Between the post-Christmas comedown and the failed New Year’s resolutions, January can be a pretty depressing month. But whether you’re going dry or staying firmly off the wagon, there’s plenty going on in Manchester this month to help beat those January blues. Check out the best things to do in Manchester to liven up your January.
1. Visit the epic ‘Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience’
The best-selling ‘Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience’ is set to come to an end this month, but before it does, fans of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises have the chance to uncover mysterious creatures throughout the illuminated trail, as well as a number of fun and interactive nods to the films. The trail ends in a cosy winter village that mildly resembles Hogsmeade, where budding witches and wizards can fill up on seasonal grub and sweet treats.
2. Take a look behind the scenes of The Lion King musical production at this gallery
Kimpton Clocktower Hotel has unveiled a new gallery giving Mancs an inside look into the award-winning production The Lion King. The gallery available to view this January consists of a collection of images showcasing different aspects of the landmark musical. From the unique masks and puppets to the sets, make-up, and the award-winning costumes, the free to view exhibition will offer hotel guests a behind-the-scenes look at what makes the musical so spectacular.
3. Head to Dreamland Imaginarium, a multi-sensory, interactive world full of colour
Now open at Regent Retail Park, Dreamland Imaginarium is home to a plethora of multi-sensory activities, inspired by children’s dreams. Designed for children aged 2–10 years old, Dreamland Imaginarium brings together giant inflatable creatures, interactive games and many surprises all in one space. As your little ones roam the four different worlds, they’ll come across (friendly) monsters, birds, fish and flora, and have an abundance of space to run, bounce, crawl and daydream. The different textures, sights, sounds and scents will encourage development in younger visitors, while still being fun for the older ones.
4. Witness a mesmerising installation set to light up the Manchester skies
A new artwork featuring powerful beams of light will celebrate both the new year and new life across Greater Manchester this January. Known as First Breath, the extraordinary installation at Factory International, curated and designed by world-renowned visual artist Luke Jerram, will shoot up beams of light high above the city skyline and slowly pulse to represent the moment that a baby takes its first gasp of air. The light display, which uses low current LED lighting, will take place each evening from January 1-29, between 4pm – 10pm.
5. Enjoy some of the best jazz music from Ella Fitzgerald by candlelight
On January 23, Dream A Little Dream as you hear the melodies of sensational legendary jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald at Hallé St Peters. Known for her incredible ability to interpret a song with emotion and skill, Ella’s music is the perfect soundtrack for a candlelit concert. The intimate and romantic atmosphere, makes the perfect setting to experience Fitzgerald’s soul searching music.
6. Get stuck into some proper good vegan grub (that even meat-eaters will love!)
In the spirit of Veganuary, we’re trading our love for the carnivorous diet for something a little more eco-friendly: veganism. Proving the plant-based diet is so much more than all things green and healthy, Manchester’s vast array of vegan restaurants are serving up some seriously tasty dishes – from Neapolitan pizzas to saucy, juicy burgers that rival even those made of beef. Trust us.
7. Break Dry January with this unique prison cocktail experience
Not one for a January challenge? Spice up this month’s night out with Alcotraz’s unique drinking experience – which leads guests into incarceration at Cell Block Three-Four. Smuggle in your own booze while avoiding the watchful eye of the guard and enjoy contraband cocktails in your very own private cell. Orange jumpsuits included.
8. See Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses live on stage at The Lowry
Malorie Blackman‘s critically-acclaimed young adult novel of first love in a dangerous fictional dystopia, Noughts & Crosses, has been adapted into a theatre production, which is soon heading to the stage in Salford. Pilot Theatre is bringing Sabrina Mahfouz’s adaptation of the inspiring novel that focuses on racial inequalities Noughts & Crosses to The Lowry in January and start the year with a theatrical bang.
9. Let out the January Blues with a bit of axe throwing
Feeling a bit of pent-up frustration after the tiring festive season? Whistle Punks is one of the most unique experiences Manchester has to offer, allowing guests to try out a bit of axe throwing in a safe environment. Whether it’s with your other half or a day out with mates, guests can enjoy 70 minutes of throwing, with high stakes as Whistles Punks searches for its axe-throwing King or Queen.
