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The best things to do in Greater Manchester this week | 20 – 26 December 2021, The Manc

The best things to do in Greater Manchester this week | 20 – 26 December 2021

The week the whole month has been leading up to is finally here.

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No matter how hard we try, there’s absolutely no denying it now – the festive season really is in full swing. And the region has been suitably been getting into the Christmas spirit, with absolutely no shortage of things to be doing this week, so we’ve cherry-picked a few of the best bits to put together another fresh edition of our ‘what’s on’ guide for the city of Manchester.

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.

Plenty are still taking COVID-safety measures to give you peace of mind though.

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Here’s our top picks.

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Manchester Christmas Markets

Manchester City Centre

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Monday 20 – Wednesday 22 December

This is your last couple of days to make the most of the Manchester Christmas Markets in 2021.

After Manchester City Council confirmed the return of the iconic event – which spreads festive cheer right across the city centre, and draws in visitors from all across the globe each year – Piccadilly Gardens has taken over the reigns from Albert Square as the heart of the markets event as the town hall regeneration project continues.

The area has become the ‘Winter Gardens’, and ionic market huts have also been set up on nine different sites across the city.

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This year’s markets will run right through until Wednesday 22 December 2021.

You can find out more about Manchester Christmas Markets here, and about all the Christmas and Winter Markets in Manchester here.

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Aladdin

Manchester Opera House

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Monday 20 December 2021 – Sunday 2 January 2022

The best things to do in Greater Manchester this week | 20 – 26 December 2021, The Manc
Credit: Palace and Opera

X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke, and local comedian Ben Nickeless are among the names starring in this year’s festive pantomime at Manchester Opera House.

Promising theatre fans “everything you could wish for in a panto”, a festive production of Aladdin has arrived in Manchester city centre, and will see Alexandra Burke make her pantomime debut as The Spirit of The Ring, joined by local comedian Ben Nickless as Aladdin’s hapless brother Wishee Washee.

Aladdin runs right through until Sunday 2 January 2022.

Find out more, and grab tickets here.

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Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records 

Science and Industry Museum

Monday 20 December 2021 – Monday 3 January 2022

After a successful six-month run, there’s now only a few weeks left to grab tickets to see the Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records exhibition at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester.

Since opening to the public back in June, over 25,000 visitors from all across Greater Manchester and beyond have had the chance to experience the popular exhibition, which uncovers the lesser-known stories of one of Manchester’s most influential record labels, Factory Records, and celebrates its place at the heart of the city and in the UK’s music and creative industries.

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Visitors have been guided through the lesser-known story of the pre-Haçienda years to learn all about the history of Factory Records label and discover how it earned its status as a catalyst for innovation.

The critically-acclaimed exhibition is set to close on 3 January 2022.

Find out more and grab tickets here.

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Christmas at Cheshire Oaks

Cheshire Oaks

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Monday 20 December – onwards

If you’re on the last minutes with your Christmas shopping, then there’s arguably no better place in the north west to get yourself down to than Cheshire Oaks.

Cheshire Oaks is the largest Designer Outlet in the UK, home to over 400,000 square feet of retail space with more than 150 boutiques, restaurants, and cafés to choose from, and there’s up to 60% off the RRP in all of the brands on site too, all year round.

But even though Christmas shopping is probably at the front of your mind right now, that’s not all you could be getting up to at the outlet throughout December.

We’ve rounded-up everything happening at Cheshire Oaks this festive season here.

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Lightopia

Heaton Park

Monday 20 December – 3 January 2022

Award-winning illuminations event Lightopia has returned to Heaton Park for the third year running, and has this year brought some new “festive fantasy” installations, lanterns, and light shows to Manchester.

That’s not all that’s new this year though, as nestled in the park’s woodland and surrounded by lanterns, 10 illuminated ‘Dining Domes’ make for a unique and atmospheric dining experience for families, friends and couples, while The Stables Courtyard Bar and Dining offers a more casual dining experience, with food, music and festive spirit under a heated canopy.

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Lightopia has also announced a new charity initiative called Light of Love that will be supporting a range of local organisations around Greater Manchester this year too.

You can find out more, and grab tickets to Lightopia here.

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Van Gogh Alive

MediaCityUK

Monday 20 December – 23 January 2022

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Van Gogh Alive is in full swing over at MediaCityUK.

It’s “the world’s most visited immersive, multi-sensory experience” that exhibits the life and work of the seminal Dutch artist and after having welcomed over eight million visitors in 70 cities around the world – including sell-out runs in London and Birmingham – the art and culture experience is now destined for Salford.

Van Gogh Alive takes people on a trip through the periods of Van Gogh’s life that defined him as an artist and showcases 3,000 images, including some of his most iconic works like Starry Night and Sunflowers, and lesser-known paintings inspired by his love of Japanese woodprints. 

The exhibition is home to a life-sized walk-in representation of Van Gogh’s ‘Bedroom in Arles’ painting, a ‘Sunflower selfie room’ – a 360° mirrored space complete with hundreds of sunflowers, and so much more

You can find more information here.

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Christmas Lights Sculpture Trail

Manchester City Centre

Monday 20 December – onwards

After captivating visitors in years gone by, 10 twinkly Christmas light sculptures have been brought to life in the city centre once again.

