The summer season may be drawing to a close, but there’s still plenty happening in the region this week.
So we’ve put together a fresh edition of our ‘what’s on’ guide for the city of Manchester and beyond this week, and we’ve cherry-picked 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 – with plenty still taking COVID-safety measures to give you peace of mind.
Here are our top picks.
Beat the Frog
Frog and Bucket Comedy Club
Monday 30 August
Fancy a good laugh this Bank Holiday Monday? Beat the Frog is the legendary amateur comedy night at Manchester’s iconic Frog and Bucket Comedy Club, and has helped to launch the careers of some of comedy’s biggest names – including Peter Kay, John Bishop, Johnny Vegas, Smug Roberts, and more.
At the start of the competition, three cards are handed out to lucky members of the audience, and up to 10 acts will then take to the stage and each try to do five minutes of material. If within those five minutes all three cards go up, then the act has lost and must leave the stage – but if the three cards stay down, that act has successfully ‘Beat The Frog’.
They are then invited back to the stage for a clap off at the end of the night – which will determine the overall winner.
It’s been named the “most unpredictable comedy night in the north”.
You can find more information, and grab your tickets via the Frog and Bucket website here.
Bolton Food & Drink Festival
Bolton Town Centre
Monday 30 August
The hugely-popular Bolton Food & Drink Festival has finally returned this Bank Holiday weekend after a year of postponement, with plenty of action still happening this Monday.
After COVID-19 restrictions sadly meant that the annual festival had to move online in 2020, the support of local businesses of all shapes and sizes is helping the North West’s biggest food and drink event to return in person for its 16th year this summer.
They’re serving up some of the best food and drink the region has to offer.
World-renowned chefs have been sharing their secrets during free cookery demonstrations, and a collection of outdoor bars, live music and street entertainment are creating the usual festival atmosphere that draws visitors from far and wide.
Creative painting workshop company Paint Away is giving budding artists the chance to paint the man himself, Notorious B.I.G, at Wanago in West Didsbury this Bank Holiday Monday.
Pan Asian street food will also be served alongside DJ JC playing the “baddest’ old school 90s R&B tunes”.
According to the event description on the Paint Away website, this paint party provides a relaxed environment where you can eat, drink, and chat while letting your inner artist unfurl as you learn to paint alongside a professional artist and finish with an artwork you will love.
No experience is necessary – you just need to be up for trying something new.
You can find more information, and book your slot here.
Monday 30 August – Sunday 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 – and this is your last week to make the most of it.
‘Summer Social’ is a vast 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 have also been 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 have also been taking to the stage.
You can find more information, and grab tickets here.
Burrs Country Park
Monday 30 August – Sunday 5 September
A brand-new festival has taken over Burrs Country Park in Bury for two weeks of live music, community events, and artisan food starting this August Bank Holiday weekend.
Burrs Live by The Met will feature a packed programme of live performers including Beatles tribute The Bootleg Beatles, folk supergroup Show of Hands, and one of the biggest success stories in British theatre history, The Magic of Motown. The park will also play host to Head For The Hills festival – starring multi-instrumentalist Badly Drawn Boy, electronic afro-funk band Ibibio Sound Machine, and psychedelic trail-blazers, Heavy Salad.
Brightside Brewery will be providing the drinks throughout, with a selection of local food vendors also on site.
You can find more information, and grab tickets from £11here.
Rochdale Food and Drink Festival
Rochdale Town Centre
Monday 30 August – Sunday 5 September
Rochdale is currently playing host to its town centre’s first ever food and drink festival this week.
Organised by the Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID), more than 20 local restaurants are offering up special deals, with the community event featuring mouthwatering food and drink from the likes of The Flying Horse Hotel, The Baum, La Mancha, Petit Bistro, Treehouse Bar, Crust, Heavenly Desserts, and so many more.
You can find more information about the vendors at the festival here.
Monday 30 August – onwards
The “world’s first immersive cricket experience with hospitality” has now arrived at Corn Exchange with the opening of Sixes Manchester.
A social cricket sports bar kitted out with three state-of-the-art cricket nets available to hire for 30, 60 or 90 minutes, as well as a champagne bar, a 70-seater dining space and an open kitchen, Sixes offers the chance to swing for the boundaries whilst enjoying a wide selection of high-quality food and drink.
The opening of this new Manchester venue coincides with an exclusive game at Sixes called ‘The Hundred’ – which is named after the 100-ball cricket tournament taking place for the first time this summer.
You can find more information about Sixes Manchester here.
