There are a couple of weeks of summer yet – and plenty of ways to make the most of it.
True, the weather might be up and down, but there’s loads happening in the region over the coming days.
We’ve put together a fresh edition of our ‘what’s on’ guide for the city of Manchester and beyond this week – cherry-picking the best bits.
Some of the events we’re going to mention here are completely free, others will set you back a few pounds, and many will need to be booked in advance – with plenty still taking COVID-safety measures to give you peace of mind.
Here are our top picks.
Runway Visitor Park
Monday 16 August – onwards
Manchester Airport’s tourist attraction Runway Visitor Park has officially reopened, with an exciting programme of activities on the cards this summer.
The airstrip-adjacent park is inviting visitors to take weekend tours of vintage aircraft – such as Concorde – board flight simulators, and gawp at classic vehicles as part of an upcoming events schedule, which is underway until September.
The programme features a wide range of highlights for history buffs and families alike, including historic vehicle club open days, an airport memorabilia fair, a military showcase, and so much more.
Live music performances have also been confirmed for the park’s memorabilia fair in August.
A brand new interactive story trail has arrived at Platt Fields Park for the summer.
The trail – which is based on a story about elves in the Fallowfield park written by children’s author Rebecca Lewis-Oakes and illustrated by Aaron Cushley – is delivered by the National Literacy Trust as one of 12 story trails across the country that are part of the Hungry Little Minds campaign.
The campaign provides children with lots of simple and fun activities to easily slot into their daily routines, all whilst building speech and language skills at home.
As well as the story trail, there will also be an elf garden and elf-making activities to get involved with, and everyone will walk away with a free book thanks to Read Manchester’s Look for a Book partnership.
You can find more information about the Platt Fields Park Story Trail here.
I’m A Celebrity… Jungle Challenge
Monday 16 August – onwards
Did you see that the highly-anticipated Salford Quays adventure attraction based on ITV’s popular survival reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! has officially opened to visitors?
The I’m a Celebrity… Jungle Challenge – which was first announced back in April – will welcome fans into the wilderness from this Saturday, inviting them to “navigate a series of fun-filled physical challenges inspired by the blockbuster ITV show”.
Located at MediaCityUK, the attraction features a variety of familiar vantage points and landmarks – including the Main Camp, the Throne and, of course, the Winner’s Bridge.
You can find more information and book tickets here.
Box on the Docks
Monday 16 August – onwards
MediaCityUK’s popular outdoor dining concept Box on the Docks (BOTD) is welcoming customers to its waterside ‘pods’ this week, with the collection of 30 sheds and greenhouses having undergone renovation from local artists.
An exciting range of residents have moved into the neighbourhood for the summer, along with beloved local eateries from across the region such as The Spinn, Grandad’s Sausages, I Knead Pizza, Bada Bing Deli, and Batard Bakery.
You can find more information about Box on the Docks 2021 here.
Wonderland: Summer Holiday Activities
RHS Garden Bridgewater
Monday 16 – 31 August
Families will be able to “tumble down the rabbit hole” and be transported to Alice’s Wonderland at RHS Garden Bridgewater this summer.
The Royal Horticultural Society is partnering with Macmillan Publishers to celebrate 150 years of Alice in Wonderland – bringing a series of themed events inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic novel to the new £44 million garden attraction in Worsley throughout August.
Visitors can view the new garden through the eyes of Alice, meet their favourite characters, and enjoy performances, storytelling, minibeast hunts, planting and craft workshops, and so much more.
You can find more information about the events on offer here.
Monday 16 August – 5 September
An 8,000 sq ft beach, retro fairground rides, entertainment, and independent food and drink brands have all arrived at the Trafford Centre for the summer.
The region’s biggest shopping mall has announced the opening of its new ‘Summer Social’ event space – a vast new outdoor area that brings together all the fun of the fair, alongside a beach, live music, exciting pop-ups, and selfie-ready backdrops.
As well as several covered events spaces where people can safely relax, a number of independent food and drink brands will also be popping up over the summer, kicking off with Boujee Bar – the renowned, all-pink Instagrammer’s dream founded by Real Housewives of Cheshire star Lystra Adams.
Live musicians, street artists, and buskers will also be welcomed across the month at Summer Social.
You can find more information and grab your tickets here.
Big Top in the Park
Prince’s Park, Irlam
Monday 16 – Saturday 21 August
The Lowry is hosting Big Top in the Park this week – a community festival bringing “fun, frolic and laughter for all the family” to Princes Park in Irlam.