Among the festive sculptures to keep your eyes peeled for will be some giant walk-through baubles, star-spangled archways, a 36ft Christmas tree, and a colour-changing word sculpture that spells out ‘Merry Christmas MCR’, as well as some returning favourites.

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This year, the sculptures are all dotted around Piccadilly Gardens and St Peter’s Square.

You can find out more here.

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Cancer Revolution: Science, innovation, and hope

Science and Industry Museum

Monday 20 December – onwards

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A new world-first free exhibition that’s set to explore the revolution in science that is transforming cancer care has opened to the public at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester.

The Science Museum Group has partnered with expert partner Cancer Research UK for the curation of the new exhibition at what is a key moment in time when one in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime, but more of us than ever before are living longer and better with the disease.

Cancer Revolution: Science, innovation, and hope is the first “major object-rich exhibition” to reveal the past, present and future of how cancer is prevented, detected and treated.  

Through never-before seen objects and stories, cutting edge treatment and research, reflection, new artist commissions and installations, film, photography, interactive exhibits and a breadth of personal stories, the museum says the exhibition will present the stories of people affected by cancer and those who study and treat it.

You can find more information about the new exhibition here.

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Christmas at Great Northern

Manchester City Centre

Monday 20 December – onwards

From arcade games and bowling, to massive burgers, open mic nights, and all the best baked goods your could ask for, Great Northern Warehouse has absolutely everything you need for a unique day – and night – out in the heart of Manchester city centre.

And during the festive season, it’s certainly no different.

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The dining and leisure destination is taking the stress out of planning Christmas activities this year by offering a wide range of delicious food offers and things to do.

You can find out more here.

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Silcock’s Winter Wonderland

EventCity

Monday 20 December – onwards

Silcock’s Winter Wonderland and its indoor Christmas theme park has returned to Greater Manchester.

The massive festive event has taken over EventCity for the first time in four years, transforming the 22,000 sq metre exhibition space into a magical wonderland with more than 50 rides and attractions – including rollercoasters and waltzers – all under one roof.

As well as its indoor fairground, Kingpin Events will also be putting on theatrical entertainment.

You can find out more here.

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Tinsel Town

Trafford Centre

Monday 20 December 2021 – Monday 3 January 2022

The Trafford Centre’s large-scale outdoor event invites visitors to “grab the gang for some festive fun” at ‘Tinsel Town’.

So wrap up warm and explore a winter wonderland that’s full of rides and festive fayre – including the chance to glide on down the UK’s longest tobbogan slide, take a spin on the big wheel at the festive fairground, hitch a ride on the Santa train, and shimmy and skate around a brand-new magical ice rink.

And of course, no Christmas is complete without a visit to the big man himself, so get ready to share your festive wishes with Santa in his twinkling tipi.

You can find more information here.

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Magical VR Sleigh Ride & Santa’s Postbox

Manchester Arndale

Monday 20 – Friday 24 December

Manchester Arndale’s ‘Santa’s Postbox’ has arrived.

You can help your little one write their Christmas wish list while chatting to the magic postbox in his winter wonderland snow scene, then simply pop it in the letterbox and head home to wait for a special reply from Santa himself.

Letters posted between 18-24 December will receive a reply via email.

Also arrived at the city centre shopping centre is a brand new magical sleigh ride that’s powered by Virtual Reality technology.

Find out more here.

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Christmas City

Soccer Dome Stretford

Monday 20 December – 2 January 2022

It was the sell-out success of 2020 – and now the immersive drive-in cinema experience Christmas City has returned to Manchester once again.

Christmas City has taken over a brand-new location at the Soccer Dome in Stretford right through to 2 January 2022 to bring entertainment safely to visitors in their own cars from the biggest screen in the UK.

Having returned with what is being described as a “festive extravaganza”, Christmas City – hosted by Park N Party, the team also behind popular drive-in events SecretCity and ScareCity – is set to show a huge selection of outdoor Christmas cinema classics, including Home Alone, Elf, The Polar Express, and so many more.

There’s also set to be a fully-licensed bar and festive food vendors on site throughout the whole running of the event.

You can find out more, and book tickets here.

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An Evening of Serial Killers

The Bread Shed

Thursday 23 December

Are serial killers born or made?

One thing that we know for certain is that a child’s upbringing can put them at risk of becoming a killer or as FBI Profiler Jim Clemente explains: “Your genetics load the gun, your personality aims it, and the events in your life pull the trigger.”

‘How To Raise A Serial Killer’ is an informal talk with some dark humour which incorporates case studies and interviews to illustrate how an innocent child can grow into a cold-blooded killer.

You can grab tickets here.

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Big in Japan

Great Northern

Friday 24 December – onwards

The best things to do in Greater Manchester this week | 20 – 26 December 2021, The Manc
Credit: Big in Japan

A brand-new “insane and super wacky” live event that’s inspired by popular Japanese game shows has arrived in Manchester.

It’s fair to say that Ginger Vanderpump – known by many as ‘the Duchess of daytime TV’ – and her co-star Mr Leonard Lilypops are giving Manchester an experience like no other, where those who are up to the challenge can expect “mind-blowing entertainment” from a crazy cast of misfits.

There’s some wild games, banging tunes, live DJ’s, Drag Queens, everyone’s favourite drinks, and chaos like you’ve never seen before.

This is Big in Japan.

You can find more information and grab tickets here.

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Featured Image – Manchester City Council

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