National Football Museum
Wednesday 1 September – 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 1 September – 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.
A spectacular new art installation honouring the NHS and key workers is arriving in Manchester city centre this Friday.
‘Gratitude’ is a collection of 51 uniquely-painted human form sculptures that are all designed by individual artists, and curated in partnership with creative ambassador Dame Zandra Rhodes.
The free-to-visit installation – which will be accompanied by a selection of stories recorded by a host of well-known local voices (including Christopher Eccleston, John Thompson, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Shobna Gulati) – will be on display at St Peter’s Square, and enclosed by mirrors on two sides to create reflections.
Manchester artists Lei-Mai LeMaow, Guy McKinley, Fernandes Makes, and Jodie Silverman are among the acclaimed UK artists taking part.
Beloved brewery ShinDigger is hosting one of its bouncing Session parties at Manchester’s newest canalside neighbourhood KAMPUS this weekend.
Promising “good booze, food and leg shaking at sundown”, the party is being held to celebrate the grand reopening of Little David Street near Kampus – which has been closed to the public for more than 20 years.
A ShinDigger bar will be on site for the evening, with temporary KAMPUS residents Le Social serving natural wine and premium cocktails, and there’ll also be some scran up for grabs from Birria Brothers tacos and flavours from the grill courtesy of TINE.
Featured Image – David Oates Photography | Bolton Council
The best things to do in Greater Manchester this week | 5 – 11 December 2022
We’re into our second week of December now, and we just can’t get over how festive everything feels across Greater Manchester.
With Christmas cheer having now been firmly spread right across the region, and the big day itself just a matter of weeks away, everyone is getting suitably in the festive spirit and the events calendar is, once again, absolutely jam-packed with plenty to be getting up to, so we’ve cherry-picked a few of the best bits for another edition of our ‘what’s on‘ guide.
As always, some of the events we’re going to mention are completely free, while others will set you back a few pounds, and many will need to be booked in advance.
Here’s our top picks.
Manchester Christmas Markets 2022
Manchester City Centre
Monday 5 – Thursday 22 December
Manchester Christmas Markets 2022 are in full swing.
The iconic annual event – which draws in visitors from all across the globe each year, and has been voted the best Christmas markets in the UK for 2022 – are here once again to spread some cheer right across the city centre.
Open every day until Thursday 22 December, the the main market hubs in will be in Exchange Square, St Ann’s Square, King Street, and Market Street.
Other zones, however, are set to open after Christmas Day and run into the New Year.
You can find out everything you need to know here.
Monday 5 December – onwards
Lightopia has made a return to Heaton Park this year.
Once again lighting up Manchester and captivating audiences for the fourth year in a row, award-winning illuminations event Lightopia is promising to bring the magic of Christmas back to the grounds of Heaton Park from this Thursday – with a brand-new immersive experience set to take over the park until January.
Through brand-new and unseen audiovisual displays, this year’s festival is a “once-in-a-lifetime adventure” for the all the family to enjoy.
Find out more about Lightopia 2022 and grab tickets here.
Monday 5 December – onwards
Did you see that Manchester’s newest cinema on the roof of Depot Mayfield has a whole host of Christmas films on the agenda over the next few weeks?
Backyard Cinema brings its immersive movie going experience to the north for the ever first time, and features way more than a cosy purpose-built cinema room, as it comes complete with an Enchanted Forest, two bars, street food trucks, and a live music stage to boot.
The highly-anticipated and long-awaited exhibit is currently showcasing 145 iconic Banksy pieces all amassed from private collections across the globe to create the world’s largest touring collection of Banksy artworks.
Visitors will have the chance to experience the infamous artist’s most well-known works alongside those rarely seen by the public, all on loan from private collectors.
Proper festive fun for all the family, the Christmas with Paddington grotto experience – which is curated by award-winning experiential events company Bakehouse Factory – includes fun photo opportunities for all ages, the chance to travel through snowy festive trees and scenic street scenes, and so much more.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 is well underway, and Mancs are right to be wondering where to watch the World Cup in Manchester.
International tournaments are always a special occasion we eagerly await to come around and while we’re sure you could walk into any old pub and enjoy yourself, there are some seriously good venues showing Qatar 2022 this winter – so, with that in mind, we thought we’d put together a list of the best places to watch in our city.
Read our round-up list here, and browse for Love Factory tickets here.
Skate Manchester 2022
Monday 5 December- onwards
What’s a festive season in the city without Skate Manchester?
