Schools are now out across Greater Manchester, and that means families will be looking for activities to keep the the kids occupied for the next two weeks.
Keeping little ones entertained, educated, engaged, and enjoying themselves all at the same time is, undoubtedly, a real task – but luckily, the bustling city of Manchester and the surrounding areas have got you covered with so much to offer.
With outdoor retro funfairs, egg hunts, seasonal themed events, gaming extravaganzas, and so much more all in the events calendar, we’ve rounded up some of the best family-friendly things to do across the Greater Manchester region and beyond if you’re in need of some school holiday inspiration.
Some of the events on the list are completely free of charge, while others will set you back a few pounds but are still pretty cost-effective.
Here’s just a handful of our picks.
A giant outdoor funfair full of vintage fairground rides and a circus is back at the Trafford Centre.
After several hugely successful runs in both 2021 and 2022, the UK’s third largest shopping centre’s outdoor space has “sprung to life” once again for the school holidays, and is back with a whole host of thrilling rides, a glittering circus, and lots of delicious treats for the whole family to enjoy.
Spring Escape has popped up outside the Great Hall, and tickets are now available to buy for the wide range of events on offer.
A massive “gaming extravaganza” is happening down at the Science and Industry Museum while schools are out this month.
As part of the museum’s hugely-popular ongoing interactive gaming experience, Power UP, visitors will be transported inside their favourite games as part of the Actual Reality Arcade – a life-size nostalgic gaming experience that’s promising to “unlock memories” players star in real-life versions of some retro favourite games, including Invaders and Breakout.
Young gaming lovers can also explore a special Pac-Man floor maze, and families can level up together with some super-size gaming too.
Chester Zoo has launched an Easter egg hunt with a twist.
If you’re looking for something to keep the kids entertained and educated at the same time while schools are out this Easter, the UK’s largest charity and conservation zoo’s ‘Really Wild Egg Trail’ will see giant 3D eggs hidden over the 128-acre site.
But the catch is, each of the six hidden eggs all belong to animals that you might not expect to hatch from eggs.
Families are encouraged to make the most of Manchester‘s new ‘sky park’ on Castlefield Viaduct during the school holidays.
The New York-inspired elevated urban park on the giant Grade II-listed 330-metre steel viaduct has been closed since December to allow time for the team of National Trust gardeners, volunteers, and community partners to prune, plant, and create new and exciting areas.
On top of the work to add a variety of seasonal planting displays created by, four plots on the viaduct have also been handed over to local community groups and partner organisations to create their own unique gardens for visitors to enjoy.
Farm Weekend is back at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park this Easter school holidays.
With families from all across Greater Manchester and the North West set to make their way to Macclesfield for two days of wholesome springtime fun on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 April, you can expect a weekend full of different outdoor family-friendly activities, performances, markets, and lots of local food and drink.
From tractor rides, falconry flying displays, and lamb cuddles, to bushcraft demonstrations, archery lessons, obstacle courses, interactive animal petting sessions, Easter-themed crafts, and artisan markets, there’ll be something for everyone to enjoy at the two-day event.
A ‘Double Bubble Dome’ full of edible milk chocolate bubbles will be at Manchester Arndale this Easter.
Straight from the world of Willy Wonka, this free activity give kids and adults alike the chance to bite edible bubbles from right out the air as the Bubble Volacano explodes, and win some exciting prizes and goody bags along the way.
Shoppers are also encouraged to share their experience at the event on social media to be in with the chance of winning great-tasting gifts from the likes of Hotel Chocolat, Lindt, Poundland, WHSmith, Over the Rainbow, and Candy Crunch.
Heaton Park’s flagship ‘Big Egg Hunt’ is back this Easter.
From 11am-3pm on Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 April, and for just £3 per ticket, everyone from the tiniest tots to big kids can take part and hunt for eggs hidden around the park.
To take part, all you need to do is visit the Heaton Park reception based in the tunnel at the stable block and follow the map to locate clues that will help you solve the puzzle, and then, to claim your prize, you’ll just need to return to the desk with the completed mystery word puzzle.
Printworks is another city centre venue that’s packed its Easter holiday events calendar with a wide range of interactive events for all the family.
In what is sure to be one of the more popular events on the lineup, the venue’s legendary Hard Rock Cafe is hosting a special Breakfast With Bunny on Sunday 2 April, and it’s giving families the chance to join the Easter Bunny for an unlimited all-American breakfast
There’ll also be face painting and lots of other “magical entertainment” to make the most of during the two hour event.
Tickets are now on sale, and you can find out more here.
The Great Hunt
Selfridges at the Trafford Centre is another place to head to this week if you’re looking to get the family all together and join in the hunt for Easter eggs hidden around the store’s kids and toys department, as “rumour has it, the Easter bunny hid the best eggs at Selfridges.”
