As November chimes into December and children’s glassy-eyed festive wonder threatens to boil over into mutinous hyperactive carnage, Manchester’s family-friendly events schedule offers more than enough entertaining diversions to quell the excitement until 4.30am Christmas morning.

From immersive theatre in Sale to Santa meet-and-greets in Chadderton, here are some of the best family days out around the region this month.

The Man Who Wanted To Be A Penguin | Waterside Arts | Wed 30 Nov - Sat 31 Dec | £14/£12

Running at Sale’s Waterside Arts until New Year’s Eve, The Man Who Wanted To Be A Penguin brings family-friendly ‘playful energy’ and a mix of puppetry, music and song to follow the story of an extraordinary explorer whose journey to Antarctica celebrates ‘wild creativity and the joy of individuality’. For interactive daytime entertainment in South Manchester, you can book tickets to performances at 10.30am, 11am, 1.30pm or 2pm.

Waterside Arts, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, Trafford, M33 7ZF, Tel: 0161 912 5616
The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan | Opera House Manchester | Sat 10 Dec - Sat 31 Dec | 1pm, 2.30pm, 8pm, | From £13

Led by comedic superstar Jason Manford as Captain Hook alongside Britain’s Got Talent finalist Ben Nickless as Smee, The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan transports families on a swashbuckling journey to Neverland in a cavalcade of ‘amazing special effects, stunning sets, beautiful costumes and barrel-loads of laughter’, with performances at 1.30pm and 2pm throughout the month.

3 Quay St, Manchester, M3 3HP, Tel: 0333 009 5399
Santa's Specials with East Lancashire Railway | Bury | Sat 26 Nov - Sun 24 Dec | £23-£49.50

With Santa, his elves and a full brass band as fellow passengers, the East Lancashire Railway’s 80-minute Christmas voyage from Bury to Rawtenstall and back is the North West’s answer to the Polar Express. Beginning with a wonderland scene at Bury Bolton Street Station, the journey features a sing-a-long, a choice of soft drinks and a free gift for every child, a choice of somewhat stiffer drinks and a mince pie per adult, and an improved range of kids’ entertainment.

East Lancashire Railway runs several Santa’s Specials throughout the day – check out the timetable here.

The event also offers tickets to a Christmas Shuttle Bus from Heywood to Bury Bolton Street.

Bury, Lancashire, BL9 0EY, Tel: 0333 320 2830
Christmas on the Farm | Lancaster Park & Animal Farm | Chadderton | Sat 3 Dec - Sat 24 Dec | £6.50-£12.50

Alongside all the usual peerless family entertainment at Lancaster Park – a petting barn, a caterpillar ride, a pirate shootout, mini quad bikes, swings, slides, ziplines and, somehow, much more – the farm hosts a Christmas extravaganza from 9am-3.30pm on selected dates throughout December. With a team Elves on hand along the way, Guests can join Mrs. Claus for stories in her Cosy Cottage, take a seat in Santa’s life-sized sleigh and meet him in person with a small gift included for every child.

Middleton Road West, Chadderton, Oldham, OL1 2TG
Hallé Family Christmas Concert at the Bridgewater Hall | Lower Mosley Street | Sun 4 Dec | 11am | £17.50-£69.50

Part of their fabulously diverse Christmas programme, the world-famous Hallé Orchestra presents an engaging festive song-and-dance performance on the morning of Sun 4 Dec, which enlists an audience of Santa’s Little Helpers in a wild race against time to recover the map he lost on a practice run of his Christmas delivery route.

Lower Mosley Street Manchester, M2 3WS, Tel: 0161 907 9000
Dave Gibb's Family Jukebox | The Stoller Hall | Sun 11 Dec | 4pm | £8/£35

With plenty of audience interaction and musical influences ranging from rock to reggae, David Gibb’s Family Jukebox proves parents and children alike with a wonderfully entertaining afternoon of singing and dancing, as Gibb transports guests through his expansive imagination ‘where wolves roam the school corridors, dragons live under the bed and teddy bears dance the night away at the disco’.

Hunts Bank, Manchester, M3 1DA, Tel: 0333 130 0967
RNCM Christmas Family Day: The Gruffalo | RNCM | Sun 18 Dec | 11am | From £12

Offering a casual, serene atmosphere with a range of performances, creative activities and ‘festive family fun’ throughout the day until around 4pm, the RNCM host a screening of children’s classic The Gruffalo backed by a world-renowned live orchestra.

124 Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9RD, Tel: 0161 907 5200
Lightopia | Heaton Park | Thu 24 Nov - Mon 2 Jan | Every half hour, 5pm-8pm | From £11

With interactive exhibits, spellbinding installations and an enchanting illuminated trail, award-winning lantern and light festival Lightopia returns to Heaton Park with an audiovisual feast full of brand new features, an immersive water show and themes of hope and rebirth represented by their world-famous Phoenix.

Middleton Rd, Manchester M25 2SW, Tel: 0161 773 1085
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Thu 1 Dec 2022