Back once again for 2022 with twinkling lights, the smell of gingerbread, and Christmas songs playing on repeat, Skate Manchester’s stunning outdoor ice rink is in the heart of the city at Cathedral Gardens until 2 January 2023.
With covered rink having a roof to allow everyone to enjoy the ice, whatever the weather, this year, there’s also a brand-new ice path allowing you to skate around the beautiful Christmas tree centre.
Escape to Freight Island has brought its highly-popular Winter Island back to Manchester, just in time to get you in the mood for the festive season.
Having landed at Depot Mayfield‘s premier event space and cargo park, this year’s Winter Island is promising visitors everything from DJs, live entertainment, and Massaoke, to Christmas workshops, pop-up markets, and all the festive food you could hope for.
Food and drink to be scoffed from some of the best local and independent traders.
From Manchester favourites like Northern Soul grilled cheese and the award-winning Great North Pie Co. to Ancoats chocolatiers Cocoa Cabana, who will be letting you create your own boozy hot chocolate (the best kind), there’s so much to tickle your festive fancies.
Popular après-ski village Bar Hütte is officially back in the city centre.
After what was an undeniably successful run in 2021 and the plenty of years prior, Bar Hütte is better than ever this year, with 15 cosy Alpine cabins dotted across the Great Northern square courtyard to bring a lively, festive, and vibrant atmosphere.
Inspired by some of the coolest après ski bars in Europe, there’s everything from live music and free-flowing festive drinks, to the chance to try out the bar’s legendary ‘shot skis’, as well sing-along to all of your favourite tunes inside a private wooden karaoke cabin that’s festooned with twinkling tights.
Cheshire Oaks’ beloved grotto looks a little different to usual as Santa and his trusty elves are taking to the skies and inviting you on a fantastical festive adventure on the outlet’s all-new Big Wheel.
The Santa in the Sky experience is the perfect way to celebrate Christmas as a family this winter, and make memories to last a lifetime.
Open every weekend throughout December, with 10-minutes flights taking place from 10am-1pm, included in the ticket price is four spaces on the Big Wheel flight with Santa and his elves, and you’ll also get to sip on a mulled wine or hot chocolate and enjoy a festive cookie, as well as get a little gift to take home with you from Santa.
The Manchester Christmas Markets have listened to feedback and gone a bit more local overall, so you’d expect everyone would be pleased – but of course they’re not.
One scathing and lengthy review on Tripadvisor said: “Went on a day trip by coach to the Christmas Market, having been four years ago and LOVED it…sorry, but the difference between that experience and this year’s is like night and day.
“First of all, whose daft idea was it to have the market scattered across nine different locations? People who aren’t familiar with Manchester won’t know where all these locations are!
“The first part of the market I came across was a collection of food stalls, the bulk of them not displaying prices – is that legal? – and the entire set-up looked like a building site. No festive atmosphere at all, and sadly this continued the further I walked.
“Gone was the wonderful variety of Christmas ornaments and gifts, replaced by food and drink stalls and, strangely, a stall selling wooden garden furniture. There is nothing remotely Christmassy about an overpriced Kingdom of Sweets stall, and when I came across a second one several minutes later I gave up and killed time in a Wetherspoons until my coach left to take everyone home.
“I wasn’t the only person let down by the experience, either; when an elderly lady boarded the coach on its way home, she was heard to mutter, “Well, I’d have been ready to go home three hours ago.” I’m writing this trip off as a learning experience – and what I learned is that I won’t be going to this market again next year.”
A parent who visited said: “Where to start. This was my families first and last visit to Manchester, The Christmas Market felt very poorly planned with stalls not in one area. People kept knocking into my children manners seem to be missing in Manchester as a whole.”
Someone else wrote in a one-star review: “Ridiculous prices, paid £6 for a hot dog for my son & was then charges £1 extra for tomato sauce, sorry but that is taking the mick.. usual stores have gone and replaced with food, drink or overpriced large goods. The Christmas feeling just wasn’t there this year :(.”
Another person said: “I visited the Christmas Market at the weekend with a friend and it felt more like a food festival than a Market. No price lists displayed. Utter waste of time. Cheaper to go the ones abroad.”
One reviewer said: “Nothing at all Christmassy, pre-covid they was lovely stalls seeming Christmas ornaments ets, now it’s all good and drink mostly £15 for 2 mugs of hot chocolate, cocktails £9 for a snowball just pure greed, very disappointed, definitely won’t be back this year or in near future.”
Someone else wrote: “All about overpriced food and repetitive stalls. Nothing European about it and not what it once was. £10 for a sausage save your money and try a market in actual Europe.”