There’s eight eggs to find, and chocolate prizes up for grabs, with a whole host of other “surprises” promised along the way.
Escape Hunt has launched a new City Hunt adventure just in time for Easter, and it’s giving families the chance to go outdoors, discover our city in a way like never before, and jump down the rabbit hole as it is Alice in Wonderland themed.
The hunt will start at Escape Hunt at the Corn Exchange, and you’ll be set up with an iPad and picnic hamper filled with everything you should need to complete your adventure.
Tickets are now on sale, and what’s more, is that children under eight go completely free.
Two of the East Lancashire Railway’s (ELR) fan-favourite events are back this school holidays, and they’re giving families the chance to go on dinosaur and Harry Potter-themed steam train rides through the picturesque Greater Manchester.
The Wizarding Adventure is an interactive Hogwarts Express-style experience full of performances by colourful characters and magical creatures, while The Dino Adventure gives dino fans to “get your teeth into some Jurassic Lark” and go on a prehistoric expedition on “a time-travelling steam train” to meet with a herd of adorable baby dinosaurs.
Find out more and grab tickets to all of ELR’s Easter events here.
The Giant Easter Egg Hunt
RHS Garden Bridgewater
RHS Garden Bridgewater has got a whole host of family-friendly activities planned throughout the school holidays, but one of the stand-out events has to be the chance to head out on a hunt for giant Easter eggs.
Families can search for giant eggs hidden around the garden to win a chocolate prize.
After you’ve had a go at finding all the hidden eggs, there’s also plenty of other activities to get involved with – including craft workshops, interactive performances, and more.
Little Mancs can try their hand at becoming a pilot this school holidays, as the much-loved Flight Academy returns to Manchester Airport.
The Flight Academy programme is back at Runway Visitor Park with 90-minute sessions to give curious kids the chance to learn all about the different job roles that help keep Manchester‘s airport in action throughout the year.
The first part of the session takes place aboard a retired Monarch DC10 airliner, so kids can sit in the cockpit and find out about everything from the cabin crew’s role, to the ground operators, and more, and they’ll even get to dress the part, and “take control” of the flight deck too.
If you’re looking to let your child’s creativity run wild this Easter holidays, then Selfridges Trafford Centre is hosting a workshop led by the creative experts at Pop Up & Play, where little ones will be guided through an hour-long spring-themed crafting session to make their own creations, and take them home to proudly display once they’re done.
Suitable for children aged four and above, tickets are £5 each and are now available to buy.
Not only has the sun been shining bright in the region over the last few weeks, signalling that summer is well and truly here, but we’ve also got an events calendar thats jam-packed full of festivals, family-friendly activities, foodie feasts, immersive experiences, and so much more to get stuck into.
Once again, we’ve cherry-picked a few of the best bits for another edition of our ‘what’s on‘ guide this week.
Here’s our top picks.
Monday 12 June – Saturday 29 July
A huge circus tent has been installed onto the roof of Depot Mayfield in Manchester, as the world-leading cabaret La Clique is in town.
The trailblazing show – which has had its stay in the city extended right through to 29 July – features the best circus and cabaret acts in the world.
Presented by live entertainment company Underbelly, La Clique is wowing audiences with its genre-defining cabaret show, and for its Manchester stint, performers will include tension strap artist LJ Marles, singer Chastity Belt, aerial contortion artist Miranda Menzies, comedy and stunt performer Sam Goodburn, and more.
Mancs now now get up close to rare personal items of Stephen Hawking’s in a new exhibition that’s now opened down at the Science and Industry Museum.
Stephen Hawking at Work explores the remarkable life of a world-renowned scientist, who passed away in 2018 – with significant objects from his office giving an insight into his life as a scientist, science communicator, and as a person who lived with motor neurone disease.
Highlights include a rare copy of his PhD thesis, and a wager he made with his peers about whether things that fall into a black hole are lost forever, while there’s also a ‘time traveller’ party invitation that he sent to his peers after the party had taken place, to prove that time travel to the past is impossible.
Chester Zoo is bringing its ‘after hours’ events back this summer after they proved so popular last year.
Giving visitors the chance to explore the UK’s biggest charity zoo “like never before”, the Into The Night series was launched to massive success in 2022, and offered unlimited access to animal habitats, indoor areas, and restaurants after hours for the first time ever.
And this summer, it’s back for animal lovers who missed out.
With tickets now on sale from as little as £10, Chester Zoo is inviting people to discover the zoo as the sun goes down with thrilling live entertainment, special guest appearances, and delicious food and drink.
A brand-new Coronation Street Experience has opened, and it’s giving fans access to areas they previously haven’t been able to before.
The Coronation Street Tour is known for giving people the chance to discover the hidden world that lies behind the camera at the external sets at MediaCityUK in Salford, and now, the already award-winning experience has got even better as the new exhibition extends the current 90-minute tour and makes it even more “immersive” for fans.
