As winter sets in, the temptation to stay in and bask in the glow of scented candles is real. Particularly with all this Storm Arwen palava. Need a push in making the most of the last month of 2021? Check out these wonderfully festive activities and events taking place across Manchester this month and finish the year with a bang.
Popping up for the winter only, the Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience is the perfect Christmas experience for fans of all things magical. Potter through an illuminated forest filled with the unknown, with tons of mystical creatures and familiar sights from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies to uncover along the way. Get tickets here.
2. Ice skating at Escape To Freight Island
Now open at Escape to Freight Island’s brand new Winter Island, guests can glide into Christmas (sorry, Elton, no stepping here) in style – all under the historic roof of Depot Mayfield. Situated on its own mezzanine above the Ticket Hall, guests will be able to enjoy the sounds of live entertainment while skating, as well as take advantage of the many, many amazing festive traders residing at the complex this month. Escape to Freight Island, 11 Baring St, M1 2PZ.
Taking place this week at the beautiful Manchester Cathedral, a talented string quartet will be bringing to life Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake – with a beautiful ballet performance to accompany. The venue will be illuminated with atmospheric candlelight, providing a unique experience for Mancs to enjoy just for Christmas. Get tickets here.
4. Hit up Manchester’s famous Christmas markets
It’s not a December well spent without a trip to the Manchester Christmas Markets. Attracting thousands annually, the huge market spans the entire city centre, with plenty of quirky gift stalls, food stalls and bars to enjoy. Taking the form of a traditional Bavarian market, guests can expect classic grub such as Bratwurst, Dutch pancakes and more, alongside plenty of desserts, cheese and even Italian food.
ChristmasCity is back – with an entire month’s worth of festive films to enjoy. Taking place at the Power League Soccer Dome, guests will get to drive through an immersive mailroom tunnel, before getting to explore the Candy Cane forest and meeting plenty of Christmassy characters along the way. In addition to the drive-thru cinema, guests will also get to take part in activities such as Christmas karaoke, a laser show and enjoy plenty of photo-opps, with festive food and drink also available throughout the session. Get tickets here.
6. Feast on Italian street grub at the Italian Christmas Market
Salvi’s has launched a lovely Chrismas market at Deansgate Square, bringing Italian festivities to the brand new neighbourhood. Feast on soffietti, pizza, pasta and more, with drinks such as mulled wine, Campari, Aperol Spritz and hot mulled negronis to kick back with. In addition to Italian food and drink, guests will also be able to enjoy live music and DJs, with tons of workshops in store, too. Find out more.
From Love Actually to Home Alone, Christmas movie fans are in for quite the treat this month. Taking place at Stoller Hall, the fantastic venue will be immersed in the sounds of famous movie soundtracks – all brought to life by a talented string quartet. There’ll be plenty of festive favourites to enjoy, with candlelight bringing the festive ambience to the already stunning venue. Get tickets here.
8. Hideaway in a twinkling tipi
Need to hide from the chill? Escape to one of Manchester’s many cosy tipis or igloos, each of which is decked out with the most festive of aesthetics. Kick back with a mulled wine, enjoy a festive meal, or just hang out with friends.
The UK’s largest indoor fairground is coming to Manchester, with tons of festive fun in store for all the family. From family-friendly fairground rides, to festive food stalls, circus performances, and more, guests (and kids in particular!) won’t be disappointed by Winter Funland. Get tickets here.
10. Drink a whole lotta mulled wine
Tis the season, after all, and we have just the guide to where to drink it. Check it out here.
The Boy Toy buff butlers are back in town, with the help of local Queens Anna Phylactic & HRH Lill, who’ll be hosting an epic game of Buff Bingo this December. Promising four whole hours of fun, guests can enjoy 1.5 hours of free-flowing mimosas alongside a brunch dish of their choice, before enjoying drag performances, dancing, games, bingo and more. Get tickets here.
