The National Trust is giving families the chance to visit its dozens of sites across England for free of charge 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.
The heritage and land conservation organisation says autumn‘s one of the best times to “get out and about” into nature.
This is why it wants to give people the chance to “experience the awe of the season” at no extra cost.
So no matter how you like to “find your escape”, whether that be through woodland walks, watching the birds go buy, or even taking your friends and family somewhere new surrounded by nature, then the National Trust’s select number of autumn passes mean you can get yourself free entry to a place of your choice.
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.
To claim your free pass, you’ll just need to pre-book online.
When booking, you’ll need to select the free member’s ticket option and use the code ESCAPEINTOAUTUMN2023 when asked for your membership number, but it’s worth nothing that some National Trust places are exempt from this offer, so it’s advised that you check before planning your visit.
Once redeemed, the single-use pass would need to be used anytime from now until 20 October 2023.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that some of the places the National Trust manages may require advanced booking to visit, and may be busier at certain times and on certain days that others too.
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.
This and That Café are giving away hundreds of portions of FREE curry today only
One of Manchester’s most legendary Indian restaurants, This and That Café, is giving away hundreds of portions of free curry and rice for a limited time only today.
As if these lot couldn’t get any better.
The iconic Manc curry house — best known for serving up unreal food at affordable prices and renowned across the North, in general, for it’s famous ‘rice and three’ deal — is a local institution and now they’re also giving away plate after plate of their delicious dishes.
Offering more than 250 portions of rice and servings of three curries from the incredible daily selection (they always slap) for absolutely nothing, this place is going to be even busier than usual.
Pushing out plates from 4-5:30pm today (Thursday, 7 December) only, the not-so-hidden-gem is proving yet again why it’s a cult-favourite amongst so many Mancunians and tourists who travel into our city has so much to offer when it comes to Indian food and culture.
It might not be part of the world-famous Curry Mile but we can assure the line is going to be about a mile long and will probably stretch even further than that Chanel runway.
ln case you’ve been living under a rock, NQ’s Thomas Street has been transformed into an A-list catwalk for Chanel’s ‘Metiers d’Art’ fashion show and it just so happens to be right around the corner from This and That. But make no mistake, this isn’t the first time they’ve handed out free food, having served up crucial meals to the homeless on countless occasions — including during the pandemic.