You’ll get the opportunity to see Dierdre’s famous glasses up close, take a seat in Roy’s Rolls, or even stand behind the bar at The Rovers.
Fancy trying out some new bars, and restaurants that have opened in Greater Manchester this month?
Summer is here, al fresco dining is on the cards, and it seems like the suburbs are having a moment again, as Urmston has not one but two exciting new openings to shout about, and Withington has just welcomed Almost Famous into its neighbourhood, as Manchester’s original dirty burger bar takes over the short-lived Libertine site.
Elsewhere, Gordon Ramsay moves into town with his Lucky Cat restaurant moving into the former Jamie’s Italian site at the top of King Street.
We think you’ll agree there’s a lot to look forward to now that June’s here, so if you’re looking for somewhere to grab a bite this week, we’ve rounded up some of the best new openings to try.
Great Big Green Week: Take A Detour with a Tree Tour
Thursday 15 & Saturday 17 June
City of Trees is inviting Mancs to make the most of the long summer days by going on an hour-long stroll around the city this Thursday and Saturday.
Starting with a visit to see the magnificent garden of trees planted high in the sky on Castlefield Viaduct, guides will then take you down into the Roman gardens in Castlefield and beyond, teach you how to identify trees, and throw in some fun facts about the different species and their ability to adapt and survive the challenges of the former industrial city.
Tipsy Tapas is one of Manchester’s newest bottomless brunches.
If you love Middle Eastern-inspired small plates, and a good Saturday afternoon out on the town, then you absolutely need to add this one to your list.
Hosted at former Michelin-recommended King Street restaurant Habas, for £38 per person diners can enjoy a ‘tipsy tapas’ with 90 minutes of non-stop cocktails, wine, beer, and a mouthwatering selection of punchy small plates.
A massive festival especially for dogs and their owners is back at Tatton Park this weekend.
Described as being the “ultimate dog’s day out” and created by dog-lovers, for dog-lovers, DogFest returns to Cheshire by popular demand for another thrilling two-day event, so you and your pup can “try your paw” at a whole host of activities.
Dog diving, agility courses, the ever-popular hay bale race, or entering the Fun Dog Show for your chance to win ‘Best in Show’, are just some of the things four-legged friends can get involved with.
King Street Townhouse, is celebrating dads, grandads, and as-good-as-dads with a selection of themed Father’s Day film screenings at its very-own exclusive underground cinema this weekend.
With something for everyone to enjoy on the lineup, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the captivating worlds of aliens, superheroes, boxing legends, interstellar adventures, and high-octane aerial combat, as six smash-hit films will be screened over three days.
Optional additions to enhance the Father’s Day celebration include whiskey cocktails, lager, pic ‘n’ mix, and mouth-watering burgers, all served to your seat for the ultimate indulgence.
Find out more and grab tickets to each film screening here.
Saturday 17 June
Liverpool’s beloved taco joint Madre is bringing the spirit of Mexico City to Manchester when it opens at KAMPUS this Saturday.
With a menu made up of mouth-watering tacos, wood-grilled seafood and steaks, plus fresh oysters and ceviche straight from a huge ice counter, and a drinks list celebrating agave, this is a new opening you don’t want to miss.
GASP! Horror Festival is Manchester’s only horror film festival dedicated to minority filmmakers.
Taking over Manchester’s home of cult cinema, video games, and “cool nerdy events”, Cultplex – which is tucked away within the award-winning venue GRUB in Cheetham Hill – this weekend, there’s truly something for everyone within on the packed festival lineup that features the best new horror films by some of the most exciting filmmakers working today.
Six feature-length films and two short film showcases by female filmmakers, foreign language filmmakers, people with disabilities, people of colour, and the LGBTQ+ community make up the lineup.
The bar was also recently crowned ‘Leading Bar’ at last year’s This Is Manchester Awards.
The Oast House hopes to fill the festival gap for anyone who missed out on Parklife tickets with an impressive line-up lifted from its stage at the festival itself.
Artful Dodger will take to the stage at 11pm on Saturday night, continuing the party taking place in Heaton Park.
The event will kick off on Friday 9 June from 6pm until midnight, continuing at 2.30pm until midnight on Saturday 10 June and 2.30pm until 8.30pm on Sunday 11 June, with a jam-packed line-up of musicians playing live including bands, solo artists, duos and DJs.
It’s completely free to attend but people will be admitted on a first come, first served basis.
The Oast House’s street food menu will also be on offer for those looking to line their stomachs during the festivities, featuring signature dishes such as Buffalo Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Bury Black Pudding Scotch Egg and Northern Poutine. Vegan options include the Plant Based Burger and Vegan Meatball Protein Bowl.