Festive listings for December including theatre, festive gigs and a winter wonderland
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And don’t just take our word for it, we’ve got a list to prove it. Manchester is pulling out all the stops this Christmas with an impressive selection of Christmas markets, ice rinks and pantomimes. Just some of the roundups we’ve written before even getting to our December round-up.
Elsewhere there’s plenty of theatre, from classics to modern, some choice live music selections, wreath making and even some steam train action. Of course, December isn’t just for Christmas, so we’ve made sure to pack some New Year’s inspiration into this month’s things-to-do stocking to ensure you’re not twiddling your thumbs. Never the Hootenanny.
Here's our round-up of things to do in the festive month of December.
WHITE CHRISTMAS | PALACE THEATRE | 22 NOVEMBER - 4 DECEMBER
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a classic and this year’s comes in the form of timeless wholesome romantic comedy, White Christmas. Running from late November to early December at the Palace as part of a UK tour, Irving Berlin’s production includes Sheila Ferguson (former lead singer of chart toppers, The Three Degrees) as character Martha Watson and Dan Burton (Jersey Boys, Chicago, Legally Blonde) as Phil Davis.
Palace Theatre, 97 Oxford St, Manchester M1 6FT
THE WIZ |MANCHESTER HOPE MILL THEATRE | 24 NOVEMBER – 16 JANUARY
If you fancy a change from the annual Xmas day showing of The Wizard of Oz, Hope Mill Theatre is putting on the first UK-based production of The Wiz since 2011. With music and lyrics from Charlie Smalls and choreography by Leah Hill, this re-make of the Judy Garland classic has a little extra funk, soul and rhythm thanks to its toe-tapping score and dynamic cast of characters.
Hope Mill, 113 Pollard St, Manchester M4 7JA
A CHRISTMAS CRACKER | DUCIE STREET WAREHOUSE | 26 NOVEMBER – 24 DECEMBER
Running throughout the Crimbo countdown, Ducie Street Warehouse’s "A Christmas Cracker" calendar consists of several different interactive and inclusive events. With everything from a disco wreath workshop to Mini Cini Christmas specials, this month-long Xmas do includes festive pop-up shops, a culinary masterclass with chef Andrew Green, and Santa’s first-ever airdrop Christmas prezzy. With a special festive menu also available from 15 November until 23 December, you can tuck into some turkey and goose fat tatties before heading over to your Gospel choir gig.
Ducie Street Warehouse, Ducie St, Manchester M1 2TP
PETER PAN | OCTAGON THEATRE | 26 NOVEMBER - 9 JANUARY
Pack your bags, you’re going to Neverland. But don’t worry, all your favourites will be there including Pete himself, the boys lost, Wendy and of course the terrifying Captain Hook. This Christmas Bolton’s Octagon Theatre will host the festive favourite, a fun-filled retelling of the classic J.M Barrie tale with added mischief, music and of course magic. Wholesome family stuff and a good opportunity to check out the newly refurbed Octagon in all of its glory.
Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft S, Bolton BL1 1SB
YANKL & DER BEANSTALK | MANCHESTER JEWISH MUSEUM | 2 DECEMBER
Part of the Manchester Jewish Museum’s Synagogue nights creative programme, prepare to be transported to the magical lands of Brick Lane as Yankl & Der Beanstalk presents an “infectiously fun take on the Yiddish pantomime” with an LGBTQ+ twist. The modern take on the classic, very much aimed at adults, tells the story of a lowly pickle seller, who, you guessed it, swaps his supplies for magic beans. Expect musical numbers and lots of audience interaction too against the glorious Grade II backdrop of the museum’s Spanish synagogue. Tickets start at £6.
Manchester Jewish Museum,190 Cheetham Hill Rd, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M8 8LW
SANTA SPECIALS | EAST LANCS RAILWAY | NOVEMBER 27-28, DECEMBER 4, 5, 11, 12, 18-24
If you’ve found yourself asking of late: what would popular online trainspotting personality Francis Bourgeois approve of this Christmas in the Greater Manchester area? The East Lancs Railway Santa Specials trains would no doubt get him laughing excitably among the steam and tones. Comfy carriages will be draped in lighting and decorations, Santa and his elves will be there and those on the nice list may well get mince pies and festive tipples). Tickets start from £20.
East Lancs Railway, 23A Bolton St, Bury BL9 0EY
DECEMBER DJ SETS | THE LOFT | 3 – 4 DECEMBER
DJs Ethel, Melody, Sugar Free, Charlotte, Raresh, and R.O.Y are bringing us two events in early December that’ll kick off your advent with some tunes and two-stepping. Hosted by underground venue The Loft, these events are kitted out with a Funktion-One soundsystem and some guaranteed good vibes. Kicking off with a French female vinyl-only collective and ending with some Romanian tech-house, give yourself a break from Mariah Carey and Shakin Stevens before the season truly starts.