Working with Lost in Translation Circus, and in association with Irlam & Cadishead Community Festival – which is celebrating a major anniversary this year – and Salford City Council, The Lowry wants to make sure as many people in the local community as possible have the chance to make the most of cultural experiences on their doorsteps.
There will be a whole host of great circus events, family shows, late night comedy, music and family workshop activities to take part in.
Ticket prices start at £10, and you can find more information here.
National Football Museum
Wednesday 18 August – onwards
The summer holidays of 2021 have proven a little more challenging for families than usual thanks to the classic Manchester rain, but it’s at times like these we should consider ourselves fortunate we’ve got the National Football Museum right on our doorstep.
English football’s flagship cultural venue is playing host to a range of interactive exhibitions this month, offering four floors of indoor family-friendly activities all under cover.
Not only is there loads to see and do here away from the unseasonably wet and windy weather for both parents and kids alike, it’s also the perfect way to whet your appetite for the new football season that’s just kicked off.
You can find more information about everything happening at the National Football Museum this summer here.
Use Hearing Protection
Science and Industry Museum
Wednesday 18 August – onwards
A special exhibition documenting the formation and early years of the iconic Factory Records has officially opened at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum.
The exhibition also examines the period 1978 to 1982, revealing how the label grew and thrived to give the city an authentic voice and distinctive identity, and visitors will be guided through the pre-Haçienda years to uncover the history of the label and how it earned its status as a catalyst for innovation through rarely or never-before-seen objects.
The first 50 artefacts from the official Factory Records catalogue are on display, including creations from Joy Division, New Order, The Durutti Column, and so much more.
Great Northern Beach Club is screening episodes of the hugely-popular ITV2 reality show Love Island every Wednesday and Thursday this summer until the series ends.
Grab up to five mates and make your way to the mambo-style Sunset Lounge for “Balearic vibes and tropical banter” from the Love Island villa, and what better way than to watch the drama unfold than with a magnum of prosecco in your very-own private beach hut that comes complete with a TV screen and personal drinks host.
Each beach hut will set you back £50 for up to six people, and you can book here.
The Laughięnda Comedy Club
Thursday 19 August
If you’re looking to let your hair down for a mid-week laugh, then a selection of Manchester’s top new comedians assemble every Thursday night at the Lions Den bar at Great Northern Mews in the heart of the city centre for The Laughięnda Comedy Club.
With comedian lineups usually revealed closer to the time, you can find more information about what to expect here.
Thursday 19 – Sunday 22 August
Park N Party – the team that delivered both the sell-out successes of ScareCity, ChristmasCity and a number of other outdoor live events throughout 2020 – has launched a new venture titled SecretCity, and there’s a whole host of immersive drive-in entertainment events happening this week.
There’s screenings of scary cinema favourites including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The First Purge, Jigsaw, Rocky Horror Picture Show and more all on show throughout the week.
Tickets must be booked in advance, and you can grab yours from £35 per car here.
Harry, Harriet & The Pirates
Saturday 21 August
Death By Pie / Dan Burgess Photography
Award-winning theatre company is bringing a family-friendly outdoor adventure filled with original live music, audience interaction, and slapstick comedy to several popular Greater Manchester parks this summer.
A synopsis for the show on the Death By Pie website reads: “If there was ever an award for ‘Least Likely to be a Pirate’ it would definitely go to Harriet Pippin, but somehow, little Harriet has managed to get aboard not one but two pirate ships and it is now up to her to find the treasure, stop two rival pirate gangs from fighting each other, and still get home in time for her Mum’s beef stew.”
This Saturday’s show at Alexandra Park in Manchester is a “pay what you can afford” performance.
Nestled among the backstreets of Manchester and tucked into the courtyard of an old, red-brick historic mill, Ancoats Pop Up Market is a weekly-run market event which has teamed up with MUD (Manchester Urban Diggers) to supply the neighbourhood with a wealthy selection of fresh, organic and locally-grown fruit and veg, as well as dry goods.
The market also features Manchester-based stallholders serving speciality coffee, locally-brewed rum liquors, locally-sourced bakes and crafts, and more.
Street food and freshly-brewed coffee is also available while you browse.
StreamGM and The Manc have teamed up to show some serious love and support to the region’s renowned theatres, nightclubs, and live-music venues with the launch of SeeGM – a digital campaign to shine a bright spotlight on many of the amazing events, club nights, gigs and shows in our region.
Featured Image – National Football Museum | Trafford Centre
Chatting with DJ Fabio ahead of ‘A History of Jungle, Drum and Bass’ with Grooverider and The Outlook Orchestra
Ahead of their upcoming tour next year, we got the chance to one-half of legendary DJing duo, Fabio and Grooverider, who’ll be coming to Manchester early next year.
