It’s both half term and Halloween this week, so you know we’re in for a week filled with all sorts of frightening fun.
With the spooky season officially here, and schools now officially out for October half term, it obviously comes as no shock that the events calendar is absolutely jam-packed with all sorts of different things to be getting up to right across Greater Manchester this week.
There’s so many free family-friendly Halloween events happening in particular.
But if you’re finding it a bit tricky to choose, then we’ve cherry-picked a few of the best bits for another edition of our ‘what’s on‘ – only this time, with a terrifying Halloween twist.
Here’s our top picks.
Manchester City Centre
Monday 23 October – onwards
There couldn’t be a more ideal time to catch a glimpse of the pumpkins.
If you’re looking to get in the mood for Halloween, but want to keep things a little on the cheaper side this week, then you need look no further than up above in the city centre as the annual decorative pumpkin lanterns are back once again.
Going on a little tour to see the lanterns in the trees in St Ann’s Square, Market Street, and beyond is the perfect activity for all the family, easy to plan, and great for pictures – and it’s FREE too.
Luna’s Legendary Creature Halloween Trail gives visitors the chance to get up close to five of Chester Zoo’s most magical species.
Having now kicked-off, and running right up until Halloween itself, the rhinoceros hornbill, Sulawesi-crested macaque, and huge Sunda gharial crocodile are just some of the species you’ll get to learn all about as you make your way around the 90-minute interactive trail.
You’ll be tasked with helping Luna the witch discover a legendary creature living deep inside the zoo’s Monsoon Forest habitat.
Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum has a jam-packed lineup of free events happening throughout October half term, and is inviting families down to “transform into architects, engineers, and inventors” for a day.
As well as all its currently ongoing exhibitions, the museum is also handing over its galleries and spaces to community groups and neighbours from right across the region for the week.
The groups’ll be using their “unique outlooks” to help people explore all the ways the city is evolving.
Did you know you can get a pass to visit loads of National Trust sites across the UK for FREE this autumn?
Autumn in Greater Manchester is a wonderful thing, and and our region is filled with places to appreciate the beauty of this much-loved season – but if you were looking for a reason to travel a little further afield to experience everything nature has to offer and see the leaves change colour, then it doesn’t get much better than this.
This is why the National Trust wants to give people the chance to “experience the awe of the season” at no extra cost.
The pass allows free entry for two adults and up to three children, one adult and up to four children, or just two adults on their own.
Find out more about how to claim the limited-time offer here.
Halloween Lakeside Light Trail
Partridge Lakeside Fishery
Monday 23 – Tuesday 31 October
A magical new Halloween lakeside light trail has transformed Partridge Lakes Fishery in Warrington into “an enchanting Halloween attraction”.
Organisers say the hour-long immersive experience is like “stepping into a living Halloween storybook”.
You’ll be able to see the “mesmerising world of Halloween wonder” come to life as you stroll along a winding path around the lake’s edge that leads that takes you on a magical journey through woodland decorated by eerie and captivating lights.
Spookfest is back once again for 2023, and is promising more frightful fun than ever before.
Having returned to the Trafford Centre for yet another spooky season, visitors heading down to the massive shopping centre can expect a scary circus, a frightening fairground full of retro rides, and a seriously-impressive five-metre tall tower of pumpkins.
You can also get into the spooky spirit with free face painting, the chance to meet and greet a whole host of Halloween characters, and so much more.
The Oast House’s legendary Christmas has returned to Spinningfields for the festive season.
Set to be a popular spot for locals and those who’ve finished a hard day at work during the colder months, The Teepee officially reopened last week and is made up of three tents joined together with a huge open hub, complete with two roaring fires, twinkling fairy lights, faux fur throws.
The Teepee is famed for its free live music, home-cooked food, and laidback warm and welcoming atmosphere.
There’s a mouthwatering street food menu, a selection of limited-edition winter cocktails, mulled wine, and festive hot chocolates, and, of course, a stage area set up for guests to dance the night away – with a packed lineup of live gigs all planned over the next few months.
