Halloween and Bonfire Night have been and gone… so you know what that means? There’s absolutely no denying the festive season is here now.
Manchester Christmas Markets officially open for 2023 this Friday, so that says it all.
Christmas markets aside, there’s also so much else happening this week that it’s hard to keep track of, and of course that’s only going to continue in the run-up to the big day itself – but if you’re finding it a bit tricky to choose what to do, then luckily, we’ve chosen a few of the best bits for another edition of our ‘what’s on‘ guide.
Here’s our top picks.
The Oast House
Monday 6 November – onwards
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.
What’s a festive season in the city without Skate Manchester?
Back once again for 2023 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 right up until the new year.
With the covered rink’s convenient roof allowing everyone to enjoy the ice, whatever the weather, visitors of all ages are invited to glide over the ice and admire the glorious Christmas tree right in the centre.
Fancy trying out some new bars, and restaurants that are opening doors in Greater Manchester this month?
It feels like we say this every month, but November genuinely might be our biggest month for new Manchester restaurants of the year so far.
There’s some huge national names like Six By Nico and Gail’s Bakery opening brand new sites, some local favourites like Seven Brothers launching new ventures, and a couple of totally new brands joining the fray.
As we do every month, we’ve rounded up the best new bars and restaurants opening in Greater Manchester this month, and there’s some really good ones to look forward to as we head into the most wonderful time of the year.
Don’t forget there’s a world-first exhibition still running down at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, and it’s giving families the chance to “dive headfirst into the digestive system” and “travel like a poo”.
The new blockbuster exhibition, Operation Ouch!, is based on and will see the award-winning CBBC children’s TV series brought to life.
Visitors can expect interactive experiences, amazing objects from the Science Museum Group’s collection, and appearances from world-renowned doctors who will be on hand to guide audiences through this “lively, interactive, and playful adventure to better understand our brilliant bodies”.
Bar Hütte’s legendary karaoke cabins are coming back this week, bringing Alpine vibes, cosy furnishings, twinkling lights, live music sessions, and flowing drinks.
And this year, there’s not one, but two locations in Manchester city centre.
While Bar Hütte at Great Northern Square is heading back to Deansgate, with 15 cosy private hüttes neatly-positioned under a heated stretch tent and twinkling lights, Bar Hütte at Kampus will also see a new outdoor terrace, comprising of eight snug, wooden karaoke hüttes nestled beneath the trees, and an ‘Aprés Ski Bungalow’ serving as an indoor alpine bar.
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.
Winter Island 2023
Escape to Freight Island
Thursday 9 November – Sunday 24 December
Winter Island is back once again for 2023.
Escape to Freight Island’s highly-popular “festive extravaganza” is opening down at Depot Mayfield this week, just in time to get you in the mood for the festive season, and is promising loads of a whole host of Christmas events and activities for everyone of all ages and interests to get involved with.
There’s everything from a Santa’s Grotto, wreath-making classes, and live entertainment, to different Christmas workshops, pop-up markets, and all the festive food and drink you could hope for on the lineup this year.
It’s that time of year once again… Manchester Christmas Markets open for 2023 this week.
The iconic annual event is an absolute staple in Manchester’s festive events calendar, and always draws in thousands of visitors from all across the globe – with more than 225 stalls across nine sites set to line the streets of our city this year.
Visitors will be able to tuck into a wide range of festive foods and drinks, and shop for Christmas gifts from countless independent traders.
Find out everything you need to know about Manchester Christmas Markets 2023 here.
Land of Lights
Saturday 11 November – onwards
Land of Lights will transform Gulliver’s World in Warrington into an immersive winter wonderland with 12 “vivid dreamworlds” full of dozens of gigantic lanterns that are inspired by animals, mega monuments, and wonders of the natural world.
As the sun goes down and the nights draw in, visitors to the North West attraction can explore an amazing array of light installations as they walk all around the park.
More than 7,000 individual lanterns and hundreds of thousands of LED lights create the spectacle.
Hamilton, one of the most successful musicals of the 21st century, is heading out on its first-ever UK tour, and it’s arriving here in Manchester this week.
After taking Broadway and the West End – and the world – by storm, the multi-award winning musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda has been captivating and engaging audiences like no other for close to a decade now, but this is the first time it’s touring the UK, and Manchester is one of only two lucky cities chosen to stage the smash-hit spectacle.
Despite absolutely unprecedented demand, there’s still a handful of tickets available for different nights over the course of the show’s 15-week run in our city, and you can get your hands of them now if you’re interested.
Manchester will fall silent this weekend as the city pays its respects to all those we’ve lost and all those affected by both historical and ongoing conflicts.
The annual Service of Remembrance will take place at the Cenotaph in St Peter’s Square this Sunday.
With proceedings set to start at 10:30am and run through until midday, veterans and military personnel will first march from John Dalton Street to the Cenotaph, where a service will be held and a two-minute silence will be observed at 11am, all before a short march then takes place to Peter Street across St Peter’s Square.
A number of road closures and parking restrictions will be in place.
Featured Image – Manchester City Council | Supplied | Bar Hutte
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.