‘The Godfathers of Drum and Bass’ were there at the very start of it all and have been able to see how the genre, along with offshoots like jungle, has evolved over the years — so it’s only right that they be the ones to deliver a real education to ravers and newcomers this January.
Bringing their ‘History of Jungle and Drum & Bass’ to the Manchester Academy on Saturday, 13 January, 0161 is just one of three places that have been chosen for the limited run of shows and, as Fabio told us on the call, it because this city has a rich relationship with the genre and pioneering underground music in general.
So you’ve got the tour starting in the New Year and it’s a very limited run of shows — what can you tell us about what you’ve got in store?
What we’ve got in store is the best of live drum and bass and something very unique thing. It’s a great show and honestly, even if I wasn’t involved in this I’d go along and definitely enjoy it.
It’s everything that we expected and with a project like this, it’s not something that’s not really been done before, especially not with an orchestra of this size, anyway.
We want it to sound authentic and that’s what’s happened with the band; The [Outlook] Orchestra’s amazing, the musicians are great and it’s a very entertaining two hours.
How have you found building this as a full production with the Orchestra and fine-tuning everyone’s performances on stage?
Well, over the course of our careers in general, it’s just got a lot tighter and we’ve all got a lot more confident. You’ve got to remember when this all started we’d never done anything like it before, you know — we’re DJs and we were on BBC Radio 1 for 14 years and then Kiss for seven.
Public speaking is a completely different thing than speaking in front of a mic, so that was really daunting at first, I’ve got to say; the first one we did I was really nervous and we still get that sense of anticipation, but where it was a bit around the edge at the start, the audience didn’t know that and now I’d say it’s almost 100% the way we want it.
We’ve been doing it two years now and, yeah, it’s just a process of tweaking those fine margins and getting your timings right — when you’ve got 40 musicians, even if you’re a millisecond off it can kind of throw everything.
Sounds like you’ve really nailed it. The idea of a ‘History of Jungle and Drum & Bass’ — how far back are you going into the genre and how do you think it’s changed over the years?
So we go back to 1992. It’s crazy for us to think that was 31 years ago, but yeah, we’re going right back to the beginning and we literally break up the set into years: ’92-93, 94-96 and so on into the 2000s.
I think it has changed over time and you can certainly hear it when you compare the likes of the first track we do, Johnny L’s ‘Hurt You So’, which is kind of like jungle techno, to the modern-day stuff which gets on the radio now, it’s different. But that’s the great thing about both genres, they move on real quick.
Say if you’re a drum and bass head now and took a year off and then came back, you’d be like, ‘What is this?’ but drum and bass is always like that, every single year.
It’s going through a great time at the moment, probably the best in three decades. It’s bigger now than I think that it’s ever been and I think it’s because it’s been accepted by the public get it; they understand it more and it’s less of a niche.
People have always known about house music but now people actually recognise the big names like Chase and Status, Pendulum and so on. It’s in a very healthy place and I know some of the real purists are a little bit p*ssed and feel it’s gone a bit commercial but the underground scene is still there and I don’t think that will ever die.
Yeah, and I suppose that’s what the beauty of events like these is you can play to both of those crowds. Do you find the audience has that mix?
Well, that’s why we’ve tried to get that fine balance between big tunes that your everyday, casual listener will recognise as well as keep some underground stuff in so the real ‘heads’ can come and dive into it.
It’s been very deliberate and we’ve sat down to really think about how to strike that combination and it’s another thing that’s been done really well.
And, obviously, you guys are London kings but how big a role do you think Manchester has played in the scene and how it’s progressed?
Oh man, it’s always been really important. Going back to A Guy Called Gerald who was one of the first truly big English producers, when people listened to ‘Voodoo Ray’, even the Americans thought was a guy from New York and he’s a bit of an unsung hero really.
He made some of the first jungle tunes as well, so we’ve always felt the influence and link with Manchester, especially over the last 10 to 15 years when it’s been really, really strong here.
You know, you’ve got DRS and, of course, had Marcus Intellect, God bless his soul, who always flew the flag for Manchester, you know what I’m saying? And, um, you know, there’s a really healthy, uh, seed in Manchester.
Strategy, Dogger, Mindstate: a lot of those guys are very important to drum and Bass and a lot of them grew up knowing each other as well, which is cool. We’ve also got Jenna G in the show and not only is she from Manchester but she’s one of the real highlights of the show, she’s absolutely amazing.
Also, it’s really important that we put on a good show because the Manchester crowd know their sh*t as well — you can’t really con them.
