10 FREE things to do with the kids in Manchester this half term
Half term is the time most kids look forward to but most parents, carers, and guardians tend to dread, as it usually means having to search around for various different ways to keep the youngsters entertained, educated, and engaged, all while making sure they’re still enjoying themselves – which is, undoubtedly, a real task.
But this year, with the rising cost of living crisis continuing to make its impact felt nationwide, and more families struggling with their finances than ever before, finding ways to pass the time over half term is trickier than ever as many are looking to keep things on a budget.
Luckily, the bustling city of Manchester and everything it has to offer has got you covered.
From family-friendly art exhibitions and educational festivals, to exploring a brand-new city centre park, a whole host of Halloween activities, and so much more, there’s lots of things to do in our city over half term for free of charge.
Here’s a round-up of just 10 things you could be getting up to this week.
Pokémon: Art Through the Ages
A Pokémon art trail and treasure hunt-style event has taken over the Trafford Centre for the next couple of weeks, and it’s absolutely free to get involved with.
‘Pokémon: Art Through the Ages’ gives fans of all ages – but especially little Mancs – the chance to discover hidden art of the 151 Pokémon that were originally discovered in the Kanto region through an interactive trail, which event organisers say showcases “a wide variety of artistic techniques and styles” from across the ages.
There’s cave paintings, stained glass, and more for families and Pokémon fans to enjoy free of charge.
You can find out more here.
Manchester Science Festival 2022
Science and Industry Museum
Manchester Science Festival has made a glorious return for 2022, with events for all ages taking place at the Science and Industry Museum and other venues across the city for free.
This year’s event is celebrating science through immersive performances, interactive activities, and after-hours amusement, with highlights across the festival – including a headline exhibition Turn It Up: The Power of Music, a nocturnal nature tour, and a chance to meet people who already work in STEM careers, including experts from festival sponsors Amazon.
The museum’s 1830 Warehouse will be a hive of futuristic activity throughout the festival, showcasing new technologies, hands-on experiments, and the chance to play Rock, Paper, Scissors against a prosthetic counterpart.
Families can also plant and take home their own saplings as City of Trees show the role that trees play in helping to reduce the effects of the climate crisis, and can chat to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust to learn about how to keep nature in their neighbourhoods.
You can find out about everything happening at this year’s Manchester Science Festival here.
Halloween in the City & MCR Monsters
Manchester City Centre
Looking for some free Halloween-themed activities this half term? Well you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled, as the iconic MCR Monsters are back once again.
Just as they have been doing for the past couple of years now, a while host of giant inflatable monsters have started looming and creeping over buildings across the city centre this week to transform some of our most well-known landmarks with tentacles and googly eyes and pointy teeth for a FREE monsters trail that kids absolutely love.
And this year, the trail is bigger than ever before, with 14 monsters to spot around town.
The MCR Monsters are part of this year’s Halloween in the City celebrations, where families are encouraged to don their best fancy dress and join in.
Some of the free events to look forward to this weekend include the Monsters Rock! Party Procession, with stilt walkers, monster puppets, and a five-piece band mingling with shoppers weaving through Manchester Arndale and Market Street, and the Creepy Carnival made up of a carousel, helter skelter, street food, and circus performers sprawling across New Cathedral Street.
You can find out more about Halloween in the City 2022 here.
People’s History Museum
The People’s History Museum is one of the best places to take the kids for some education fun for free this half term.
The award-winning museum in the heart of Manchester city centre has got a wide range of exhibitions and activities happening throughout the week at its several galleries and event spaces – including a 2022 Banner Exhibition, which gives you the chance to come face to face with the handiwork of the people who fought for the rights we have today, and play some banner bingo too.
You can also see The Manchester Agronaught, check out the dedicated exhibitions for Black History Month 2022, and so much more.
You can find out more about what’s happening at the People’s History Museum this half term here.
Have you had the chance to visit Manchester‘s first new park in the heart of the city centre for more than 100 years yet? This half term couldn’t be a more ideal time to see it for yourself.
It’s been a long journey to get here, but Mayfield Park has become a reality, and it’s now open for the public to enjoy.
Over the last 18 months, the vast and mostly-derelict former industrial site next to Piccadilly Station has been transformed into what project developers are calling a “stunning, accessible, and varied” green space for everyone who visits the city centre to make the most of.
As well as being a green oasis full of fresh blooms and beautifully-landscaped river walkways, there’s also a big play area for kids with a huge slide as the centrepiece.
You can find out more about Mayfield Park here.
Windows of Youth Creativity – We Made It
Manchester City Centre
Windows of Youth Creativity – We Made It is the latest exhibition by Wild In Art.
It will see 10 large windows and spaces transformed at prominent Manchester venues as part of a project commissioned by Manchester City Council to showcase creative disciplines such as photography, illustration, dance, sculpture, street art, mosaic, poetry and model making.
Taking place across the city, the trail will include giant robots at the Science and Industry Museum, photographs taken by young people living in East Manchester at the National Football Museum, a special installation at the Royal Exchange, and coral beds and mosaic sea creatures created by young people with special educational needs at the Town Hall Annex.
The project will celebrate youth creativity, and the diverse communities that live across the city.
You can find out more about the exhibition and art trail here.
Victoria Baths’ popular Welcome Wednesday event is being given a family friendly transformation for the half term this week, and a wide range of free activities will be on offer to entertain families throughout the day.
You can take part in a Stained Glass Window Workshop inspired by all the brightly-coloured patterned windows that are one of the amazing features of Victoria Baths, and have a go at making your own stained glass-style window decoration to take home, or visit the colouring station to do some creative drawing and the toy station so the little ones can spend some time playing.
There’s also the chance to take free guided tours around the historic building and learn more about some of its quirky features.
Entry to Victoria Baths is free on Welcome Wednesdays, but donations are welcome – which all help to maintain the building for the community.
You can find out more here.
If you’re still in the mood for some more frightening free fun, then Manchester’s beautifully-restored new social destination, New Century, is hosting its very-own Halloween Spooktacular event this Sunday 30 October, and there’s a full day of themed events and activities for little Mancs planned to take over the whole space.
Free family fun events will be hosted both in the hall upstairs and downstairs kitchens – including frightful face painting, a bogey man bouncy castle, a photobooth, spooky workshops from the NOMA team, and plenty of food and drink available.
The upstairs space will also be transformed into a ‘Hellish Halloween Hall’ for the occasion, complete with a spooky light show courtesy of the iconic disco ceiling.
You can find out more about Halloween Spooktacular at New Century here.
Science and Industry Museum
A huge gaming event has returned to Manchester, and it’s free for everyone to get stuck into.
With more than 160 consoles and hundreds of games to play, Power UP is back at the Science and Industry Museum for the first time in three years, and in case you haven’t heard, it’s been taking people on a journey through five decades of gaming – with everything from retro arcade games, to state-of-the-art virtual reality, and so much more.
Power UP is taking place every day throughout October half term, and each weekend all the way through to December 2023 – with each free ticket including unlimited play all day.
You can find more information here.
Looking for even more things to do in Greater Manchester this week? You can read our full ‘what’s on’ events round up here.
Featured Image – HalloweenMCR | Science Museum Group | People’s History Museum