The Loft, 13 Quay St, Manchester M3 3HN
A VERY QUEER CHRISTMAS 2021 – BRING IN THE LIGHT |MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL|4 DECEMBER
Exploring a time of year that can be “as joyous as it is difficult” for the queer community, A Very Queer Christmas features music by Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell, spoken word poetry and readings from the likes of Jackie Kay, and a world premiere performance by Ellie Showering. Hosted by Steve Hilton and with a whole line-up of special guests (including a performance from prestigious choir The Sunday Boys), the annual celebration is a joyous community event.
Manchester Cathedral, Victoria St, Manchester M3 1SX
NORTHERN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA WITH VIOLINIST CHLOË HANSLIP | STOLLER HALL| 4-5 DECEMBER
Celebrated violinist Chloë Hanslip made her BBC Proms debut at just 14 years old. She will join the formidable Northern Chamber Orchestra in this performance of Shostakovich's violin sonata. One to get your glad rags on for at the beautiful Stoller Hall. If you fancy popping over to Cheshire for something a bit more Xmassy, the Northern Chamber Orchestra also has a Xmas concert at Tatton Park on 10 December with festive music including Sleigh Ride and the Overture from Hansel and Gretel, film music such as the themes from Harry Potter and E.T., and audience carols if you like a bit of a singalong.
The Stoller Hall, Hunts Bank, Manchester M3 1DA
GREAT NORTHERN CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR | ONLINE | 4 – 5 DECEMBER
If you’ve missed the Black Friday sales and the thought of the Christmas markets makes your skin crawl, the Great Northern Contemporary Art Fair is back with a whole host of festive gifts, useful crafts, and local Manchester makers. With everything from ceramics and glassware to jewellery, furniture, and textiles, Great Northern has got your nice list covered with this weekend-long online bonanza.
Great Northern Warehouse, 235 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN
THE FROST FAIR | THE WHITWORTH | 4 - 5 DECEMBER
This year the Frost Fair is back at The Whitworth and it brings with it a free programme of exciting music, entertainment, workshops and even an outdoor cinema. The completely free event (did we mention it’s free?) will include international food pop-ups and seasonal alcohol and alcohol-free stores with the likes of PINS, MC Kwasi, House of Ghetto and The Playhouse Project ft. Disco Moms are just some of the eclectic entertainment on offer. Spaces for the indoor activities will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.
The Whitworth, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER
SILCOCK’S WINTER WONDERLAND | EVENTCITY | 4 DECEMBER – 2 JANUARY
Transforming Event City into a Trafford-based Lapland, Silcock’s Winter Wonderland is the UK’s largest indoor festive theme park with over 50 rides and attractions and a shed load of real reindeer. If a room filled with elves, fairies and sickly sweets isn’t enough to flip your seasonal switch, then the venue also has dodgems, roller coasters, carousels and waltzers. Needless to say, the big man will be there for photo ops.
EventCity, Phoenix Way Off, Barton Dock Rd, Manchester M41 7TB
THE STRANGE UNDOING OF PRUDENCIA HART | THE ROYAL EXCHANGE THEATRE | 4 DECEMBER – 15 JANUARY
From award-winning writer David Greig, this tale of snow, sambuca, and the winter solstice is bringing Scottish folk songs and decadent karaoke to the Royal Exchange throughout the advent season. Described as a show that “oozes with wit, passion and seduction”, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart is directed by international star Debbie Hannan and stars actor, writer, and director Joanne Thomson as they tell a tale of small-town flings and folk traditions. An underworld alternative to the traditional panto.
Royal Exchange, Old Bank St, Manchester, M2 7PE
FESTIVE HAPPENING WITH AMC GOSPEL CHOIR AND MANCHESTER CAMERATA | THE ALBERT HALL |12 DECEMBER
One of the country’s most loved gospel choirs is teaming up with Manchester Camerata for an evening of uplifting yuletide tunes and incredible acoustics. The choir has previously appeared on Songs of Praise (a mark of quality in choir circles) and performed alongside the likes of Take That and Leona Lewis. Turkey and cranberry sauce levels of Christmas collaboration.
Albert Hall, City Centre, 27 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR
WREATH MAKING WORKSHOP | PLATT FIELDS MARKET GARDEN | 11 DECEMBER
As well as its Winter Markets, which we implore you to attend, MUD and Platt Fields Market Garden will also be putting on wreath making classes over the coming month. The classes, which will take place in the garden’s homely Frog House workshop space will teach you how to make your own wreath using sustainably foraged materials. Places are limited to get on them quick. If you’re on the hunt for other wreath-making opportunities, Breadflower at Kampus, Wandering Palate in Monton, Escape to Freight Island, the Trafford Centre and Great Northern Warehouse all have workshops throughout December.