Absolutely, and in terms of artists right now, whether they’re from Manchester or elsewhere, who’s really exciting you at the minute?
I mean, the staple is obviously Chase and Status who have helped get [the genre] some radio play to the point where there were four drum and bass tracks in the top 40 just last year. Absolutely insane.
Hedex and all those guys are also helping grow the underground scene but, honestly, there’s too many names to mention that lifting up others so we’re in a real good spot at the minute.
Are there any favourite Manchester venues that come to mind?
Band on the Wall — I LOVE it in there and, of course, Warehouse Project which is basically flying the flag for drum and bass across Britain right now. It’s possibly the hottest venue in the UK so, yeah, Manchester was always a no-brainer and we’re really looking forward to coming there.
Nice, and lastly, if you could describe the upcoming shows in three words what would they be?
Featured Images — Supplied/@matthiggs (via Instagram)
The best Christmas light trails in Greater Manchester and beyond
Greater Manchester has been invaded, with so many light trails taking place this year it feels like you’ve been swarmed by fireflies.
There are light trails in parks, light trails in the city, light trails in zoos and light trails in gardens.
There’s a style to suit every taste too, whether you’re into a colourful, nostalgic Christmas, or ultra-tasteful festivities that take your breath away.
There’s even a light trail that will hit the brief if you’re particularly interested in blending winter light trails with disco music…
So we’ve travelled the length and breadth of the north west to pick out the best light trails that are worth your time and money this Christmas.
Know of one we’ve missed? Reach out to us through our socials.
Christmas at Heaton Park, Manchester
A brand new festive light trail has opened in Manchester this winter, filling Heaton Park with glowing orbs, neon trees, and fairylit tunnels.
The spectacular new festive event loops around the park’s lake, where installations on the water include colourful ships and light beams.
And down in the woods you’ll find a laser garden, a flurry of bubbles, larger-than-life glowing flowers, and twinkling pink trees.
You can stop off at a festive teepee for a mulled wine, toast your marshmallows on an open fire, and whizz around the fairground rides at the end too. Did we mention the whole trail is dog-friendly, too?
Adult standard tickets £18 | Running until 31 December | Tickets here
Manchester’s newest city centre park, Mayfield Park, has been transformed into a festive ‘Twilight Trail’ for the first time ever this Christmas.
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.
And at the end you can dive into Winter Island, Freight Island’s Christmas season, and grab yourself some food and drink, from a build-your-own boozy hot chocolate bar from Cocoa Cabana, to the Smoking Coal German BBQ, serving a whole bratwurst menu, Schweinshaxe in a bun, and a classic hog roast butty.
Adult tickets £10 | Running until 31 December | Tickets here
The Twilight Trail is now open, and running right through until the new year, and you can find out more and grab tickets here.
Put Big Light On Bolton, Bolton
Easily the light trail with the best name in Greater Manchester is Put Big Light On Bolton, which has a range of light installations installed in the town centre.
There’s everything from a giant moon by Luke Jerram to a Dan Archer creation that brings the Northern Lights to our hometown.
There are special events taking place around the light festival too – but most of it wraps up this weekend, so you’ll have to move fast.
The completely free Lightwaves Festival is back at Salford Quays this week for its 10th instalment, this time with 15 artworks – three of which are brand new commissions.
Highlights include a luminescent artwork in the shape of a six-metre-long whale shark, complete with transparent fish scales, and a tunnel of giant mirrored rings across the piazza that people can walk through.
Then there are giant glowing flowers and a fire garden you can roam around too.
7-10 December | Free, no tickets needed
Castlefield Viaduct, Manchester city centre
Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester, the lush National Trust site built up on a disused railway viaduct, is inviting visitors to see the urban green space by nightfall.
There’ll be a free Lantern Lates series where the park will transform into a ‘magical, sparkling grotto’.
Visitors can climb up to Castlefield Viaduct , the huge industrial landmark that has views right across Manchester city centre, and savour the winter wonderland created for the coming season.
It’s before the National Trust project closes for a few weeks in the new year for work to refresh the gardens for spring and summer.
A brand-new immersive experience has opened at Chester Zoo for the festive season this week.
Lanterns and Light gives visitors the chance to explore captivating light installations and be transported into enchanting lands filled with colour and festivity, all while meeting orangutans, lions, dolphins, and woolly mammoths as they make their way along the trail.
There’s also colour changing displays stretching as far as the eye can see, birds and stars adorning the zoo’s winding paths and trees, and a spectacular Winter Cathedral tunnel of lights.
Until 31 December | Adult tickets £22 | Buy tickets here.