Football, fairytales and fright-fests - our pick of free or low-cost activities for this half term in Manchester
Boo! Half term can you creep up on you like a disembodied hand in an Evil Dead film, which is appropriate enough given that this week is littered with deliciously scary things to do. Not everyone likes those kinds of things though, so we’ve managed to find a sprinkling of events that swerve the spooky. And the least terrifying thing? Most of them are free. For some more grown-up jump-scares, head on over to our main Hallowe'en round up.
So get baking, learning, crafting or raving this half-term with our pick of the best family activities in Manchester.
THE LOST HAPPY ENDINGS | THE LOWRY | 22-23 OCTOBER
A topsy-turvy take on fairytales, where Hansel and Gretel escape from their own witch to open a vegan restaurant, Snow White doesn't marry the prince, but goes to live with the seven dwarves to study forestry and long-nosed liar Pinocchio becomes the prime minister. Sure to appeal to adults as well as children. Tickets from £9.
SCIENCE X | MANCHESTER CENTRAL LIBRARY | 23 & 25 OCTOBER
An interactive festival of exploration and experiments and a great chance for kids to discover the fun behind science and engineering. Appropriately in the run-up to COP26, this year’s Science X will focus on climate change and the environment around us. Look out for other events at the Library, including the Horrible Family Halloween Party. Science X is free.
KIDS GO FREE FOOTBALL| ALTRINCHAM FC | 26 OCTOBER
Altrincham are in the running for promotion to Football League (for the first time, after two rejections previously) and are offering under 12 free during half term (£5 for adults). Moss Lane is also one of the only grounds in the country with a full craft beer pop-up zone; complete with sausage naans and beer from Manchester's own Pomona, if the adults need persuading to go along.
FAMILY SEASON | ESCAPE TO FREIGHT ISLAND | 23 OCTOBER - 7 NOVEMBER
Families and kids can get raving together in a series of pre-noon parties that will showcase world-class kids DJs. Half term kicks off with a unique jungle family experience on Saturday 23 October – drum ‘n bass described as a "real rinse out" and "just this side of appropriate". Maybe leave Nan at home for that one. The next day will see The Rockin’ Rhinos, led by feline singer John Cooper Cat, bring their unique blend of rock 'n roll, comedy and animal costumes to play. It’s worth perusing further ahead for more family fun, such as a pyjama party and a Playhouse Project rave. Tickets from £7.
CAT-THEMED TRAIL AND CRAFTS | ELIZABETH GASKELL HOUSE | 24-31 OCTOBER
The whole family can explore the house using a new free activity trail, plus there are some cuddly cats to spot as you make your way around the house. Explore at your own pace to find the feline friends and discover each cat adorned by an outfit made by the volunteers, who have all had fun creating their literary-inspired ensembles. Under 16s are free with a paying adult.
THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA/MOG THE FORGETFUL CAT | Z-ARTS | THROUGHOUT OCTOBER
Join the Tiger for tea and hear the tale of his surprise visit to Sophie and her mummy. Just try not to eat all the sandwiches and paws off Daddy's beer! This exhibition, created by Discover Children’s Story Centre, explores the popular works of beloved children’s author, Judith Kerr. Tickets £8 or £30 for a family ticket.
GET CURIOUS | MUSEUM OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY | 26 & 27 OCTOBER
The Museum of Science and Industry has restarted its Get Curious event, designed to entertain and inform on all matters STEM (that’s Science, Technology Engineering and Maths, grandad). On 26 October, you can get involved with fun activities and games from the STEM Ambassadors while learning all about the body. Or, in keeping with the Halloween vibes, on 27 October the theme is all things blood, including what’s in it, how it is pumped around our body and more with staff and students from Manchester Metropolitan University. Free.
CHILDREN’S FOOTBALL WRITING FESTIVAL | NATIONAL FOOTBALL MUSEUM| 28 OCTOBER
Budding Barney Ronays can join this youngster’s version of the adult’s Football Writing Festival, including skills workshops, talks from special guests and promised “bundle of goodies". The Children's Football Writing Festival activities are included as part of the admission ticket.
SPOOKY SCAVENGER HUNT | THE WHITWORTH | 30 OCTOBER
Explore Whitworth Park whilst solving a series of spooky clues, with this trail created in collaboration with City of Trees. If you’re feeling creative you can grab some apples and paints and create a spooky scene. Children (and hey, no one is stopping the adults) are encouraged to dress up in their best frightening outfits. Meet at 12pm by the Parkside reception desk. Free but register beforehand.
COOKIE BAKING | MANCHESTER JEWISH MUSEUM | 31 OCTOBER
Families can get together to can bake their own stained-glass cookies, inspired by the gorgeous windows at the Manchester Jewish Museum. No experience necessary – perfect for baking beginners. You even get to take home what you bake. From £4.
HALLOWEEN AT GRUB | GRUB FOOD FAIR | 28-31 OCTOBER
With pumpkin carving on Thursday 28 October (£8 per family, pumpkins supplied plus treats, Family Friday with a terrible twist… (spooky story-time, outdoor play activities, Hallowe’en themed Crafternoon, indoor playroom, film screening and more) and a specially themed dumpling workshop on 31 October, we'd say Grub has got Halloween well and truly covered.
HALLOWEEN IN THE CITY | VARIOUS CITY CENTRE LOCATIONS |30 & 31 OCTOBER
A massive monster party hits the city’s streets – with monsters around every corner. There’s a giant rooftop monster invasion, Walk the Plank’s monster parade, a mad scientist’s exploded castle and pop-up lab, fairground fun at the Carnival of Monsters, spooky specials from CBeebies and CBBC, and a monstrous photo trail across the city centre.
HOCUS POCUS| THE BEAGLE | 31 OCTOBER
We can’t trail this any more effectively than The Beagle did themselves when they wrote: “I'm not saying ditch ‘em in front of a film and sink a couple of pints before taking ‘em trick of treating, but I'm not not saying ditch ‘em in front of a film and sink a couple of pints before taking ‘em trick of treating.” A double feature night with Hocus Pocus as the early showing kids film from 4pm. Free (though you may spend money on beer).
HALLOWEEN HUB | STRETFORD FOODHALL | 31 OCTOBER
Stretford Foodhall will be given a spooky makeover on the last day of half-term to celebrate the scariest day of the year. Families are invited to come in fancy dress too and there'll be spot prizes for those the best dressed throughout the day, plus kids’ face painting, a ghoulish colouring-in competition and spooky tunes played all day for a family-friendly disco.
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