The glitz and glamour of the Strictly Come Dancing will come shimmying into Manchester this weekend when the hit show’s live tour returns to the AO Arena.
With four shows lined up at the venue over the course of the next two days, it’s one of the biggest events in this year’s cultural calendar.
The massive Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour 2023 spans 32 shows across the UK, with recent celebrity contestants paired up with the BBC show’s professional dancers.
The Strictly judges, Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas, and Anton Du Beke, will be on hand with their pantomime villain-esque take on the performances.
Speaking about the upcoming tour, Fleur East said: “As a huge Strictly fan, being part of the TV competition has been an unbelievable experience and I’m absolutely over the moon to have the chance to get back into those fabulous sequinned outfits for the live tour!”
Helen Skelton said: “Strictly has been the adventure of a lifetime and I’m so happy that it will continue on the live tour. I’m really looking forward to seeing the fans across the country and performing my favourite dances from the series. I can’t wait!”
When is Strictly Come Dancing Live at the AO Arena?
There are four Strictly shows lined up in Manchester at the AO Arena, making it one of the biggest stops on the tour.
Strictly Come Dancing the Live Tour will be on both Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January 2023.
The shows will take place at 1pm and 6pm on Saturday, and 12pm and 5pm on Sunday.
What’s the show’s format?
Directed again by Craig Revel Horwood, the Strictly Live Tour showcases all the choreography, live music and sparkle of the much-loved TV series.
Seven celebrity contestants and their professional dance partners will twirl and shimmy their way across the AO Arena ballroom floor, ready for the tour judges to provide their wisdom and scores.
But it’s the audience who ultimately call the shots, voting for their favourites via text from within the arena, with a champion crowned at the end of every show.
Which celebrities are taking part?
This year’s Strictly champions Hamza Yassin and Jowita Przystal are on the line-up, along with runners-up Helen Skelton and Kai Widdrington, Fleur East and Vito Coppola, and Molly Rainford and Carlos Gu.
Also hoping to lift the Strictly Live Tour glitterball trophy are Will Mellor and Nancy Xu, Ellie Simmonds and Nikita Kuzmin, and Tyler West and Dianne Buswell.
Ready for the huge professional numbers there’ll be six more professional dancers heading out on tour – Amy Dowden, Neil Jones, Robbie Kmetoni, Jake Leigh, Luba Mushtuk and Michelle Tsiakkas.
Can I still buy tickets?
You can, actually! There’s limited availability for the afternoon performances but still a fair few tickets for the evening shows.
Those remaining tickets are priced between £42.50 to £64.95.
Stockport is hosting a Town of Culture Weekender with 50+ events – and it’s all FREE
Stockport will be marking its current Town of Culture title later this month, and it’s set to see the town come together for a huge celebration.
In case you missed it, Stockport was named Greater Manchester’s ‘Town of Culture’ for 2023 back in May of last year, so what better way to celebrate the coveted title than hosting a weekend packed full of cultural festivities for all the family, with access to some of the town’s must-visit venues? We can’t think of one.
And the Stockport Town of Culture Weekender is setting out to do just that.
With over 50 events and activities taking place over the weekend of Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 March, the Town of Culture Weekender will shine a light on the impressive variety of culture and creativity happening in the Greater Manchester town, as well as the work and projects that’ve been delivered during the duration of the ‘Town of Culture’ year so far.
Marking the end of the town’s ‘Town of Culture’ status with a bang, activities will be taking place at 25 locations across the Stockport borough.
Over the two days, visitors will be given the opportunity to explore some exciting new spaces, all while enjoying an event programme packed with live music, art, comedy, and history.
So, what are some of the dozens of free events you can get stuck into over the two days then?
Well, for starters, the newly-opened town centre park – which is the first green space in the UK to be built on top of a transport interchange, in case you didn’t know – will play host to many of the activities across the weekend.
A ‘Carnival of the Animals’ parade, which is curated by carnival arts organisation, Global Grooves, and features giant animal puppets, is one of the stand-out events on the lineup, but some of the other highlights have to include a grandpa comedy duo, live music with Pandemonium Steel Band, Tai Chi and Yoga taster classes, and a Stockport Sculpture Trail too.
