Family fun in and around the city this summer holidays

Right now the only family activity we can imagine doing is having a competition to see how many ice pops we can consume in one go. But the summer hols are looming and the temperatures should go down, so we've selected our favourite kid-friendly events and places from across the region to fill the days that are less than glorious.

This summer there is a good selection of festivals and days out to enjoy, from old favourites making a post-pandemic comeback to new events that aren't too heavy on the pocket. As ever, we've looked for low-cost activities and balanced it out with a few treats; and we always recommend booking ahead when you can and checking ahead of travelling in case times or dates change.

Read on for a bumper fun pack of summer adventures for you and your family.

Dunham Massey is taking us on a fairy tale adventure Image: National Trust


Great Garden Adventure at RHS Bridgewater Explorer quests, story times, planting and craft welly walks and bug hunts - RHS Bridgewater has it covered. We'll be there for the Birds of Prey Days on Fridays. Various times and dates, included in admission price

Family Garden Trail at Elizabeth Gaskell's House This brand new trail will illuminate fascinating stories about the Gaskell household in Victorian times, plus there will be a selection of traditional Victorian garden games like croquet, skittles and quoits for fun with on the lawns, where you can also enjoy a picnic. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday over summer, entry is £6.50 for adults, free for accompanying kids

Beekeeping Open Day at Heaton Park Get close up and personal with Manchester's favourite symbol of industry. Beekeepers will show you the observation hive, plus there is plenty to do at Heaton Park after the buzz, with cafe, farm and playground. Open days at the Dower House are every Sunday over the holidays

Summer Farm Fun at Tatton Park Daily activities include the maize maze and sheep racing but look out for Taster Tuesday events including fun foodie activities such as ice-cream making or having a go at making your own cheese. Open every day except Monday, £15 for a family ticket, parking charges also apply

Emirates Old Trafford
Old Trafford transforms into a family friendly zone Image: Emirate Old Trafford


Simply Cycling at various locations Simply Cycling gives you the chance to try out lots of different bikes, including trikes and tandems, for a fun 45-minute session. Locations are Longford Park, Wythenshawe and Boggart Hole Clough. £3 per person, check website for times and to book.

Women's Euros Heroes Day at the National Football Museum Tons to do to celebrate the progress of the Lionesses this summer, with skills sessions, face painting and more. 31 July, book tickets ahead

The Hundred at Old Trafford Family-friendly, jazzed-up version of cricket with fixtures across summer. Music, entertainment and street food add to the fun. Tickets for 5-16 years olds are £5

Junior Park Run at various locations. You might know about Park Run for adults but there are also kid-friendly, shorter versions at locations across Manchester too. Sunday mornings, free but register beforehand

Wythenshawe Games Three mini-festivals of sport across Wythenshawe, with climbing, archery, martial arts and more plus plenty of bookable activities spread across the summer. Check the website for all details. 25 July-17 August, many of the activities are free but check for individual prices

Power Up At The Science Museum  Benjamin Ealovega Science Museum
Power UP your gaming skills Image: Museum of Science and Industry

Computers & Gaming

Power UP at Museum of Science and Industry Introduce the Fall Guys generation to vintage arcade games from Pong to Pacman and Sonic to Street Fighter plus a selection of games created in Manchester. Open daily during the holidays, tickets from £6

Apple Lab for Kids Free skills workshops at the Apple stores in the Trafford Centre and Arndale stores, including Art Lab: Comic Book Adventure which uses iPads to create your own comic. Teens might like some of the non-kids sessions too. Lots of availability but grown-ups must attend too. Various dates and times

Arcade Club, Bury Four floors of arcade machines, pinball, games consoles and other exciting gaming attractions. Going along on the early side (it opens from 11am in summer) is recommended for families. Tickets from £6, open Thursday - Sunday

Z Arts Fairy Tales Exhibition Credit Z Arts
Capturing the magic of fairy tales at Z-Arts Image: Z-Arts

Days Out

Summer Daze at the Trafford Centre For those in search of air-con, the Trafford centre can't be beat. With a fairground, beach and a free outdoor cinema, it's more than just shopping. 22 July - 4 September, tickets for fairground and beach are £2.80 book ahead.