Platt Fields Market Garden Platt Fields Park, Fallowfield, Manchester M14 6LT
DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS AMAZING CAT | CONTACT | 11 DECEMBER - 3 JANUARY
We’ve waxed lyrical about Contact theatre in recent months. If you still haven’t experienced first-hand the innovative creative output of the young theatre and its newly renovated space, get yourself down to its reimagining of Dick Whittington this Christmas. Running until the start of January, the modern take on a classic is an all-singing, all-dancing certified hit for children and adults alike. Tickets start from £20.
Contact, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6JA
THE APEX SINGERS | STOLLER HALL | 12 DECEMBER
If you love a bit of acapella, The Apex Singers are at Stoller Hall this month bringing the festive vibes through their innovative vocals and unique arrangements. The show will include festive faves from their Snowed In EP as well arrangements and songs from their award-winning album Hiraeth. Tickets start at £10.
The Stoller Hall, Hunts Bank, Manchester M3 1DA
ADAM KAYE: TWAS THE NIGHT SHIFT BEFORE CHRISTMAS | THE LOWRY | 13 DECEMBER
Arriving in Manchester after rave national reviews, Adam Kaye brings his hospital tales to The Lowry with a Christmas special that promises stories of the people who spend their festive season on the front line, “removing babies and baubles from the places that get stuck.” The best-selling author of This Is Going To Hurt will bring a live show of award-winning comedy with festive snippets from his time working on the NHS frontline. Tickets start at £27.50.
The Lowry, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ
JACK WHITEHALL WITH MICHAEL AND HILARY: HOW TO SURVIVE CHRISTMAS|O2 APOLLO MANCHESTER|14 DECEMBER
Off the back of a load of sell-out shows Jack Whitehall and his ‘rents Hilary and Michael are heading to Manchester to give audiences some handy tips and witty advice for the holiday season. Sparked by their bestseller How to Survive Family Holidays, this family affair lays out “the perils, pitfalls and even the joys” of family get-togethers. So if you’re also dreading a boxing day quiz at the mother-in-law's, make the whole affair a bit less painful with a night of laughs and light-hearted detestation before the mayhem commences.
O2 Apollo, Stockport Rd, Manchester M12 6AP
SLADE | O2 RITZ | 19 DECEMBER
It’sss, almost, wait for it, Christmasss. And nothing says peak Christmas like going to see Slade six days before the big day. Granted, we’re sad to say that Noddy Holder is no longer a member of the band (wait, what?!) but hey, hits are hits and as far as festive bucket list items go, this one’s a tick. Smash a few mulled wines and you won’t even notice. Tickets start at £28.50.
The Ritz, Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5NQ
GRAND CHRISTMAS CLASSICS WITH ALAN TITCHMARSH | THE BRIDGEWATER HALL | 20 DECEMBER
If your local Christmas carol crew don’t quite make the cut, then a concert hosted by a TV gardener with a side of O Come, All Ye Faithful might just hit the spot. Hosted by The Bridgewater Hall for one night and one night only, this Grand Christmas Classics event features all the festive bangers, readings, and traditional carols under one auditorium roof presented by Alan Titchmarsh and conducted by Toby Purser.
The Bridgewater Hall, Lower Mosley St, Manchester M2 3WS
GLOW 2021|RHS GARDEN BRIDGEWATER|17 NOVEMBER – 30 DECEMBER
Scheduling in a real Christmas glow-up for 2021, the RHS Garden Bridgewater is allowing visitors to “bask in the glow” of festive fairy lights and massive moonlit installations with its Glow event throughout December. With a trail of illuminations, water features, a Weston Walled Garden, and a selection of hot drinks and festive treats, this ain't no ordinary trip to the garden centre.
RHS Garden Bridgewater, Occupation Rd, Worsley, Manchester M28 2LJ
New Year's Eve
Although your December diary is probably packed with festive theatre and cathedral choirs, here’s a quick heads up on some things to do for New Year's Eve. Set to sell out quick, these events are worth copping a ticket for in advance, just to make sure your countdown isn’t spent crying into a box of Quality Street.
If a proper night out is on the cards, several pubs, clubs, and bars are hosting New Year’s soirees including The Warehouse Project, Albert Hall, CARGO, The King’s Arms, The Blues Kitchen, Albert’s Schloss, 02 Ritz,King Street Townhouse, The Bread Shed and 02 Victoria Warehouse.
As for foodie fun, some of your fave spots are offering up New Year’s dinners and drinks such as The Midland Hotel, Flight Club, The Refuge, 20 Stories, The Lowry Hotel, James Martin Manchester, Australasia, YOURS, and Peter Street Kitchen.
Don't miss out
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