NHS staff are to be given free tickets to the opening night of this year’s pantomime Sleeping Beauty at Manchester Opera House this Christmas.
As a thank you to healthcare staff for all their hard work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic this year, the arts venue has announced NHS staff will be entitled to enter a ballot to win tickets for the first night of the pantomime.
The opening night for Sleeping Beauty is Saturday 12th December.
This year’s production – which has been created especially for Manchester Opera House in this unprecedented year – will be “a riotously funny, one-act celebration of pantomime” and it’s set to be packed full of comedy and laughter to allow audience members the opportunity to come safely together and enjoy the magic of the much-loved and unique art form this festive season.
Funding from The National Lottery has helped panto return to the Opera House Manchester this year.
Sleeping Beauty stars Salford-born Jason Manford as Muddles, with comic legend Billy Pearce as King Billy, musical theatre leading lady Jodie Prenger as the Enchantress, and Eric Potts as the Queen in this year’s “unmissable family production”.
Announcing the well-deserved perk for NHS staff, Sheena Wrigley – Theatre Director at Manchester Palace and Opera House, said: “We are thrilled at the prospect of working with Qdos Pantomimes and reopening the historic Manchester Opera House with this festive family show.
“It’s especially important that we can play our part in keeping one of the city’s great Christmas traditions alive after what has been an especially challenging time for communities in Greater Manchester.
“Our wonderful NHS staff can enter a ballot for free tickets for their families – our way of saying a huge ‘thank you’ for everything they’ve done this year.”
Sleeping Beauty is running at the Opera House Manchester from 12th December 2020 – 3rd January 2021, with a relaxed performance on Thursday 31st December, and NHS workers will need to head to healthservicediscounts.com to register for the ballot between now and 29th November.
Just type ATG/Sleeping Beauty/Opera House in the search bar, and winners will be notified by 7th December.
Ticket prices otherwise start from £13, and can be booked in bubbles of up to six.
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Opera House Manchester’s capacity is being reduced by 50%, there’ll be staggered arrival times and one way systems in place, with sanitising stations placed around the venue, and deep cleaning taking place between every performance.
The best things to do in Greater Manchester this week | 4 – 10 December 2023
December is well and truly underway now, and so are all the festivities.
We know we’ve been talking about it for weeks at this point, but there’s no denying ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ is upon us now, is there? And so it’s absolutely no surprise that the Greater Manchester events calendar is absolutely jam-packed with all sorts of festive celebrations and activities to get stuck into as Christmas nears closer.
If you’re finding it a bit tricky to pick what to do though, luckily, we’ve chosen a few of the best bits for another edition of our ‘what’s on‘ guide this week.
Here’s some of our recommendations.
Manchester Christmas Markets 2023
Manchester City Centre
Monday 4 – Thursday 21 December
It’s that time of year once again… Manchester Christmas Markets are officially open for 2023.
The iconic annual event is an absolute staple in Manchester’s festive events calendar, and always draws in thousands of visitors from all across the globe – with more than 225 stalls across nine sites now lining the streets of our city this year.
Visitors can tuck into a wide range of festive foods and drinks, and shop for Christmas gifts from countless independent traders.
Find out everything you need to know about Manchester Christmas Markets 2023 here.
Monday 4 – Sunday 31 December
What’s a festive season in the city without Skate Manchester?
Back once again for 2023 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 right up until the new year.
With the covered rink’s convenient roof allowing everyone to enjoy the ice, whatever the weather, visitors of all ages are invited to glide over the ice and admire the glorious Christmas tree right in the centre.
This brand-new immersive experience is made up of several spectacular light displays, unique lantern installations, and a captivation sound-scape dotted around the pristine new park – with each circuit estimated to take around half an hour.
The Twilight Trail is now open, and running right through until the new year, and you can find out more and grab tickets here.
East Lancashire Railway
Monday 4 – Sunday 24 December
East Lancashire Railway’s beloved Santa steam train rides are back for more festive fun this Christmas.
Running right through until Christmas Eve, ELR’s ‘Santa Specials‘ are your chance to hop on board an old-school steam train and travel through the magical Irwell Valley to make “enchanted memories” that last a lifetime.
The famous festive steam trains have become an essential part of Christmas for many families in the North West, and there’s still some tickets left available.
Have you heard that Sides, the already-viral chicken shop launched by YouTubers The Sidemen, has now opened its doors here in Manchester?
Having joined the collection of food and drink outlets in Halle Place at Manchester Arndale, Sides has a menu centred around double-coated Nashville tenders, which are tossed 120 times (no more, no less), and if you’re into your wings their seven signature sauces are the perfect addition.
