Discover exciting days-out around Manchester this half term with plenty of family-friendly things to do, from hypnotic light effects to chugging steam trains to free ski sessions. Even better, these are all well within an hour’s drive from the centre of Manchester.

1. Unnatural Borders lightworks at MediaCityUK

Marvel at the huge animal sculptures on display in Salford Quays and, from 9pm until 11pm daily, enjoy the free light show as the creatures are transformed by colourful, kaleidoscopic patterns. Unnatural Borders is brought to MediaCityUK by Rotterdam creatives Sober Industries, who have worked with the likes of Disney and MTV.

Sat 20 May – Mon 29 May, The Piazza, off The Quays, Salford, M50 2EQ. 9pm – 11pm (light show), FREE,

2. Wacky World inflatables at Audacious Church

Get pumped up with plenty of inflatable fun when Wacky World comes to Salford. The interactive course includes slides, bouncy castles, wipeout machines and bungee runs. Watch out for the giant pie-face game, evening sessions for young-at-heart adults – and a potentially prickly guest appearance from African pygmy hedgehogs.

Wed 31 May – Thu 1 Jun, Audacious Church, Trinity Way, Salford M3 7BD. Tel: 0161 830 7000, 12pm – 6pm (children), 6pm – 8pm (adults), £10 / £20,

3. Steam trains in action in Bolton and Bury

Discover the age of steam this half term. Watch ancient trains roll into life for two special Steaming Days at Bolton Steam Museum – their oldest engine is 180 years old, when Manchester’s cotton trade was thriving. Or take to the outdoors as East Lancashire Railway’s fleet of steam engines cut through the countryside for Bury’s Small Engines gala.

Steaming Days: Sun 28 – Mon 29 May, Bolton Steam Museum, Mornington Road, Off Chorley Old Road, Bolton BL1 4EU. Tel: 01204 846 490, 10am – 4pm, FREE,

Small Engines: Sat 3 – Sun 4 Jun, Bolton Street Station, Bolton Street, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 0EY. Tel: 0161 764 7790, 9am onwards, £14 – £57,

4. Discover Space at Manchester Central

Want a career in science and technology? Or do you just enjoy looking through telescopes? Discover Space is the family activity offshoot of the UK Space Conference 2017, and is packed full of educational events, hands-on exhibits, talks and shows about everything from stars to satellites to spacesuits. Tickets are selling out so book at light speed now.

Wed 31 May – Thu 1 Jun, Manchester Central Convention Complex, Windmill St, Manchester M2 3GX. Tel: 0117 906 4573, check website for session times,

5. Kids go free at Chill Factore

This bank holiday, take your children into Chill Factore’s Snow Park for free. As long as an adult has bought a full price pass, kids can enjoy unlimited fun amid the slips and slides of the UK’s longest indoor ski slope. Become an expert at Downhill Donuts, Luge Slip ‘N’ Slide, the manic Sledge ‘O’ Mania and – built from real snow – the great Snow Luge.

Chill Factore, Trafford Way, Trafford Quays Leisure Village, Manchester M41 7JA. Tel: 0843 596 2233, check website for times, FREE,

Fri 26 May - Sun 4 Jun
Fat Roland
Published on:
Wed 24 May 2017