What's On

The best things to do in Greater Manchester this week | 29 November – 5 December 2021

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 26th November 2021

It’s time to wave goodbye to November, because is December has finally arrived.

Whether you’ve been a bit of a “bah humbug”, or you’ve been embracing Christmas early doors, the festive season is officially just around the corner now, so there’s still absolutely no shortage of things to be getting up to in our region this week.

We’ve put together a fresh edition of our ‘what’s on’ guide for the city of Manchester and beyond to cherry-pick a few of 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.

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


Here’s our top picks.



Van Gogh Alive


Monday 29 November – 23 January 2022

Van Gogh Alive has officially opened 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.



Manchester Christmas Markets

Manchester City Centre

Monday 29 November – Wednesday 22 December

Credit: Flickr

Manchester Christmas Markets 2021 have officially opened.

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 – last month, 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.


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.


Christmas Lights Sculpture Trail

Manchester City Centre

Monday 29 November – onwards


After captivating visitors in years gone by, 10 twinkly Christmas light sculptures have been brought to life across 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.

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

You can find out more here.



Cancer Revolution: Science, innovation, and hope

Science and Industry Museum

Monday 29 November – onwards

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.


Tinsel Town

Trafford Centre

Monday 29 November – 3 January 2022

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screenshot-2021-11-05-at-16.04.18.png
Credit: Trafford Centre

Now that temperatures are dropping and the festive season is right around the corner, the Trafford Centre’s next 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.



Christmas at Cheshire Oaks

Cheshire Oaks

Monday 29 November – onwards

If you’re looking to get a head-start on your Christmas shopping with the festive season just around the corner, 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 over these next few weeks and throughout December.


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



Heaton Park

Monday 29 November – 3 January 2022

Credit: Lightopia

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.

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.


The Dinner Party Series with Mary-Ellen McTague

Selfridges, Exchange Square


November 30 – December 15

Mary-Ellen McTague. Credit: Rebecca Lupton

Luxury department store Selfridges is turning part of its building into a Christmas wonderland, where it will host a series of very special dinner parties.

With local chef Mary-Ellen McTague at the helm, the events will be raising money for Eat Well MCR and its Christmas wish to deliver 1000 roast dinners to refuges, homeless families and schools.

Each ticket will include a seven-course dinner with cocktails and champagne, delivered in a setting packed with nostalgic glamour, fun and surprises.

Tickets are priced at £95 per person with soft drinks paring or £120 with cocktail pairing, and you can book your place here.



Santa’s Postbox

Manchester Arndale

Monday 29 November – 24 December

Credit: Manchester Arndale

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

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 up until 17 December will receive a reply via post, and letters posted between 18-24 December will receive a reply via email.

Find out more here.



The Edge Theatre

Tuesday 30 November – Saturday 18 December

Credit: The Edge Theatre

“Thrills, abduction, pills, attraction, laughs, prescriptions… and it’s all sung.”

Imagine waking up, but you’re not in your bed. Imagine waking up, realising you’ve been drugged and you’re tied to a stranger… a stranger you can’t see. Neither of you knows how you got there and neither of you knows how to escape.

Tom and Kate can’t remember a thing… not about the last few days anyway. Everything is a total blank, except for a halloumi kebab and a double-decker bus. As piece by piece they unravel their memories, each step brings them closer to knowing their captors, closer to their terrifying fate… and closer to each other. 

Find out more, and grab tickets here.


Christmas City

Soccer Dome Stretford

Wednesday 1 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 from 26 November 2021 – 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.


A Night of Carols

Open Kitchen MCR

Thursday 2 December

Credit: Open Kitchen MCR

Open Kitchen Cafe & Bar – which has recently opened at the People’s History Musuem – is partnering with Hallé’s Ancoats Community Choir for a night of festivities to kick start the Christmas season.

The Hallé runs a Community Choir in the heart of Ancoats that is open to all levels of experience and will be at the food waste cafe for the evening singing classic carols to get you feeling merry, while you sip on homemade mulled wine, mince pies, and a selection of winter treats to start December off the right way.

You can find out more, and grab tickets here.


MYP Christmas Social

Blues Kitchen

Thursday 2 December

Manchester Young Professionals is hosting its first Christmas social event in two years at at one of the most popular venues in town, Blues Kitchen, this Thursday – and it’s set to be another huge night for the networking hub as it takes over the venues entire Concert Hall upstairs.

There’ll be entertainment and live acoustic from from 6-7:30pm to kick-off the evening, before the party gets started from 7:30pm with a DJ all night until late.

Tickets are £30, and you can grab yours here.


Big in Japan

Great Northern

Friday 3 December – onwards

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.


Silcock’s Winter Wonderland


Saturday 4 December

Credit: Silcock’s Winter Wonderland

Silcock’s Winter Wonderland and its indoor Christmas theme park is returning to Greater Manchester this week.

The massive festive event will be taking 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.


Luxury Christmas Shopping Event

The Royal Exchange Manchester

Saturday 4 December

Credit: The Royal Exchange Manchester

The Royal Exchange Manchester will be getting into the festive spirit with its Luxury Christmas Shopping Event this Saturday, which means that between 1pm – 4pm, festive city centre shoppers will be in for a special treat as they browse the stores – many of which have special offers on – looking for those special Christmas gifts or that perfect outfit.

From 1pm, the amazing Victorian Carol Singers will be wandering around the building performing traditional Christmas carols, all while the Northern String Quartet play festive tunes in the Christmas tree-lined Arcade.

There’ll also be free Christmas cupcakes in the Arcade too, all while stocks last.

Find out more here.