Whether it’s heartwarming children’s theatre, once-in-a-lifetime lunch dates with aquatic creatures or unravelling the greatest secrets of the universe, Manchester’s May half-term schedule offers a diverse, dazzling array of family-friendly events and entertainment to guarantee the perfect day out for parents and children alike.

Here are some of the best half term events taking place around Manchester in May.

For more school holiday activity inspiration, check out our guides to the best day trips, the best outdoor adventure parks and the best Green Flag-status spaces around Greater Manchester.

Science and Industry Museum | Sat 25 May-Sun 2 Jun | £Various (Free general admission)

From Sat 25 May-Sun 2 Jun, the Science and Industry Museum hosts a fascinating programme of family fun and educational entertainment inspired by the blockbuster world-premiere exhibition, Operation Ouch! Food, Poo and You, alongside its mesmerising year-round galleries and ongoing installations.

Open until Sun 9 Jun, the gleefully gross Operation Ouch! brings the hit BBC Children’s TV series to life and celebrates the silliness of science in an immersive journey through a super-sized human digestive system. Gastronomic adventurers can experience the wacky and wonderful inner functions of the body by travelling from the mouth to the ‘exit’ as a poo, playing a variety of gut-churning games and conducting educational experiments along the way.

Throughout the holiday, budding doctors can bring their furry friends to the museum’s Teddy Hospital to learn about our amazing anatomy, and how to take care of every bone and organ with fun puzzles and challenges across the Department of Heads, Department of Hearts, Department of Bones and the Department of Bottoms.

Elsewhere, the expert Explainers are on hand to illuminate the captivating secrets of science with an interactive live show, while ‘ultimate gaming experience’ Power Up continues to delight visitors with a sprawling selection of playable titles spanning fifty years of video game magic, from nostalgic arcade favourites to cutting-edge VR systems. Book an annual pass and get unlimited access to Power Up in Manchester for a whole year for just £15.

Check out the Science and Industry Museum’s full Brilliant Bodies half term programme and book your visit below.

The Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Rd, Manchester, M3 4FP
Heaton Park | Sun 26 May-Sat 1 Jun | 11am-3pm | FREE

Boasting ‘#sevendaysofstufftodo’ throughout the half term week, Heaton Park hosts a fun-filled programme of free events, activities and workshops for all ages from 11am to 3pm, including family-friendly cinema in the classroom, nature explorations, board games, colouring sessions and even a chance to meet the park’s animals.

Sheepfoot Ln, Manchester M25 0DL
Disney's Aladdin | Palace Theatre | Wed 22 May - Sun 7 Jul | 1pm, 2.30pm, 6pm, 7.30pm | From £20

Set to the iconic original score by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, the smash-hit Broadway and West End production of the classic Disney film arrives at the Palace Theatre on Wed 22 May for a six-week run.

Ideal for families with children aged 6 and above, the timeless tale follows the courageous young street urchin who discovers a wisecracking genie inside a magic lamp and, armed with three wishes and endless possibilities, embarks on a spellbinding journey to win the heart of Princess Jasmine and thwart the sinister sorcerer Jafar, as the talented cast perform sing-a-long favourites like Prince Ali, Friend Like Me and A Whole New World.

97 Oxford St, Manchester, M1 6FT
Jodrell Bank | Fri 24 May-Sun 2 Jun | £10-£14

From A Whole New World to the stars beyond, world-renowned astronomy hub Jodrell Bank whisks visitors on an intergalactic odyssey across the universe with a breathtaking programme of space-faring events and activities from Fri 24 May-Sun 2 Jun.

The brand new science show Curious Kids: Solar System Spectacular takes aspiring astronauts beyond the Milky Way with illuminating experiments, interactive quizzes and more, while the Space Pavilion hosts a series of craft workshops in which cosmo kids can design their own rockets as the Explainer team are on hand to shed light on the biggest mysteries of the universe.

Throughout half term, new temporary installation Time is Running Out explores the most urgent questions faced by climate scientists and engineers, as our brightest minds seek to plot a sustainable course into the future with a range of groundbreaking solutions.

Check out the full programme and book your visit below.

Jodrell Bank, Bomish Ln, Macclesfield SK11 9DW, Tel: 01477 571766
VIP Turtle Feeding | SEALife Trafford | Until Jan 2025 | £75 for 2

Running during half term and continuing all year, SEALife Manchester presents a bucket-list opportunity to feed its resident turtles Ernie and Cammy in an awe-inspiring VIP experience for aquatic enthusiasts aged 8 and above.

Join a member of the animal care team and enjoy the lunch of a lifetime while learning about Manchester’s only giant green sea turtles before exploring the rest of the aquarium.

Trafford Palazzo, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester, M17 8AS, Tel: 0161 749 2875
Family Garden Festival | RHS Bridgewater | Sat 25 May-Sun 2 Jun | £7.95-£41.95

Featuring endless garden trails in bloom, storytelling sessions and a dazzling array of botanical excitement, RHS Bridgewater’s week-long Family Garden Festival invites kids and grown-ups alike to revel in the wonder of world-class horticulture with a series of engaging, accessible events guaranteed to ignite a lifelong love of horticulture.

Occupation Rd, Worsley, Manchester M28 2LJ
The Very Hungry Caterpillar | The Lowry | Wed 29 May-Sat 1 Jun | 11am, 1.30pm | From £21.50

Hailed as ‘Colourful, charming, perfect for children’ by London Theatre, The Very Hungry Caterpillar reimagines Eric Carle’s beloved story of a charmingly voracious larvae with a vibrant menagerie of 75 puppets. Alongside the titular tale, acclaimed theatre company Rockerfeller Productions also presents enchanting stage versions of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, 10 Little Rubber Ducks and The Very Busy Spider.

Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ, Tel: 0161 876 2000
The Selfish Giant | Waterside Arts | Sat 25 - Sun 26 May | 11am, 2pm, 4pm | £10.50-£12.50

Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s delicate, profoundly stirring story of understanding and self-acceptance, Tiny & Tall and Soap Soup Theatre present a entrancing puppetry-based exploration of love and friendship through the tale of a crabby, hardened giant who lives alone in her icy, walled-off house, ignoring a world which discarded her and left her in exile. One day, a group of children find a loose fixture in the giant’s garden wall and climb through, irrevocably changing both theirs and the giant’s lives forever.

1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, Trafford, M33 7ZF
The Manchester Flower Festival | Fri 24-Sun 27 May | FREE

Located at various spots around the city centre, The Manchester Flower Festival brings a carnival of colourful flora to town with a weekend of professionally designed plant displays each themed around local legends, from the sandy landscapes of Boddingtons Blooms and botanical recreations of the Afflecks mosaics to a monochromatic Hacienda Garden and a touching tribute to Caroline Aherne, created by Liv Woodward in partnership with iconic Mancunian artist Stanley Chow.

Check out the full Manchester Flower Festival programme below.

Various locations
Fri 24 May - Sun 2 Jun
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Mon 27 May 2024