The MCR Monsters are back once again, and you’ve only got a few days to get yourselves out there to find them all.
Part of the annual wider ‘Halloween in the City’ events lineup, just as they have been doing for the past few years now, giant inflatable monsters will be looming and creeping over buildings across the city centre this week to transform some of our most well-known landmarks with tentacles and googly eyes and pointy teeth for a FREE trail.
And this year, it’s bigger than ever before, with 16 monsters to spot around town.
GRUB’s Hallowe’en Week lineup is filled with all sorts of frightful fun for everyone this year.
While the Bottomless Rocky Horror Show is definitely one of the stand-out events, there’s also everything from pumpkin carving competitions and SFX makeup masterclasses, to Halloween life drawing sessions, Spooky Sip and Paint, a Weird History Walking Tour, a Freaky Family Fun Day, and so much more on the lineup.
You’ll also get to tuck into a wide range of street food and Halloween-themed drinks specials from local independent traders to tuck into.
Find out more about everything happening over the five-day event here.
Halloween Ghost Trains
East Lancashire Railway
Thursday 26, Friday 27 & Saturday 28 October
East Lancashire Railway’s popular Halloween Ghost Trains are back this week.
Always proving to be top of the Halloween bucket list for people looking for “loads of spooktacular fun” once the scariest time of year rolls around, those brave enough at lending the ‘Monster Squad’ a helping hand at banishing ghosts and ghouls will be whisked away on a haunted steam engine through the atmospheric Greater Manchester countryside.
You’ll get to meet lots of “oddballs and curios” along the way, including Count Brian the vampire, Veronica the witch, Zombie Bob, and the mad Dr Frankenburger as you board the rain ride of a lifetime.
King Street Townhouse‘s very-own exclusive cinema will be screening a marathon of seven scary films over four days to celebrate Halloween in style this weekend.
The extended weekend of jump scares and family-friendly favourites will kick off with the absolute cult-classic that is Hocus Pocus, all before you can sit down to watch other blockbusters like Nightmare on Elm Street, The Addams Family, The Shining, and Practical Magic.
Printworks’ popular Lip Sync Showdown is back this week for a special Halloween-themed edition.
Taking place at Cargo Manchester this Friday, guests are told to expect a “freaky soiree” where they’ll be invited to beat the stage ‘fright’ and grab a mic, as lip-syncers will be joined on stage by undead backing dancers to be in with a chance of winning some hauntingly-good prizes.
It’s set to be an unforgettable night of entertainment and lip-syncing battles to an outrageous lineup of pop classics, power ballads, and guilty pleasures – but all with “a hellish twist”.
Scare Skate is back this Halloween, and there’s some new additions this year too.
Just like it has many years before, Cathedral Gardens has become become home to Manchester’s – and one of the UK’s – largest outdoor ice rink for October half term, as Scare Skate sees Halloween fans and fear-loving families take to the ice for some “frightfully good fun”.
Skaters can expect Halloween-themed music, lighting, lots of themed props to help “ignite the fright factor”, and also a new frightfully-realistic giant spider wrapped in bright-white LED lights that stands front and centre.
There’s a singalong screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show happening down at Manchester’s home of cult cinema, video games, and “cool nerdy events”, Cultplex in GRUB.
Taking place this weekend, with not one, not two, but three screenings of the classic 70s flick across both Friday 28 and Saturday 29 October, this is your chance to dress the part, sing the night away in style, and be “chilled, thrilled, and fulfilled”.
Oh, and did we forget to mention there’ll be bottomless drinks too? Now we’re talking.
Are you Team Trick or Team Treat? As part of the annual Halloween in the City celebrations, families are invited to head down to New Cathedral Street this weekend to pick up a wristband, choose a side, and take part in a host of ghoulish games to win points for your team.
There’ll be spot prizes on offer throughout the weekend, and if you go in fancy dress, you’ll get some bonus points too.
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.