Music and dance will be showcased at venues including Merseyway Shopping Centre, AMP, Petersgate Tap, Magnet, Spinning Top and the Market Place, while Stockport Library will be bringing fun to little ones with a Bluey Day full of games and crafts based on the popular animation series.
There’ll be more than 50 FREE events across 25 town centre locations / Credit: One Stockport (Supplied)
A series of Stockport-themed walks, tours, and activities will also take place across the weekend, while The War Memorial Gallery will also be hosting the Stockport Rising Exhibition showcasing the works of five local celebrated artists.
And, for those interested in exploring the town’s many attractions, there’s set to be free entry for all over the weekend – including the newly re-opened Hat Works Musuem, the Stockport Air Raid Shelters, and Stockport Museum.
Stockport Town of Culture Weekender is taking place on Saturday 23 and Sunday 25 March, and you can find more information ahead of the event here.
Featured Image – One Stockport (Supplied)
A pug cafe with a ball pit and themed cakes is opening in Salford today
A cafe where you can hang out with pugs while you tuck into your coffee and cake is opening in Salford today – and this time it’s permanent.
There’ve been plenty of pop-up dog cafes in Greater Manchester over the years, but CuppaPug will be putting down roots on Chapel Street for good.
Inside the bright pink space – described as a pug playground – there’ll be a ball pit and a pug wall, as well as 10 resident pugs.
And on the menu there’ll be smoothies, milkshakes, coffees, teas and cakes all inspired by the adorable squashy-faced pooches.
This Salford cafe will be the second location for CuppaPug, which launched in London in 2022.
The business was launched by owners Aaron Carty and Matt Pieterse, with the aim to create a safe and nurturing pug community.
They’ve been working with charities and organisations that rescue and rehome the popular breed, while educating owners. Those charity partners include National Pug Protection Trust, Manchester Pug Thing and Pug Life Rescue, where £1 from each booking is donated towards the rescue and rehoming of pugs.
Aaron is an ex-police officer turned digital media producer, as well as a successful drag queen performer as part of the Beyonce Experience that was seen on Britain’s Got Talent and UK Black Pride.
Guests can hang out with pugs at the new CuppaPug cafe in SalfordThere are pink interiors and 10 resident pugs at the CuppaPug cafe in Salford
Meanwhile Matt is a professional actor known for his roles on Channel 4’s Bleach, plus short film Mild Thing.
And completing the CuppaPug family are the pair’s resident pugs, Gaston, Bruce, Bowser, Beau, Gizmo, Bebe, and Baloo.
Speaking about where the idea of CuppaPug came from, Aaron said: “Our inspiration was to create an environment, a pug playground where the pugs can play and people can safely engage with the pugs.
“We want our customers to have an instant smile on their faces as they enter CuppaPug, we want them to feel the warmth and joy that pugs can bring and feel that spike in pleasure from hugging a pug.
CuppaPug founders Aaron Carty and Matt Pieterse. Credit: SuppliedCuppaPug founders Aaron Carty and Matt Pieterse. Credit: Supplied
“We are so excited to be opening in Manchester, it’s a fantastic city. We are so humbled by the families from the North travelling to London for a day trip just to spend an hour with our pugs. We thought we owed it to those pug lovers to open a second site up here.”
Matt said: “CuppaPug’s vision is to firstly amplify the education of owning a dog, the responsibility and commitment it takes, continuing to share our pugs with people to bring them joy, help with mind wellness and mental health and rescue pugs.
“Manchester has an amazing pug community as well as its own non-profit organisation ‘Manchester Pug Thing’ that we wanted to help, not only with regular donations but to amplify the organisation and the work they do.”
The 10 resident dogs for the new Salford pug cafe have been chosen through a six-week application and rehearsal process, with 60 dogs whittled down to the final 10.
CuppaPug opens on Chapel Street in Salford today (Friday 1 March). You can book one-hour slots to visit at £15 per person here.