A group of volunteers on the East Lancashire Railway have been celebrated this week after clocking up a whopping 2000 years-worth of service between them.
The heritage railway is a popular tourist attraction on the Greater Manchester and Lancashire border, bringing around 200,000 visitors annually.
It has now awarded its most dedicated volunteers – which its chairman says are the railway’s ‘lifeblood’ – with Long Service Awards.
He added that they had helped the attraction to ‘bounce back’ from an ‘incredibly challenging’ 18 months caused by the pandemic.
But not all their volunteers have returned post-pandemic, and the ELR is calling out for people to maintain the railway, run the heritage trains and host events and experiences – basically, to be the ‘cogs that keep the railway running’.
58 staff and volunteers were recently given plaques for their dedication to the ELR over the last 50 years.
They’ve collectively spent more than 2,000 years working for the heritage attraction, with its longest-serving volunteers working there for more than 50 years.
Lois Veevers Hatton and Peter Lord have both been with the ELR for 52 years, while Richard Law and Phil Bailey have spent 51 years volunteering.
These people are credited with ‘rescuing the railway from disappearing’ back in the late 60’s, preserving it for future generations.
Ten further volunteers were given silver awards for more than four decades of service, with the remaining honoured with bronze awards.
East Lancashire Railway chairman Mike Kelly, a fellow volunteer himself, said: “Our volunteers have and continue to be the absolute lifeblood of the heritage railway.
“Put simply, without them, we could not function, so it’s only right that we step out to salute their incredible selfless and unwavering service.
“Our Long Service Awards provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate their contribution and to thank them for their dedication that stretches back decades.
“This was more important than ever after the last 18 months which have been incredibly challenging for the railway due to the coronavirus pandemic, which put our future in jeopardy.
Featured image: Facebook – East Lancashire Railway
Kids & Family
The best things to do in Greater Manchester this week | 28 November – 4 December 2022
December is finally here.
It’s hardly like we’ve been stopping ourselves, but now that we’re waving goodbye to November, we are officially allowed to get excited about Christmas and all the festive-themed events coming up over the next few weeks – especially after Manchester Christmas Markets 2022 kicked-off and are now spreading festive cheer across the city.
The events calendar is, once again, absolutely jam-packed this week, so we’ve cherry-picked a few of the best bits for another edition of our ‘what’s on‘ guide.
As always, some of the events we’re going to mention are completely free, while others will set you back a few pounds, and many will need to be booked in advance.
Here’s our top picks.
Monday 28 November – onwards
Lightopia has made a return to Heaton Park this year.
Once again lighting up Manchester and captivating audiences for the fourth year in a row, award-winning illuminations event Lightopia is promising to bring the magic of Christmas back to the grounds of Heaton Park from this Thursday – with a brand-new immersive experience set to take over the park until January.
Through brand-new and unseen audiovisual displays, this year’s festival is a “once-in-a-lifetime adventure” for the all the family to enjoy.
This year, Lightopia will have food and drink traders stationed in front of The Stables under a heated canopy, creating the atmosphere of a mini Christmas market. Festive food and drink on offer will include a pulled pork hog roast and mulled wines, as well as vegan scotch eggs and homemade sausage rolls served out of an Airstream, piled-high pasta dishes, and stone-baked pizzas served from a converted horse box.
Find out more about Lightopia 2022 and grab tickets here.
Manchester Christmas Markets 2022
Manchester City Centre
Monday 28 November – Thursday 22 December
Manchester Christmas Markets 2022 are in full swing.
The iconic annual event – which draws in visitors from all across the globe each year, and has been voted the best Christmas markets in the UK for 2022 – are here once again to spread some cheer right across the city centre.
Open every day until Thursday 22 December, the the main market hubs in will be in Exchange Square, St Ann’s Square, King Street, and Market Street.
Other zones, however, are set to open after Christmas Day and run into the New Year.
You can find out everything you need to know here.
Monday 28 November – onwards
Did you see that Manchester’s newest cinema on the roof of Depot Mayfield has a whole host of Christmas films on the agenda over the next few weeks?
Backyard Cinema brings its immersive movie going experience to the north for the ever first time, and features way more than a cosy purpose-built cinema room, as it comes complete with an Enchanted Forest, two bars, street food trucks, and a live music stage to boot.
Looking for some new restaurants and bars to try out in Manchester city centre before this month is out?
As ever, a host of exciting new restaurants and bars have opened up November.
Not only do we have the return this month of Manchester’s Christmas Markets, which has brought with it a host of exciting and varied food and drink stalls, we also have a host of new wine bars, bakeries, pasta restaurants and food halls to shout about.
You can read our round-up to find out where to put on your list this month here.
FIFA World Cup 2022
Manchester City Centre
Monday 28 November – 18 December
The FIFA World Cup 2022 is well underway, and Mancs are right to be wondering where to watch the World Cup in Manchester.
International tournaments are always a special occasion we eagerly await to come around and while we’re sure you could walk into any old pub and enjoy yourself, there are some seriously good venues showing Qatar 2022 this winter – so, with that in mind, we thought we’d put together a list of the best places to watch in our city.
Escape to Freight Island has brought its highly-popular Winter Island back to Manchester, just in time to get you in the mood for the festive season.
Having landed at Depot Mayfield‘s premier event space and cargo park, this year’s Winter Island is promising visitors everything from DJs, live entertainment, and Massaoke, to Christmas workshops, pop-up markets, and all the festive food you could hope for.
Food and drink to be scoffed from some of the best local and independent traders.
