Featuring an array of incredible museum exhibitions, an endless supply of free Halloween entertainment and a mercifully expansive range of toddler-friendly daytime activities, Manchester has something for families of all ages and sizes throughout the October half-term holiday.

Here are some of the highlights:

Creaty a City of the Future | Science and Industry Museum | Sat 21 Oct - Sun 5 Nov | 10am-5pm | FREE

Throughout the holidays, the Science and Industry Museum invites visitors to ‘create a city of the future’ and explore the future of Manchester through a host of art, design and performance activities, including giant installations of city streets, sustainable decoration-making and craft sessions to examine the relationship between water and wellbeing.

Elsewhere, visitors can enjoy the museum’s incredible ongoing programme, from ‘ultimate gaming experience’ Power Up and Stephen Hawking at Work to the dazzling array of permanent galleries and the super-sized adventure through the human digestive system, Operation Ouch! Food, Poo & You.

Liverpool Rd, Manchester, M3 4FP
Elizabeth Gaskell's House | Sun 22 Oct - Thu 2 Nov | 11am-4.30pm | £7 (under-16s FREE)

Open from 11am – 4.30pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between Sun 22 Oct and Thu 2 Nov, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House welcomes parents and little horrors alike for a day of Halloween family fun at the home of the celebrated Victorian writer, with creepy craft activities including pinecone bat-making, colouring sessions and a Cranford the Cat trail throughout the house.

84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester, M13 9LW, Tel: 0161 273 2215
Prepare for lift-off | Jodrell Bank | 10am-5pm (Tue-Sun) | £8-£12 (under-4s FREE)

Running throughout half term and beyond, the North West’s world-famous space museum Jodrell Bank presents a programme of time-travelling wonder, expert explanations and immersive odysseys where families can explore the biggest questions of the universe.

Visitors can head into the breathtaking 360-degree Space Dome to watch awe-inspiring films like We Are Stars and CAP COM GO!, before checking out the iconic Lovell Telescope, learning the fundamentals of rocket science and meeting on-site experts to ask all their most burning cosmic questions.

When you book a ticket in advance, you can visit for FREE for an entire year. Click below to get yours.

Jodrell Bank, Bomish Ln, Cheshire, Macclesfield SK11 9DW, Tel: 01477 571766
Julia and Axel: Thirty Years of Favourite Stories | The Lowry | Until Mon 1 Jan 2024 | FREE

Running until New Year’s Day, the Lowry hosts a delightful family 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
Halloween Half-term Storytelling | Z Arts | Hulme | Tue 24, Thu 26 Oct | 11am | FREE

Join Hulme’s family-friendly creative hub for a morning of free scary storytelling, with spaces remaining for Tue 24 Oct and Thu 26 Oct (11am). Book using the link below to secure your spot before they go.

335 Stretford Road, Hulme, Manchester M15 5ZA, Tel: 0161 226 1912
Halloween in the City | Manchester City Centre | Sat 28 Oct - Sun 29 Oct

Taking place from morning until late across Sat 28 and Sun 29 Oct, Manchester’s Halloween in the City returns with another stacked annual programme of frightful family fun, including another urban rooftop monster invasion, the all-day Monsters Rock music festival, a creepy carnival on St. Ann’s Square, the hair-raising Hell-ter Skelter slide and the opening of the Cathedral Gardens ice rink with Scare Skate on Friday 27 Oct, as well as an unmissable Monsters Rock party procession led by Walk The Plank and an all-day Halloween market with a diverse array of traders.


Check out the link below for the full Halloween in the City schedule.

VIP Experiences at SeaLife Manchester | Trafford Palazzo | £27.50-£250 (Family)

For the aquatic experience of a lifetime, SeaLife Manchester offers a selection of incredible VIP packages to enjoy as a family, from hour-long snorkelling amongst over 1,000 sea creatures and swimming with sharks (ages 10+) to exclusive sharks-after-dark tours, mesmerising VR undersea journeys and even a lunch date with Cammie and Ernie, the aquarium’s resident giant green sea turtles.

To see the rest of the aquarium during half-term, book an advance ticket from £18.50.

Check out the full list of VIP experiences below.

Trafford Palazzo, Next to The Trafford Centre, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 8AS, Tel: 0161 749 2875
Batteries Not Included | The National Football Museum | Until Sun 25 Feb 2024 | 10am-5pm | £0-£13 (Admission)

Open every day throughout the holidays and during term time, the National Football Museum’s interactive Batteries Not Included exhibition charts the fascinating evolution of football toys and games, and their profound influence on our core childhood memories and changing conceptions of the beautiful game. Featuring seventeen playable games and interactive 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 entertainment and their unique circumstantial influences throughout history.

Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, M4 3BG, Tel: 0161 605 8200
Golden Mummies of Egypt | Manchester Museum | Until Sun 31 Dec | FREE

Located in Manchester Museum‘s new exhibition hall, a space dedicated to hosting ambitious installations which examine past, present and future, the smash-hit Golden Mummies of Egypt exhibit welcomes families with children of all ages to enocounter the wonder of Ancient Egypt with over 100 artefacts and 8 perfectly preserved sarcophagi.

While guaranteed to ignite a lifelong love of history for kids around the city, the exhibition also promises to captivate adults with nuanced, comprehensive examinations 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
Spookfest | Trafford Centre | Fri 13-Tue 31 Oct | £3.30-£22 (25 ride tokens)

Featuring hair-raising fairground rides including Rock Rage, Ghost Train and Extreme as well as a giant pumpkin tower, free face painting and a regular schedule of spectacularly scary circus shows at Gandeys Big Top, the Trafford Centre’s annual festival of family-friendly frights returns with an unrivalled Halloween experience led by an immersive cast of creepy characters.

The Trafford Centre, Dumplington, Manchester M17 8AA
RHS Bridgewater | Worsley | Sat 21 - Sun 29 Oct | 10am-6pm | FREE-£15.30

From Sat 21 – Sun 29 Oct, Worsley’s 156-acre garden idyll invites families to join in with a ‘spooktacular’ half-term programme featuring herb-planting workshops, clay pumpkin carving, interactive story-times, trick-or-treat craft classes and a Great Garden Adventure Trail for ages 3 to 6.

Check out the full schedule below.

Occupation Rd, Worsley, Manchester M28 2LJ, Tel: 0161 503 6100
Ancient Egyptian Art: Half-term Workshop | The Portico | Thu 26 Oct | 2pm | FREE

Suitable for parents and children alike, the Portico Library hosts a wondrously engaging drop-in Ancient Egyptian Art Workshop on Thu 26 Oct from 2-4pm. Led by Creative Society Manchester’s Sumayyah Eldin, the session will demonstrate the basics of papyrus-making and painting like an Egyptian, inspired by illustrations from the Portico’s collection, including breathtaking artworks by the great Italian explorer Belzoni, taken from his tour of Egypt in 1810.

57 Mosley St, Manchester M2 3HY, Tel: 0161 236 6785
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Fri 20 Oct 2023