Having enjoyed our annual allocation of modest sunshine for three days earlier this month, with little forecast for another globally derided heatwave in the immediate future, a selection of Manchester’s best museums, theatres and kids’ entertainment venues offer a merciful escape from the driving summer rain with a wide array of cheap, fun-filled indoor activities and events for families with children of all ages.

Here are some of the best indoor activities around Manchester this summer.

Wild | Manchester Museum | Wed 5 Jun - Sun 1 Jun 2025 | FREE

Running daily until next June, Manchester Museum’s breathtaking new exhibition Wild follows the runaway success of Golden Mummies of Egypt to explore our precarious but optimistic relationship with nature, taking over the Exhibition Hall with a fascinating look at the ways in which people around the world are rebuilding our connections with a planet in jeopardy.

Featuring an immersive installation, audio, film and interactive elements, as well as an array of natural history collections and artworks, Wild invites visitors on an expedition across our world’s diverse topography and hear a wide array of voices, from Aboriginal elders to academic researchers, to champion the innovative methods used to restore biodiversity and shape a sustainable future environment while challenging how we think about and interact with the environment.

Throughout August, the museum hosts a line-up of free creative activities inspired by the exhibition. Each week, families with children aged 7 and above can use different art forms to explore the wonder of our natural world, with sessions including paper globe mobile-making, plasticine painting, collaging and more.

University of, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PL
Baby Week @ Little Northerners | Great Northern Warehouse | Mon 8-Sat 13 Jul | FREE

From Mon 8 Jul, The Great Northern’s free parent-and-toddler play space hosts an engaging programme of daytime events in The Village Hall, ideal for restless babies on a rainy afternoon.

Beginning with a Sound Session launch event, the Little Northerners Baby Week schedule includes a heuristic play event which teaches how to use household items to create moments of joy and inspiration, as well as a drop-in Stay and Play session with no booking required.

Find out more about Baby Week in Manchester here.

235 Deansgate, M3 4EN
Summer at the Science and Industry Museum | Sat 20 Jul-Sun 1 Sep | FREE

From Sat 20 Jul to Sun 1 Sep, visitors to the Science and Industry Museum can enjoy a dizzying variety of hands-on entertainment, live science shows and fascinating installations without spending a penny.

In the interactive Experiment gallery, families can explore the mind-bending magic of science brought to life with glow-in-the-dark art, thermal camera heat vision, shadow walls and more, before heading to the Textiles Gallery and Revolution Manchester to learn about the machines and people which made Manchester the first industrial city, and its proud history of world-changing ideas.

Open daily throughout the holidays, Power Up invites parents and children to try out hundreds of iconic video game titles across over 160 consoles, from first-generation 80s arcade machines to cutting-edge VR headsets.

Elsewhere, the museum hosts a range of pop-up events and activities, including a celebration of Manchester Pride which honours LGBTQ+ stories in the Conversation Space display from Thu 22-Wed 28 Aug.

Visitors can also check out the brand new exhibition Injecting Hope: The Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine, which celebrates the Herculean efforts of scientists around the globe who worked tirelessly to end the pandemic, with inspirational stories of resolve and collaboration as told through artwork, video and significant objects from the initiative.

Liverpool Road, Manchester, M3 4FP
Summer at Jodrell Bank | Tue 23 Jul - Sun 1 Sep | From £10 (£33 Family)

Throughout the school holidays, Jodrell Bank transports visitors on a mesmerising journey across the solar system and beyond with an action-packed indoor programme of creative workshops, immersive dome shows and interactive exhibitions.

Book your family pass below to enjoy a day of live science experiments, musical storytelling shows and the unmissable Dome Show The Great Solar System Adventure, as well as a regular series of talks delivered by field-leading experts across astronomy, physics and more every Tuesday afternoon.

Find out more here.

Bomish Ln, Cheshire, Macclesfield SK11 9DW
Euros: Wave Your Flag | National Football Museum | Free-£16 (admission)

Running every weekend throughout the Euros, the National Football Museum’s free drop-in craft session encourages visitors to create their own flags, taking inspiration from existing patterns to express their personality and imaginative flair with vibrant colour combinations and creative new designs, before hanging up their motif in the community goal net.

Wave Your Flag is free for visitors, and will take place every weekend in the Pitch Gallery between 11am and 3pm.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang | Palace Theatre | Until Sat 15 Mar 2025 | 2pm, 7pm | From £15

Starring Emmerdale’s Liam Fox as Grandpa Potts with choreography by Karen Bruce (BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, The Bodyguard), the brand new adaptation of the enchanting 1968 children’s film takes flight for a year-long run at the Palace Theatre, packed with spellbinding sing-a-long classics like Toot Sweets, Hushabye Mountain, Truly Scrumptious and the Academy Award-nominated titular tune, as scatter-brained inventor Cartacus Potts unwittingly restores a magical car and sets off on an adventure to distant realms with his friends in tow.

97 Oxford St, Manchester, M1 6FT
The 100 Story Hotel | Z-arts | Hulme | Until Thu 31 Oct | £9.98

Z-arts invites you to the wondrous, interactive narrative experience The 100 Story Hotel, an enchanting fictional world of magical stories and engaging play for families with children aged 1-8.

Devised in partnership with multi-award-winning bestselling author and illustrator Rob Biddulph alongside Discover Story Centre, The 100 Story Hotel offers families the chance become guests at this rather unusual establishment where children can explore their imagination through the world of Rob Biddulph’s books. Children and grown-ups alike can explore its countless secrets and meet its wild assortment of characters, from lions and tigers to dinosaurs and sausage dogs, as the guests and staff enlist your help to unpick the clues to find a story that’s mysteriously gone missing.

335 Stretford Rd, Hulme, Manchester M15 5ZA
Legoland | Trafford Palazzo | From £12

Open daily through the school holidays and beyond, Legoland Manchester invites families into a vibrant, absorbing world of endless wonder with everyone’s favourite building blocks at TraffordCity.

From the Ninjago City Adventure and a 1.5 million-brick Miniland to earthquake simulators, build-your-own-racecar thrills and even a 4D Cinema, creative kids and nostalgic parents alike can spend a memorable day exploring the limits of their imagination with tickets available in a range of combinations and multiple attraction passes.

Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Fri 5 Jul 2024