Fairy Tales at Z-Arts Discover a world of giants and palaces; gingerbread houses and also caves full of treasure. Featuring all of the best-loved fairy tales, children (and their grown-ups) can enjoy sharing their favourite stories at fantastic family resource Z-Arts. Worth a look at their timetable for other fun events. Various dates, tickets £8 per person

Nickelodeon Experience at Heaton Park Adventure seekers will have the chance to explore the worlds of Paw Patrol, Henry Danger, SpongeBobTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with an immersive escape room, an interactive air maze, and a pirate treasure hunt - plus there is plenty of slime about, naturally. 23 July - 5 August tickets from £19.50

Family Weekender at Media City Box on the Docks presents giant lawn games, live music, craft activities and storytelling with the Salford Literacy Trail. 20-21 August, free entry

Fairy Tale Summer at Dunham Massey Activities are available almost every day loosely based around the fairy tale theme, from stories to fancy dress to circus skills. There is also an outdoor performance of Cinderella on 13 August. Check website for dates, admission charges apply 

Orange Bus Manchester The Last Time Buses Were In Public Hands
A vintage orange bus Image: Confidentials


Wizard Adventure with East Lancs Railway While not explicitly a branded HP experience, it's pretty obvious which boy wizard inspired this experience, departing from Platform 3/4 at Bury Bolton Street Station (it's also worth a look at the other activities, including Day Out With Thomas). 21 July & 2 September, tickets from £18

Museum of Transport in Cheetham Hill With a collection of heritage buses and other transport curios to make an transport obsessive swoon, plus a dinky cafe with old-school treat. Look out for free bus rides around the city on certain days. Open Wednesdays and weekends, adults £5, kids free

Portland Basin Museum Housed within the restored nineteenth-century Ashton Canal Warehouse in Ashton-under-Lyne, Portland Basin Museum is a peaceful alternative to the bigger museums, with models and a play area featuring trains, plus the working water wheel in the canal basin. Open Tuesdays to Sundays 10am-4pm, entry is free

The Manchester Argonaut Fibreglass Sculpture 2021 2022 5  Image Courtesy Of Peoples History Museum
The Manchester Argonaut by Jason Wilsher-Mills Image: People's History Museum

Museums and History

Camouflage & Disguise at the Imperial War Museum North A new exhibition focusing on uncovering the secrets of camouflage with a fascinating trail focusing on illusion and disguise, including the Dazzle Design Studio, a hub of activities based around the infamous dazzle ships. Daily 26 July- 29 August Free

The People's Argonaut at the People's History Museum  A new sculpture by Jason Wilsher-Mills references the rich history and culture of Manchester and took its starting point from the city’s music. It's a great starting point from which to explore all this family-friendly museum has to offer. On display until 28 January 2024, entry is free

Summer at Manchester Jewish Museum Fun events for kids at this beautiful museum include baking challah and discovering the art of Marc Chagall. Designed for kids 7-13. Various dates and prices, visit website for details.

Creative Art Activities For Families And Kids Credit Jewish Museum
Always plenty to make and do Image: Manchester Jewish Museum

Creative & Arts

Picture This at The Lowry This free family exhibition will include illustrations and artwork from the six much-loved children’s books with a stage featuring daily readings of the featured books and many other titles, as well as performance, music-making and artist-led workshops.

Summer at the Science and Industry Museum Creativity is a huge theme at the Science and Industry Museum, with Drag Queen Design, weaving and textiles, flags and upcycling providing a focus. Check website for dates, free but book ahead

Refract:22 at Waterside Arts Centre Ten days of creativity from Sale's festival of the arts - of special interest to kids will be the Splat! performances which introduces questions about the nature of art in a messy, fun fashion, and Groove into the Woods, a pop music update of classic fairytale themes. 21-30 July, individual performances vary in price

The Lost World at HOME Playwrights Charlie Lee, Ellenor Percival and Joy Rogers teamed up with HOME Young Company to develop this play examining themes of climate change, recommend for 9+. There is a discussion with the writers after the Saturday matinee 12 and 13 August, pay what you can

Steam Punk Crafts at Central Library Why use boring old electricity when wind-up or steam power can do the job? Goggles on for this fun techno-Victoriana crafting session at the library. 10 August, free

Spellbound Forest Just So Festival 2021 Credit Andrew Allcock
The magic of storytelling at the Just So Festival Image: Andrew Allcock


bluedot at Jodrell Bank This meeting of science and music in the shadow of the Lovell Telescope always has tons of space-inspired fun for kids. Pro-tip - Friday is the very best day for families, with slightly less crowds and the most activities. 21-24 July, tickets from £35

Play Day Festival at Whitworth Park Lots of fun things to do at this event in celebration of Manchester City Council's Our Year programme, dedicated to the children of the city. 6 August, free entry 

Black Gold Arts at Whitworth Gallery This two-day outdoor music and arts festival showcasing the very best live music, DJs, dance, performance, and fashion from Black artists will appeal to older kids with plenty of family activities for younger siblings too. 6-7 August, free

Just So at Rode Hall Magical festival from the creative whirlwind that is Wild Rumpus. Dream up your own intricate costume and no, Asda won't cut it. 19-21 August, tickets from £25

Geronimo at Arley Hall This family festival has every type of entertainment for every age of child and you can camp, glamp or visit for the day. 27-29 August, tickets from £20

Main image: bluedot

Read next: Festa Italiana is back for August bank holiday

Read again: Open air festival style eating and drinking spots for summer

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