Whether you’d rather be poring over mystifying Ancient Egyptian mummies or strolling rapt through an enormous bile duct while picturing yourself as human waste, Manchester offers a broad and mercifully affordable selection of incredible family-friendly exhibitions to entertain the kids – and effortlessly win over the parents – throughout the Summer Holidays.

Here are some of the best:


Batteries Not Included | The National Football Museum | Wed 12 Jul - Sun 25 Feb 2024 | £0-£13 (Admission)

Running until Feb 2024, the National Football Museum’s Batteries Not Included charts the history and development of football toys and games, and their profound influence on our core childhood memories and broader understanding of the beautiful game. Featuring 17 interactive games and exhibits including updated classic pastimes, a variety of arcade games and the generation-bridging tabletop nostalgia of Subbuteo, the National Football Museum’s latest exhibition transports visitors from the Victorian Era to the present day through the evolution of football-based games and the cultural influences which shaped them throughout.

Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, M4 3BG, Tel: 0161 605 8200
Operation Ouch! Food, Poo and You | The Science and Industry Museum | Fri 21 Jul - Sun 9 Jun 2024 | From £9

Opening on Fri 21 Jul, the Science and Industry Museum brings the smash-hit educational BBC Children’s TV series to life with an unforgettable journey of super-sized science. Beginning at the mouth, visitors travel through the body ‘as a poo’, embarking on a uniquely immersive and gleefully gross odyssey through the human digestive system with Dr. Chris, Dr. Xand and Dr. Ronx – who will pop up digitally throughout the exhibition – passing a range of interactive activities and displays designed to illuminate the science of our inner ‘poo-duction’ line.

Inspired by the exhibition, the Science and Industry Museum will explore the incredible world of our brilliant bodies with a summer long programme of free family fun.

From Sat 22 Jul to Sun 3 Sep, mini medical professionals are invited bring their favourite fluffy friends to Teddy Hospital and discover more about how our bodies work across the Department of Bones, Department of Hearts, Department of Heads and, of course, the Department of Poo.

The Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Rd, Manchester, M3 4FP
Julia and Axel: Thirty Years of Favourite Stories | The Lowry | Sat 22 Jul - Mon 1 Jan 2024 | FREE

Developed in collaboration with MacMillan Children’s Books and Scholastic, the Lowry presents a brand new exhibition celebrating the longstanding partnership between writer Julia Donaldson and illustrator Alex Scheffler, whose sparkling creative alchemy has produced some of the world’s best-selling, best-loved children’s books, including The Gruffalo, Zog, Room on the Broom, The Smeds and more.

Free to attend, the exhibition offers a fascinating insight into the magical paired process, with several of Donaldson’s personal writing notebooks on display alongside Scheffler’s artwork at different stages, including the final versions seen in published books. There will also be an array of engaging activities for kids to cultivate their creative side, with story-writing, drawing, dress-up and games inspired by the books.

Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ, Tel: 0161 876 2000
Power UP | The Science and Industry Museum | Sat 22 Jul - Sun 3 Sep | £6-8

Open daily from Sat 22 July until Sun 3 Sep, hands-on gaming exhibition Power UP welcomes parental players and prodigious gamers alike to ‘revel in the very best video games’ over the summer, with over 160 consoles and hundreds of classic playable titles from fifty years of electronic adventure at your fingertips.

From 8-bit favourites like Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario, Pac Man and Pong to industry-changing games on the PS4 and latest-gen virtual reality systems, Power UP offers the perfect cross-generational summer break bonding experience during which kids and grown-ups can discover – and rediscover – the wonder of gaming. In addition to the interactive area, Power UP features a section dedicated to the Manchester-based developers and companies who have transformed the city into a nerve centre of the global gaming industry.

Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Rd, Manchester, M3 4FP
MegaCon Live | Manchester Central | Sat 29 Jul - Sun 30 Jul | £16.50-£37

Billed as the ‘ultimate Pop Culture show’, MegaCon and Kidtropolis combines games, anime, movies, manga, cosplay, play areas, Yu-Gi-Oh, TokFEST – ask the kids – and much, much more to create an unparalleled wonderland of digital delight and complete sensory overload for Gen-Z and below. Taking over Manchester Central for a whole weekend of indecipherable mayhem, MegaCon also promises a lineup of celebrity special guests, with several already announced.

Tickets are available now, and under-10s can attend for free.

Windmill St, Manchester M2 3GX, Tel: 0161 834 2700
Golden Mummies of Egypt | Manchester Museum | Sat 18 Feb - Sun 31 Dec | FREE

Located in Manchester Museum‘s brand new exhibition hall, a space dedicated to hosting ambitious installations which examine past, present and future, the wildly popular Golden Mummies of Egypt introduces families with children of all ages to the fathomless wonder of Ancient Egypt with over 100 artefacts and 8 breathtakingly well-preserved sarcophagi.

While guaranteed to ignite a lifelong love of history for kids around the city, the exhibition also promises to captivate grown-ups with nuanced, thorough explorations of the unique perspectives on the afterlife held during the little-known Graeco-Roman period.

University of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester, M13 9PL, Tel: 0161 275 2648
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Wed 9 Aug 2023