There’s also crispy chicken wings, burgers, chicken and waffles, and a whole host of other side dishes like waffle fries, mac n cheese bites, BBQ beans, chilli poppers, and halloumi sticks.
While Bar Hütte at Great Northern Square is heading back to Deansgate, with 15 cosy private hüttes neatly-positioned under a heated stretch tent and twinkling lights, Bar Hütte at Kampus will also see a new outdoor terrace, comprising of eight snug, wooden karaoke hüttes nestled beneath the trees, and an ‘Aprés Ski Bungalow’ serving as an indoor alpine bar.
Cheshire Oaks’ beloved grotto looks a little different to usual in 2023.
That’s because the big man in red and his trusty elves are taking to the skies once again this year, and are inviting you on a fantastical festive adventure on the outlet’s ‘Big Wheel’.
Open every weekend and on selected weekday dates throughout December, 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.
A brand-new breathtaking light trail has officially opened at Heaton Park this Christmas.
Transforming the popular Manchester park into a twinkling winter wonderland, visitors will get to walk through fields of colour-changing orbs of light, venture among larger-than-life glowing flowers, and even wander through a giant twinkling tunnel as part of the all-new seasonal light display.
Neon strings will reach high into the sky and a laser garden will light up its space with thousands of tiny beams of light.
Have you heard there’s a brand-new winter menu at The Botanist?
The Botanist may have already been known for its imaginative food and drink creations for quite some time now, but its new winter menu for 2023 is something else – with everything from indulgent sharing boards, oozy Camembert bread loaves, and mouthwatering twists on Christmas classics on the lineup to choose from.
Some of the other stand-out dishes have to be the classic turkey hanging kebabs, pies topped with pigs in blankets, and s’mores cookie dough skillets.
Land of Lights has transformed Gulliver’s World in Warrington into an immersive winter wonderland with 12 “vivid dreamworlds” full of dozens of gigantic lanterns that are inspired by animals, mega monuments, and wonders of the natural world.
As the sun goes down and the nights draw in, visitors to the North West attraction can explore an amazing array of light installations as they walk all around the park.
A whole host of classic Christmas films are hitting the big screen at the little cinema tucked away inside King Street Townhouse this month.
With a marathon of three films set to be screened on each day of the event, the Christmas screenings schedule kicks off this Saturday with the absolute cult-classic that is Elf – which is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its release this year – all before you can sit down to watch Love Actually, and Home Alone on the same day.
Other festive favourites on the lineup across other weekends include It’s a Wonderful Life, The Holiday, The Muppet Christmas Carol, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Bad Santa.
Manchester’s ‘Festive Sundays’ have made a comeback this Christmas after thousands flocked to see the enchanting events last year.
After proving to be a smash-hit success during the inaugural year in 2022, the city centre’s main shopping streets will be filled with “captivating” parades and performances that are set to “surprise visitors of all ages”.
Organised by Manchester BID, the free event series sees roaming performers and illuminated acts take to the streets across St Ann’s Square, King Street, Exchange Street, New Cathedral Street, Exchange Square, and Manchester Arndale every Sunday until 17 December.
Find out more about on the ‘Festive Sundays’ lineup here.
Featured Image – Chester Zoo | The Botanist | CityCo
The Killers to play THREE huge gigs in Manchester next summer
The Killers have announced three massive arena shows here in Manchester for next summer on their Rebel Diamonds Tour.
The Las Vegas indie rock legends have announced the tour to celebrate 20 years of hits together, and will release a brand new compilation album of the same name next week.
The Rebel Diamonds Tour will mark the first time The Killers have played arena shows in the UK since 2017, though they wowed huge crows with their summer show at Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground last summer.
The Killers will be at the Co-op Live arena for three nights in June 2024, with other shows announced in Dublin, London and Glasgow.
The group, consisting of Brandon Flowers (vocals), Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (drums), Dave Keuning (guitar), and Mark Stoermer (bass), are behind massive hits including Mr Brightside, When You Were Young, Read My Mind and Human.
They’ll bring together some of those huge hits from their back catalogue into the new Rebel Diamond album.
It will feature at least one song from each of the band’s seven studio albums, from their groundbreaking debut Hot Fuss to the band’s latest release Pressure Machine.
Brandon Flowers said of the record: “See it’s been said that what’s remembered lives, and we’ve racked up stadiums full of memories the past twenty years, enough to fill lifetimes. Twenty songs for twenty years – Rebel Diamonds.”
The Killers will perform at the Co-Op Live in Manchester on 18, 19 and 21 June 2024.
Tickets will go on sale at 9.30am on Friday 8 December through See Tickets.