Looking to brighten up the dark nights with a festive activity? Manchester’s city-wide celebrations are back, bringing stunning festive decorations to the centre and beyond. From twinkling street lights to huge lit-up installations, here’s our guide to the best places to see Christmas lights in Manchester this year.
1. Manchester city centre
Setting up a bit of a trail for Mancs to enjoy this Christmas, Manchester City Council has officially cracked out our new Giant Santa for the festive period – and this year he’s joined by a number of gorgeous illuminated sculptures that you can find dotted around the city. There might not have been a big lights switch-on event this year but you can find them across Piccadilly Gardens, St Peter’s Square and New Cathedral Street, as well as St Ann’s Square and the Cathedral.
Piccadilly Gardens, St Peter’s Square, New Cathedral Street, St Ann’s Square and the Cathedral.
Free to visit.
2. Heaton Park
Lightopia is back this year for another fabulously festive trail, with huge light sculptures for all the family to see. From multi-coloured light tunnels, to show-stopping sculptures that light up the night, there’s tons to see and it’s set to be a completely immersive affair for Mancs of all ages with very special features like unseen audio-visual displays.
You’ll find Lightopia at Heaton Park, Middleton Rd, M25 2SW from November 24 until January 2.
Adult tickets start from £17.50.
3. Escape to Freight Island
Escape to Freight Island in the city centre of Manchester has officially launched its ‘Winter Island‘, with tons of festive lights, a Christmas tree forest, a whopping big ‘ice rink in the sky’ and plenty of festive entertainment to enjoy. Running throughout the entire festive period, guests can sit back in awe at the stunning decorations, while enjoying a mulled wine, boozy hot chocolate and tons of festive grub.
Escape to Freight Island, 11 Baring Street, M1 2PZ.
Free to enter, booking recommended but walk-ins also available. Winter Island will be at Freight Island until the end of 2022.
Staged around outdoor locations across MediaCity and Salford Quays, Lightwaves Festival returns this winter and invites visitors to explore a trail of dramatic light art installations that animate and transform the urban waterside area. Box on the Docks is also returning for the festive season, with plenty of festive grub available and a festive Quayside Makers Market to enjoy as part of Media City’s Winter Fest.
You’ll find Lightwaves Festival at Salford Quays and MediaCity
Free to visit between December 1 and 4.
5. RHS Bridgewater
Salford’s new RHS garden is shimmering up a storm this Christmas, with a beautiful light trail that spans the entire site. Think sparkling trees, shrubs and water features basking in the glow, alongside a selection of warming drinks and tasty festive treats that guests can pick up along the trail.
You’ll find GLOW at RHS Bridgewater, Occupation Road, Off Leigh Road, Worsley, Salford, M28 2LJ from November 16 to December 30.
Adult tickets start from £6 for members and £12 for non-members.
6. Dunham Massey
Back for 2022 and here to lift our spirits, is Dunham Massey‘s stunningly festive illumination trail, which will see transform the beautiful formal gardens and deer park transform with light installations situated throughout. The after-dark illuminated trail will be bringing all the festive feels to the historic National Trust venue, along with three new light installations. Gasp at the huge strobe effects that flood the park and waterside with colourful lights, walk through light-covered tunnels (brilliant for photos) and walk alongside artistic-looking light sculptures.
Christmas at Dunham Massey, Dunham Massey National Trust, Woodhouse Lane, Altrincham, WA14 4SJ from November 18 until January 2.
Adult tickets start from £22.50.
7. Chester Zoo
A bit further afield from all the other Christmas lights events in Manchester but it’s definitely worth a grand day out to see these festive lights in all their glory. Chester Zoo’s annual trail is returning this Christmas, which sees the zoo transformed into a winter wonderland with glistening animals dotted throughout. The family-friendly event takes guests on a magical journey, through the mysterious oceans of the world, to a tropical paradise filled with familiar animals.
Chester Zoo, Moston Rd, Upton, Chester, CH2 1EU from November 11 to December 23.
Adult tickets start from £15.