From Manchester favourites like Northern Soul grilled cheese and the award-winning Great North Pie Co. to Ancoats chocolatiers Cocoa Cabana, who will be letting you create your own boozy hot chocolate (the best kind), there’s so much to tickle your festive fancies.
Proper festive fun for all the family, the Christmas with Paddington grotto experience – which is curated by award-winning experiential events company Bakehouse Factory – includes fun photo opportunities for all ages, the chance to travel through snowy festive trees and scenic street scenes, and so much more.
What’s a festive season in the city without Skate Manchester?
Back once again for 2022 with twinkling lights, the smell of gingerbread, and Christmas songs playing on repeat, Skate Manchester’s stunning outdoor ice rink is in the heart of the city at Cathedral Gardens until 2 January 2023.
With covered rink having a roof to allow everyone to enjoy the ice, whatever the weather, this year, there’s also a brand-new ice path allowing you to skate around the beautiful Christmas tree centre.
The highly-anticipated and long-awaited exhibit is currently showcasing 145 iconic Banksy pieces all amassed from private collections across the globe to create the world’s largest touring collection of Banksy artworks.
Visitors will have the chance to experience the infamous artist’s most well-known works alongside those rarely seen by the public, all on loan from private collectors.
Popular après-ski village Bar Hütte is officially back in the city centre.
After what was an undeniably successful run in 2021 and the plenty of years prior, Bar Hütte is better than ever this year, with 15 cosy Alpine cabins dotted across the Great Northern square courtyard to bring a lively, festive, and vibrant atmosphere.
Inspired by some of the coolest après ski bars in Europe, there’s everything from live music and free-flowing festive drinks, to the chance to try out the bar’s legendary ‘shot skis’, as well sing-along to all of your favourite tunes inside a private wooden karaoke cabin that’s festooned with twinkling tights.
Cheshire Oaks’ beloved grotto will look a little different to usual as Santa and his trusty elves are taking to the skies and inviting you on a fantastical festive adventure on the outlet’s all-new Big Wheel.
The Santa in the Sky experience is the perfect way to celebrate Christmas as a family this winter, and make memories to last a lifetime.
Open every weekend throughout December, with 10-minutes flights taking place from 10am-1pm, included in the ticket price is four spaces on the Big Wheel flight with Santa and his elves, and you’ll also get to sip on a mulled wine or hot chocolate and enjoy a festive cookie, as well as get a little gift to take home with you from Santa.
Featured Image – Winter Island | Bar Hutte | Cheshire Oaks
Kids & Family
You can now get 10% off tickets to Lightopia at Heaton Park this festive season
Lightopia is returning to Heaton Park with a new Christmas-themed immersive experience, and you can now grab yourself 10% off tickets.
Lighting up Manchester and already captivating audiences for the fourth year in a row, award-winning illuminations event Lightopia is bringing the magic of Christmas to the grounds of Heaton Park from tonight.
Promising to be a “once-in-a-lifetime adventure” for the all the family to enjoy, and having taken over the park until January, the immersive experience features brand-new and unseen audiovisual displays.
This year’s trail follows the story of new beginnings and the circle of life.
Beginning at the ‘Guardian Gate’, you will be transported into a winter wonderland decorated by a blanket of shooting stars with the ‘Essence of Light’ display, before following the winding mystical path to the ‘Mythical Forrest’ – a Christmas realm that suitably celebrates the festive season with giant baubles, trees, and presents.
The ‘Secret Flower Garden’ lights up the natural greenery of the park with a collection of glowing fauna wrapped around the branches above and the grass below, and then, in a display that festival organisers say is curated especially for younger guests called the ‘Book of Rebirth’, little Mancs can unlock their imagination with friendly animated animals.
The kid’s zone also features interactive musical tiles for everyone to interact and play with.
The vibrant ‘Ying Yang’ display and ‘Tranquility Arch’ – which is home to colourful swans and butterflies – are some of the other displays to catch this year.
The Lightopia team says guests should then “prepare your senses” for the ‘Phoenix’ – which is this year’s main event that is new for 2022, and invites you to experience the heart of the festival through sound and light with a five-minute A/V show that will “push the boundaries” of music through the captivating display.
The immersive adventure ends with the grand finale ‘Lakeside Water Show’ – a spectacle of moving creatures and patterns projected across the lake and fountain.
Speaking on Lightopia’s return to Manchester for the fifth year, Ian Xiang – Creative Director of Lightopia – said: “We are delighted to share the magic of Lightopia 2022 with families in Manchester and beyond and we hope this immersive experience will bring together friends and loved ones through the power of light and sound.
“Not only have we created a fantastical world, full of happiness, illumination, and charm, we hope by offering families a more affordable experience, they can escape for an evening filled with festive magic at Christmas.”
Lightopia is running right through until Monday 2 January 2023, and visitors can make their way to the festival every day – except for when it’s closed on Christmas Day – between 5pm to 10pm, with last entry being 8:30pm.
Advance tickets are priced at £17.50 for adults off-peak and £22.50 at peak times, from £11 – £14.50 for children – with those under three going free – and £49 for families of two adults and two children off-peak and £69 for peak times. Essential carers of disabled visitors can also attend for free when the disabled visitor pays the normal admission fee.
New for 2022, Lightopia has announced a new ticketing system to help families with rising living costs, with an off-peak option on selected weekdays.
And if you’re looking to save an few extra pennies on top of that, The Manc also has an exclusive discount code for you to make the most of – which gives an extra 10% off ticket prices throughout the duration of the festival to give everyone the chance to visit the magical experience for themselves this festive season.
Use the code Manc10 to get 10% off.
Find out more and grab tickets to Lightopia 2022 here.