The February half-term holiday is upon us, and parents will be looking for inspiration for things to do with the kids over the coming week off school.
If you’re hoping not to break the bank before the little ‘uns return to class, then look no further than our guide to some of the best things to do for free across Manchester.
From singing mermaids to rocket-making classes, there should be a bit of inspiration for everybody here.
The Police Museum
Usually only open on Tuesdays, this Northern Quarter gem will also open on the Thursday during half-term to allow as many children as possible to get a chance to see inside the Greater Manchester Police Museum and archives.
As well as historic police equipment, children will get to learn about the modern day police service inside.
Tuesday 19th February and Thursday 21st February from 10.30am to 3pm
Rocket racers at Science and Industry Museum
This sounds amazing for all those train-loving youngsters – the chance to make your own version of Stephenson’s Rocket and see how it fares on special tracks at the Science and Industry Museum on Liverpool Road.
Recommended for children aged 7 and over, the activity is free, but booking at the front desk is advised as it’s set to be popular for the morning sessions.
In the afternoons, children aged 5 and over will be able to get involved by making their own bridges at the museum – and then see if they support the trains.
There will also be a Victorian fairground outside the museum, with rides for £2 a go during the half-term holiday.
From Saturday February 16th to Sunday February 24th
Little Mermaid fans will love this one. For singing mermaids will be serenading shoppers by emerging from fountains at the intu Trafford Centre.
The magical mermaids provide parents with the perfect opportunity to entertain and excite music-loving children during the February half-term holiday.
During the performances, you can sing along to your heart’s content to children’s favourite tunes including Somewhere Beyond the Sea and even Baby Shark.
Tuesday 19th and Thursday 21st February at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm at the Circle fountain outside Debenhams on Lower Regent Crescent.
Manchester entertainment complex The Printworks has plenty of fun for the whole family with a range of offers and events to keep the kids entertained this February half-term.
Free activities, including giant-sized board games of jenga or snakes and ladders, will be running every day inside The Printworks at the Pump Yard between 12noon and 4pm from Monday to Friday.
And, naturally, if you fancy spending some pennies afterwards, the complex features 15 restaurants as well as paid-for activities including Treetop Adventure Golf, VUE cinema and Escape Reality escape rooms.
Art workshops at Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester’s magnificent art gallery is free all year round, but during school holidays there are special artist-led workshops for children too, in the Clore Art Studio where families are encouraged to be creative together.
Drawing packs are also available from main reception.
Sessions run on Wednesday 20th, Thursday 21st, Friday 22nd, Saturday 23rd February – you can drop in anytime betweeen 1-3pm, no need to book
Half-term is a great time to pay a visit to historic Ordsall Hall, with a range of family activities taking place. There will be Tudor Playtime on Tuesday 19th February between 10am to 12noon which is free for children to take part in.
The Hall also has a range of inexpensive activities through the week, including the Birdhouses and Bug Homes workshop from Monday to Wednesday February 20th (between 10am and 12noon and 1pm and 3pm for £4).
OK, so this is not free for the whole family, but kids do indeed go free this half-term at Dinofalls golf course at the intu Trafford Centre if accompanied by a paying adult – if you’re prepared for an early start.
The offer applies to entries before 10.30am each day over the half-term week days only. And if previous school holiday offers are anything to go by, it does get busy at the dinosaur-themed golf course.
From Monday February 18th to Friday February 22nd only – entry before 10.30am offer is for one child free with one paying adult. Opens from 7am each day.
Get weaving at The Whitworth
Manchester art gallery The Whitworth has a host of activities for families this half term – including two different weaving workshops, inspired by its woodland setting.
There will be a weaving studio in the Reggio Emilia-inspired play space, and a special area for weaving babies where non-walking children can explore texture, discover pattern and even get to sit in a mountain of wool in this sensory play area.
From Saturday 16th to Sunday 24th February, from 11am-3pm
Makers Market at The Lowry
The popular Lowry Outlet Makers Market will return during half-term with artisanal food, drink and crafts on Saturday 23rd February and Sunday 24th February.
The event will once again feature specially selected vendors who source, grow, rear, bake, make, and create the products they sell and offers plenty of fascinating things to see for little ones as well as the grown-ups.
Craft table at People’s History Museum
Families are encouraged to get arty during the half term with the daily craft tables inside the People’s History Museum on the Left Bank, Spinningfields.
Described as being “inspired by ideas worth fighting for”, children are encouraged to explore the themes of the exhibition by drawing, scribbling and silliness at the craft table.
This is a free event, although donations are encouraged on a “pay as you feel” basis.
From Saturday February 16th to Sunday February 24th, 10am to 5pm