12. Experience a Christmas wonderland at Tinsel Town
From ice skating to tobogganing, Tinsel Town is taking over at the Trafford Centre – offering tons of festive fun for families to enjoy. There’ll be fairground rides, the world’s largest mobile bungee, a Christmassy big wheel and a twinkling ice rink, as well as street food and seasonal Christmassy dishes to enjoy, too.
If dancing is on the agenda this month, the R&B Brunch is where it’s at. Serving up bottomless rum punch and seriously good beats, guests can enjoy free-flowing drinks for one hour, alongside five hours of classic R&B and soul – with artists such as Mary J. Blige, SZA and Pharrel gracing the playlist. The perfect opportunity for one last boogie before Christmas comes. Get tickets here.
14. Check out Manchester’s Christmas bar, Miracle on Cross Street
Opening for the first time ever this year, Miracle on Cross Street is bringing plenty of festive vibes to Manchester, with beautiful festive decor, tons of festive drinks and, of course, festive tunes to enjoy all season long. Think mince pies, mulled wine and Christmas cocktails, with plenty of cosy corners to retreat to.
Tenants’ Hall at Tatton Park will host a fabulous Christmas concert this month, with a special performance from the Northern Chamber Orchestra in store. Expect to hear magical movie themes, with plenty of crowd-pleasing tracks from Harry Potter, E.T. and so much more. Get tickets here.
16. Escape the city at 20 Stories ‘Apres Ski in the Sky’
20 Stories has had quite the revamp for Christmas, transforming into an apres-ski dream in collaboration with Monkey 47 gin. Expect alpine-themed touches throughout (particularly in their huge igloos), alongside winter-themed cocktails, and, of course, spectacular views of the city.
Get the gang together for one last hurrah before the Big Man tumbles down the chimney. Hosted at Impossible Manchester, Santa’s 90’s bottomless brunch will bring classic hits from the 90’s and great grub together, with a whole hour of bottomless booze to enjoy (including cocktails!). Enjoy classic burgers alongside Christmas hits and some of the best tracks from the 90’s and 00’s, before taking to the dancefloor and celebrating with friends. Get tickets here.
18. Check out a gospel choir at Ducie Street Warehouse
There are tons of events on at Ducie Street Warehouse this Christmas, including gospel choirs, cooking classes, dog-friendly cinema screenings and even a wonderful Santa’s Grotto. Decked out with some lovely Christmas-themed decorations, guests can enjoy festive menus and a welcoming atmosphere this December at Ducie Street, with plenty of events to enjoy – dog, human or child.
Horrible Histories is coming to Manchester this Christmas, unravelling plenty of Christmas traditions for the whole family to enjoy. Join Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, King Henry VIII and St Nicholas as they team up to save Christmas in this fun panto, with guests able to enjoy the show from the comfort of their own cars. Get tickets here.
20. Check out the new Pixel Bar
Pixel Bar has arrived in Manchester – bringing tons of games to the city for Mancs to enjoy. Expect Pokemon and Mario-themed cocktails, console booths, free-to-play arcade and so much more, bringing a new and fun activity to the bar scene for friends to take advantage of.
21. Sup on mulled wine trees with mates
Launching at Mala especially for the festive season, guests can now enjoy fun Mulled Wine trees, each complete with enough mulled wines for you and your mates to enjoy. Not only do they make for the perfect photo-opp, but they’re pretty darn tasty, too.
22. Scran a Christmas-themed toastie
Northern Soul’s epic Crimbo Dinner grilled cheese is back – packed full of festive fillings especially for December. Think turkey, cranberry, stuffing and gravy, with plenty of cheese to finish. Find it at Escape to Freight Island and Northern Soul’s Tib Street restaurant.
23. See the Coca Cola truck
The Coca-Cola truck is officially riding into Manchester this week, marking the official start of the festive season. Perking us up with tons of festive freebies and plenty of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, the iconic red truck will take up residence at the Trafford Centre this weekend.
Also published on Medium.