Heaton Park is preparing to host a spectacular festive celebration this winter – with Lightopia returning for a new, socially-distance edition of adventures, lights, lanterns, sculptures and shows.
The 2020 edition of Lightopia promises a feast for the senses, including dazzling sound and light displays and a socially-distanced magical illuminated trail.
The Grade I-listed Heaton Hall will serve as a backdrop to the new Christmas showcase – featuring Santa’s sleigh, glistening snowflakes and a giant interactive piano for guests to create their own winter soundtrack.
The festival will also be home to an immersive Astronomy display, Zodiac Sign installation, and Musical City that encourages visitors to dance their way through the lights.
The popular Animals attraction will return, and much-loved installations from 2019 can be re-visited in the Discovery space.
Kids can leap right into a fairytale of candy, flowers and characters at the Woodland Fairytale area, whilst the Lakeside water show promises a “visual masterpiece”.
Shimmering walkways have been designed to create a safe environment with wider footpaths to maintain social distancing, with dragon sculptures dotted around Lightopia’s food stalls and licensed bars.
There will also be three entry points to reduce queuing and direct access to two car parks.
Ian Xiang, Creative Director of Lightopia, says: “We are excited to bring Lightopia back to Manchester, and have once again created a world in which light, sculpture and art combine with traditional, Chinese lantern-making techniques to create an immersive experience, full of light and stories.
“We want our guests to become part of the Lightopia story, helping to create new forms of art as they interact and engage with the luminescent sculptures that trail through Heaton Park.”
Lightopia will be open to the public from Friday 20 November until Sunday 3 January.
Opening times are between 5pm to 10pm, and last entry is 8.30pm daily.
The event will remain closed on Mondays, Tuesdays (except during school holidays) Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Keep up to date with announcements via following Lightopia on Instagram and Facebook @lightopiafestival and Twitter @lightopiafest #Lightopia
Pretty Woman The Musical at Palace Theatre Manchester – a Hollywood dream come true
“Welcome to Hollywood. What’s your dream?” goes one of the most iconic lines in Pretty Woman, the musical version of which has just landed in Manchester.
And after the opening night of the theatre production of this beloved film, mine is to relive the experience over and over again.
There are tears, incredible voices, amazing outfits, and just generally the perfect remake of my favourite film.
After a record-breaking run on Broadway, Pretty Woman: The Musical opened at The Palace Theatre in Manchester last night, and my god it was brilliant.
If you don’t know the story line by now… then come on? Set in the 1980s, it begins with Edward (in the film, a suave Richard Gere) asking for directions in Hollywood Boulevard, and finding all the answers from Vivian (played by Julia Roberts in the film). And so the romance begins.
On stage, we kick off in the Blue Banana, and exactly like the film, we meet Vivian, Kit and the homeless man (or Paige Fenlon, Natalie Paris, and Ore Oduba, plus Ben Darcy as Edward). Their CVs include stints on SIX The Musical, Les Miserables, and Strictly Come Dancing.
Their voices will all blow you away, but my favourite on stage has to be Ore, transforming from the homeless man shouting ‘what’s your dream!’ to Mr Thompson in the hotel teaching Vivian to dance, to the conductor at the opera, a shop owner on Rodeo Drive and loads more roles.
He delivers brilliant transitions into every scene.
The theatre show has all the major moments from the film, like the iconic shopping scene, the day trip to a polo match, when he finally ‘sleeps’, and down to the most perfect costume of the red dress and the necklace for the opera. The voices of the opera singers are staggering, too.
With its own soundtrack compared to the film, there’s enough to lure in even those of us who have re-watched the film 100 times and can quote it line-for-line.
But Pretty Woman The Musical does wrap up with the titular song from the classic hit, and there’s something about the finale – the standing ovation, huge cheers and applause – that brings me to tears.
If you don’t have tickets yet, big mistake… HUGE!
Pretty Woman The Musical is on at the Palace Theatre in Manchester until Saturday 16 March, and it’s definitely not one to miss.
New ‘hobby house’ with loads of FREE crafty workshops opens in Manchester city centre
A new ‘hobby house’ with loads of FREE creative and crafty workshops to attend has just opened in Manchester.
Having opened down at Manchester’s growing neighbourhood, NOMA, the innovative new concept is called Altogether Otherwise, and is setting out to provide the Greater Manchester public with a welcome relief from all the demands and fast-paced culture of city centre life that we’ve, sadly, all become so used to.
Dubbed a ‘hobby house’, Altogether Otherwise is a “place to pursue creativity” and a chance to explore and get stuck into some new activities, all while bumping into like-minded people in an ever-changing gathering space.
An exciting lineup of workshops and events that are free to attend have also been announced.
A new ‘hobby house’ with loads of FREE crafty workshops has opened in Manchester city centre / Credit: NOMA (via Instagram)
Altogether Otherwise has seen a former disused printing house on Hanover Street in NOMA be transformed into 6,500 sq ft community space that’s open daily to the public.
Visitors can either step straight off the pavement into a welcoming front-of-house shop, or make their way through into a large workshop that’s apparently meant to offer “endless possibilities for making and meeting”.
On top of this, there’s also be a larger ‘village hall’-style space that’s dedicated to hosting participatory events and activities.
Pottery workshops, woodwork classes, mushroom growing sessions, an evening gardening club, sewing and knitting groups, running teams, and a book club are just some of the exciting interactive events already planned in the calendar for when the new space.
‘Altogether Otherwise’ is the latest venture for creative urbanist Ben Young / Credit: Supplied
‘Altogether Otherwise’ is the latest venture for creative urbanist Ben Young, and is a culmination of a decade of building a participatory neighbourhood down at NOMA.
Ben Young has described the new concept as a place where be people can “simply be”.
“Altogether Otherwise provides an escape from the results-orientated efficiency that has infiltrated every part of our lives,” he commented. “We’re providing a place to simply be, without having to justify or account for ourselves, as the hobbies we encourage are free-wheeling pursuits of aimless pleasure which act as a much-needed salve for a world dominated by achievement.