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You can now swim at historic Victoria Baths – for one weekend only

Not possible since 2019, The Big Splash features a packed programme of events that revolves around swimming in the Gala pool

Victoria Baths’ weekend swim has become a much-loved event, with the pool standing empty of water (but not activity) for the other 362 days of the year.

One of Britain’s most iconic historic swimming pool complexes, Victoria Baths is now a community space for cinema and theatre productions, beer festivals, makers markets and much more, but swimming will always hold a special place in its heart.

Now, The Big Splash is back for 2022 and making waves like never seen before, with a whole weekend of fun planned for water babes. 

Photo: Steve Allen

Hotly anticipated, and not possible since 2019, The Big Splash features a packed programme of events that revolves around swimming in the Gala pool.

On Friday 9th September you can enjoy a swim followed by a delicious plant-based three-course supper served in the former Males 2nd Class Pool by Manchester-based foodie favourites The Sri Lankan Experience.

Tickets are priced at £45, with the first swim session at 6pm and a second at 7pm, and both can be booked here.

The early bird catches the swim on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September with lane swimming only from 8am to 9am for those that want to get the lengths in and combine this with the rare joy of swimming in a Grade II listed pool.

After building up an appetite, the hot drinks and pastries being served in the Tea Room will be a welcome treat.

Tickets for the swim are £16 and bookable here.

Photo: Steve Allen

The rest of the weekend, it is time for the fun to commence.

The floats will be out (anyone remember the pink flamingos?) and dressing up for those daring enough is encouraged – there is nothing quite like seeing Edwardian swimming outfits making an appearance, with vintage inspired swimming caps expected to be all the rage.

Sessions will be available to book from 9.30am to 4.15pm, with tickets priced at £16 and bookable here.

It’s thanks to the support of United Utilities, who will be filling the pool with water, and an amazing team of volunteers that this year’s event is taking place.

Photo: Steve Allen

Filling Victoria Baths’ Gala Pool with water, and heating the water, takes four days/96 hours, with the tap turned on Monday morning ready for Friday’s evening swim.

It takes 407 cubic metres of water to fill the pool – or put another way that’s the equivalent to 1,500 baths.

Surrounding the Gala Pool are 45 individual changing cubicles – once you’ve got your cossie on you are straight in the water.

This is Victoria Baths’ biggest fundraiser event of the year, with all money raised from swim tickets going towards ensuring the building stays open as a cultural venue and community resource.

Whilst it is the swimming that’s making the splash there is also lots more happening reflecting the fact that the weekend takes place during the national Heritage Open Days festival.

Poto: Steve Allen

On Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm there are guided building tours, the history/restoration exhibition will be open, the viewing gallery over the Gala Pool will be open, choir performances will be dotted throughout the weekend, the volunteer-run Tea Room will be open and Hip Hop Chip Shop will be on site serving up hearty helpings of its amazing fish and chips (including vegan/veggie options) from their food truck.

In keeping with Heritage Open Days’ theme of Astounding Inventions there will also be a talk each day called The Astounding Aerotone, which will blow some myths about this mysterious device.

Fun for families includes a free Kids’ Art Trail throughout the building, a play area for little ones in the Tea Room and a Make, Do and Disco event run by Our Kids Social on Sunday 11th September (tickets available here).

Non-swimmers are welcome to enjoy all of the activities, with entry to the building throughout the weekend free of charge.

Guided Building Tours cost £8 (plus booking fee) and can be booked here.

Tickets for The Big Splash at Victoria Baths (Friday 9th, Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September) go on sale Tuesday 5th July at 11am.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

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