What's On

The best things to do in Greater Manchester this week | 6 – 12 December 2021

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 2nd December 2021

We’re really getting into the festive spirit now.

Now that we’re in the second week of December, and Christmas is right around the corner, the city is suitably getting into the festive spirit, so there’s 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.



Floating Earth

Salford Quays

Monday 6 – Sunday 12 December

The ‘Floating Earth’ art installation that’s been drawing visitors to a local nature reserve in their thousands this past week has now popped up at Salford Quays.


The captivating sculpture is the work of internationally-acclaimed artist Luke Jerram.

Measuring a whopping 10-metres in diameter and featuring high-tech NASA imagery, as well as a surround-sound musical track by BAFTA award-winning composer Dan Jones, the ‘Floating Earth’ will be lighting up the water of the The Manchester Ship Canal until Sunday 12 December as part of the 10-day annual Lightwaves festival programme.

Festival organisers say that Floating Earth’s appearance Lightwaves 2021 encourages us to “question our relationship with our planet”.

You can find out more here.



Christmas Lights Sculpture Trail

Manchester City Centre

Monday 6 December – 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 6 December – 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.



Manchester Christmas Markets

Manchester City Centre

Monday 6 – 22 December

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.


Van Gogh Alive


Monday 6 December – 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.




Heaton Park

Monday 6 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.


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.


Tinsel Town

Trafford Centre

Monday 6 December – 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 6 December – 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.


The Dinner Party Series with Mary-Ellen McTague


Monday 6 – Wednesday 15 December

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.


Magical VR Sleigh Ride & Santa’s Postbox

Manchester Arndale

Monday 6 – 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 up until 17 December will receive a reply via post, and 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.


Silcock’s Winter Wonderland


Monday 6 December – onwards

Credit: Silcock’s Winter Wonderland

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.


Christmas City

Soccer Dome Stretford

Wednesday 8 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.


Christmas in Bavaria

Hotel Football

Thursday 9 & Saturday 11 September

This Christmas, Hotel Football is bringing the best of Bavaria to Old Trafford.

The Old Trafford Supporters Club will be transformed into traditional Christmas Markets, and using custom made market stalls, fully-stocked with delicious sweet and savoury treats and specially selected drinks, Hotel Football is inviting everyone to come down and enjoy the festivities. 

You can expect good-quality, classic German delicacies – such as bratwursts, kartoffelpuffer, flammkuchen, and strudel, as well as traditional drinks such as gluhwein, a Hotel Football Alpine special cocktail and of course, plenty of beer.

A resident DJ will also be playing the finest of tunes to get everyone in the mood for the Christmas festivities ahead. 

You can find out more and grab tickets here.


Big in Japan

Great Northern

Friday 10 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.


GRUB Christmas Food Fair

Cheetham Hill

Friday 10 & Saturday 11 December

Credit: GRUB

It’s well and truly looking like Christmas at GRUB now.

At Manchester’s largest street food fair – which is currently based at the Red Bank Project just outside of the city centre in Cheetham Hill – there’ll be booze, food and music to make you feel festive and the campfires will be on every Friday and Saturday evening too.

Street food comes courtesy of Cubanitos, Marley’s Pizza, Jan’s Dosakal, and The Flat Baker.

You can find more information here.


Featured Image – Flickr (Andrew Stawarz) | Instagram (@the.manc via @photographicleigh)