10. Sip on deliciously-mixed drinks at this new cocktail bar in Chorlton
The new year means Manchester will be welcoming some new and exciting spots to dine and drink at. Set to join the trendy Manchester suburbs of Chorlton this month is new, independent, neighbourhood cocktail bar, 97, the latest concept from the team behind Manchester’s Tariff & Dale and The Lead Station. Aptly named after its location on 97 Beech Road, the bar will be an intimate, elegant and informal place to enjoy creative, quality cocktails. Expect signature serves alongside timeless classics with a twist, presented by a warm and professional neighbourhood team.
11. Catch the best of Banksy at this huge, exclusive art exhibition
The Art of Banksy, is the largest touring exhibition of Banksy’s artworks, and is located at a new purpose-built gallery in the heart of MediaCity. Featuring the world’s largest collection of privately-owned Banksy art, with ‘Girl and Balloon’, ‘Flower Thrower’, ‘Rude Copper’ and ‘Brace Yourself’ being perhaps the most famous masterpieces assembled, January is your last month to visit this exhibition. The Art of Banksy will display 145 prints, canvasses, screenprints, unique works, limited-edition pieces and more, covering a period from 2002 to 2017, and also features some of the artists’ lesser-known works for a bit of variety.
12. Try out a new fitness class
Whether you’re a complete novice, or simply wanting to get back to the gym, January is never an easy time to restart your health and fitness regime. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. From fun ballet-style classes to boxing, here’s our guide to some of the best fitness classes in town.
13. Hear the best tunes by Amy Winehouse at this candlelight concert
On January 12, you can experience Amy Winehouse like never before. Help Yourself to an enchanting evening with one of the most successful and influential British singers of her time. Melt into the deep melodies of Amy as a jazz singer and band play some of her most famous songs like Valerie, Rehab, Back to Black and many more.
14. Enjoy a ‘blackout’ dinner by candlelight at Manchester’s stunning sky-high restaurant
Bringing back their Blackout Dinner for January 2023 after its sell-out Halloween event, the Manchester bar and restaurant recently crowned one of the best rooftop bars in the world, 20 Stories, has announced that guests can do exactly that. The Manchester spot is hosting a special event in partnership with Cîroc, which will see the stunning restaurant completely blacked out, with only candlelight and the light from the view of the city to provide the mysterious ambience.
15. Cosy up with a film as the magical, immersive Backyard Cinema comes to this Manchester rooftop
Perfect for movie-lovers and adventure-seekers, Backyard Cinema offers an immersive cinema experience that is more than just the movies, and it is in Manchester for one more month. Audiences can expect to be transported on a magical journey to a cinema like no other. Having to make choices as visitors explore movie-grade sets, through tunnels of trees, magical doors to eventually discover the Enchanted Forest and home of the Lost Theatre. The screening room will be filled with custom-made giant bean bag seating for guests to get cosied up in with ushers serving seasonal cocktails and sweet treats to create the most magical place to watch a movie.
16. Sample some of the best brews in the country at GRUB’s Winter Beer Fest
Street food venue GRUB is here to brighten up the cold month with their annual Winter Beer Fest. Taking place from January 20-22, the festival will bring together some of the best breweries in the UK, serving a selection of their best winter brews. The street food destination will feature pop-up brewery bars and will also be running tasting events over the weekend, alongside an independent street food market, a mulling bar and more.
17. Kickstart 2023 with a bang at this Britney-inspired bottomless brunch
If there’s anyone who can make an epic comeback it’s Britney and this brunch should give you plenty of inspiration for yours this 2023. This bottomless brunch pays tribute to the platinum-blonde queen of pop Britney Spears, revisiting the star’s iconic repertoire with sparkling performances from the UK’s top Britney Spears impersonator and tribute, not to mention a host of dazzling drag queens. Also on the agenda are games, top DJ Billy Andrew, juicy burgers and, of course, an hour of bottomless bubbles. By the end, you’ll be begging for them to gimme more of these timeless Britney bops.
18. Visit this independent bookshop on a mission to combat loneliness
With the aim to combat loneliness in the community law firm gunnercooke has announced it is launching a purpose-led independent bookshop, café and events space in Manchester. Known as The House of Books & Friends, the space is now open in Bruntwood’s Manchester Club building at the top of King Street. The bookshop will offer initiatives for customers and businesses through pay it forward schemes, as well as opportunities to make connections with their community through events and a café.
Also published on Medium.