 7:30am til 6pm throughout the half term hols. Meeting at Garden Needs, the groups then head into Kersal Dale for a day of den making, nature navigation, campfire cooking, and a good old dose of fresh forest air.
SING! WORKSHOP DAY| GRACE CHURCH CENTRE | 15 FEBRUARY
If you’re secretly convinced that your sprog is the next Judy Garland, or you just fancy a day off during half-term, Bolton Little Voices is hosting a SING! Workshop for children aged 5-14. With singing, games, drama, and jazz hands, your kids can meet new people and learn new skills with the Little Voices team at the Grace Church Centre. Tickets are £25 and the workshop runs from 9:30am til 3:30pm.
HALF TERM SPECIAL | SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY MUSEUM | 12 - 27 FEBRUARY
The Science and Industry Museum has created a week of activities inspired by its groundbreaking cancer exhibition. Don’t miss Get Curious on 23 February, where you can meet scientists and experts working in STEM, all armed with amazing facts and hands-on activities for you to get stuck into. For little ones Mini Movers is back for half term, and the whole family will awe at the beautiful moving sculpture, A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley. Activities are free but booking via the website is strongly recommended.
BIG DIG/THE BEETLES | SADLER’S YARD | 12 & 19 FEBRUARY
There are plenty of cultural treats for kids in town, but outdoorsy stuff can be harder to come by. These sweet gardening workshops in Sadler's Yard aim to introduce kids to nature in the city with plenty of soil, minibeasts and fun. The workshops are held regularly on a Saturday afternoon and are free, but are bound to be a bit busier at half term so make sure you book on the link above.
DARK SKIES FESTIVAL | FOREST OF BOWLAND | 16 - 27 FEBRUARY
The moon and stars never fail to fascinate but budding astronomers have to fight light pollution to get a decent view of the night sky. The Dark Skies Festival invites us to get away from the urban landscape to really appreciate the universe’s beauty in this week-long festival. If you can’t get over to the Forest of Bowland, or you just think it might be a wee bit chilly, there are some great online events to choose from as well, including a virtual live Moon Watch (Sunday 13 February) and Exploring the Universe With Robots (Monday 14 February 14). Booking is essential.
HALF TERM AT THE HOUSE | ELIZABETH GASKELL’S HOUSE | 16 - 27 FEBRUARY
History-loving kids (and their grown-ups) will be into these family craft activities in the Servants’ Hall themed around the classic Victorian greetings card - think lace borders, decoupage and crinoline to set the style. This activity is being run in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University which has a surprisingly vast collection of cards from the Victorian era. It may just miss Valentine's day but we think you can expect a sweet love note or two crafted here. The cat trail is also available to follow around the house. Both are included in admission and run as long as the house is open. Under 16s free with paying adult - Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, please book in advance.
FAMILY FILM CLUB | MANCHESTER CENTRAL LIBRARY | 19 FEBRUARY
Central Library is launching a family film club, including a themed crafts session, and will showcase books linked to the monthly theme, which for February is LGBT+ history month. The club is free to join and we've heard there may be popcorn. Make sure you check out the beautifully refurbished children's library while you are here, plus your local library all be running events too.
RAINBOW WARRIOR YOGA | THE MONASTERY | 20 FEBRUARY
This sweet yoga class for you and your mini-me offers a chance at a relaxing Sunday (truly, not an oxymoron) with fun and simple poses, followed by a mindful colouring session to help channel energy, develop focus, concentration and mindfulness. The class is £5 for adults and £2 for children and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Book ahead.
STAN | THE MET | 17 & 18 FEBRUARY
This powerful and poignant new production positively demonstrates how we can overcome language barriers, and challenges preconceptions of deafness. The show follows a happy, dinosaur-loving 8-year-old whose world turns upside down after his parents separate. He makes a friend with a new perspective on the world; a deaf girl with a vivid imagination - and an impressive collection of dinosaurs. Showing first in Hulme's Z-Arts on the 10 and 12 of February before moving to Bury's The Met, Stan (named after Manchester Museum's famous T-Rex) is a delightful piece of theatre directed by John McGrath. Tickets from £7.
MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY| Z-ARTS | 20 FEBRUARY
As well as hosting Stan (see above) and the ever-popular Tiger Who Came To Tea/Mog exhibit, Z Arts will be having a family fun day themed around International Mother Language Day. This session will be creative, fun and focus on sounds through words and how music can lift your heart and soul, together as a family. Z-Arts is a great resource and it's worth exploring all it has to offer. Tickets are £1.
UNDER YOUR FEET | RHS BRIDGEWATER | 19-27 FEBRUARY
One for those who have a later half term, the new-ish horticultural hotspot in Salford is offering a fun selection of activities inspired by the ground we walk on. Storytelling, making a wormery, gardening activities and feeding the pigs all feature on the lineup. All activities are included with garden admission.
Free to RHS members and children under 5.
AFROCATS TAKEOVER | THE WHITWORTH | 22-24 FEBRUARY
Join Afrocats this half term as they take over the Whitworth with cultural and creative movement activities and arts and crafts workshops for children, young people and families running in the mid-week afternoons. Whitworth classics such as Welly Walks and Art Hampers are available too. Top tip - bring a picnic as the cafe is only serving cakes and drinks during half term (both weeks). Free.
MAKE YOUR OWN ARMBAND | NATIONAL FOOTBALL MUSEUM | 19-27 FEBRUARY
The National Football Museum has taken inspo from Harry Kane's rainbow captain's armband to get visitors thinking about the causes and social issues they care about via the Make Your Own Armband activity. Those taking part will be given their own white fabric armband to colour in and decorate how they see fit. The activity is entirely free and will be taking place across half term, every day between 11am and 2pm in the Pitch Gallery. Suitable for all ages.
HALF TERM BAKING | MANCHESTER JEWISH MUSEUM | 21 & 23 FEBRUARY
Create delicious spiced winter challah (a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish bread) or hamantaschen, tiny pastry triangles traditionally eaten at Purim. These baking workshops are designed for ages 6+ but all ages welcome and adults can learn a lot too. All children should be supervised and tickets are from £4. There is also a zine workshop on the 20 February that will appeal to creative teens with something to say.
BRICKTASTIC | MANCHESTER CENTRAL | 26 - 27 FEBRUARY
Over 100 LEGO model builders from throughout Europe will be attending to show and discuss their incredible models. Pretty much anything you can imagine will be built from everyone's favourite Danish export/booby trap for bare feet. There will be live mosaic building, brick pits, graffiti wall and other secret surprises, plus some of the country's top LEGO retailers will also be there to satisfy all the shopping needs (sorry). Tickets from £13.
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