It’s December! Christmas is well and truly on the way. Listen carefully and you can almost hear those sleigh bells jingling.
See the Manchester sky sparkle with glimmering Christmas lights, fill your ears with Christmas songs and fill your stomachs with gluhwein and mince pies.
As you might expect, there are plenty of festive goings on happening across the city already. Nothing gets you in the festive spirit quite like a Christmas pantomime or show, and there are loads on offer this year including a host of family favourites like Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Cinderella. Tickets are already selling fast for many of these shows, so don’t hang around if you want to be sure of getting some good seats.
And don’t worry if Christmas is just one big old bore for you because there are huge helpings of cosy winter pop-ups and events that don’t have tinsel traps.
Here’s our pick of what’s happening in Manchester this month. And have yourself a very merry Christmas.
Until December 31st
Europe’s largest light festival Lightopia is illuminating Heaton Park for the entire month with a spectacular show featuring over 47 groups of beautiful lantern installations, 2,000 individual lanterns and over a million light bulbs. Don’t miss it.
It’s on until 31st December 2019 from 5pm to 10pm (last entry 8.30pm). Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, except during school holidays, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Advance adult tickets cost £18, or £20 on the day, with advance child tickets (aged 3-16) £11. Advance family tickets cost £54. Children under three go free.
The Manchester Vintage Fashion and Textiles Fair
George Carnell Leisure Centre, Urmston
Browse beautiful, vintage and period clothing, exquisite vintage jewellery, one off collectables and some of the most stunning traditional and antique textiles all offered up for sale. Previous fairs have caught the attention of magazines such as Vogue who have called the event “highly recommended” and “not to be missed”. This is by far one of the best Vintage Fashion & Textiles Fairs in the UK and will welcome antique professionals, costume designers, craftsmen, stage and film industry buyers as well as collectors and all vintage loving souls. Admission is £10 and you can pay on the door.
A Festival of Winter and Christmas
Until December 24th
Hatch is one of the most striking additions to Manchester’s thriving cultural scene in recent years. Hunkered down under the Mancunian Way flyover, it’s home to some of the most exciting and creative independent businesses in the city. This winter the whole of Hatch has been transformed into a winter wonderland with lots going on from great indie shopping, a brilliant line-up of events, red and white mulled wine and plenty of festive treats to indulge. Enjoy Little Elf craft workshops, bring your pooch along to meet Santa Paws or just wrap up in a cosy blanket and enjoy a festive open mic night.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong
3rd – 7th December
Following on from their multi award-winning success with The Play That Goes Wrong, Mischief Theatre are returning with their riotous spin on a timeless classic, the West End smash hit Peter Pan Goes Wrong. The members of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are back on stage, battling technical hitches, flying mishaps and cast disputes as they attempt to present J.M Barrie’s much-loved tale. But will they ever make it to Neverland? Fast becoming a global phenomenon, currently performing in 5 continents and 35 countries, Mischief’s unique brand of hilarious, ‘gut-busting’ comedy (New York Times), has found universal appeal. Catch them at The Lowry and brace yourselves for an awfully big adventure. Suitable for everyone – especially adults.
6th December – 5th January
With Christmas rapidly approaching, Santa’s little helpers and the team at Winterfunland have been working extra hard to get the north west’s largest indoor winter wonderland ready for everyone to enjoy. Last year’s event saw over 85,000 visitors enjoy a fun day out and they’re promising this year the event will be their best yet. Featuring five amazing attractions including a huge ice rink, a fabulous Christmas circus, an incredible panto, a vast indoor funfair and, of course, the main man himself – Santa – will be making an appearance. Doors open to the public on 6th December and will remain open until 5th January 2020. Tickets are available now. All-inclusive admission tickets are £23.50 per person with under 3’s going for free. Fastpass tickets to visit Father Christmas in Santa’s Grotto are also available from the website.
A festive silent adventure tour of the city
Manchester city centre
December 7th, 14th, 21st
You’ve heard of silent discos. But what about silent carol singing? The award-winning Silent Adventures Team have brought back the old fashioned tradition of carol singing but with a modern twist. Grab a pair of their state of the art headsets and get ready to rock around every Christmas tree in Manchester and celebrate the festive period in style. You will be ho ho ho-ing around the streets of Manchester for 60 mins with some of the greatest Christmas songs of all time. A perfect way to get the whole family in the festive spirit. Meeting point is at Banyan Bar and Kitchen and tickets must be bought in advance. Get ready to have a jolly ol’ time. Tickets start from £14.50.
Pete Tong Presents Ibiza Classics
Ibiza Classics is back. Now firmly part of the live music calendar, Pete Tong has announced his return to Manchester Arena along with Jules Buckley and The Heritage Orchestra with a brand new live show this month. It will feature dance anthems reimagined by a full orchestra into rousing new versions. What better way to drown out the grey skies, cold weather and the darkness than with the most iconic and evocative house music ever. Let the tracks transport you back to the famous White Isle and reminisce the hotter times.
Highsnobiety, The Warehouse Project and British streetwear retailer size? are teaming up with the Saatchi Gallery to host an exhibition on UK rave and trainer culture at abandoned train station Depot. Placing a particular focus on Manchester and the north as the heart of UK rave culture, the exhibition features a wide range of photographs, video and sculpture inspired by – and recovered from – the golden era of British underground culture. Expect to see shots from the Hacienda, The Stone Roses at Spike Island, the style of Northern Soul and satellite scenes in Salford, Luton, Leeds, Liverpool. 12pm – 8pm. Free
The Not Nineteen Forever rockers are gearing up to perform at Manchester Arena in the middle of December. The Manchester heroes are back in their homeland and will be woo-ing the audience with their many hits alongside special guest Miles Kane. The band’s long awaited sixth album More. Again. Forever. is set to be released on 17 January 2020. Some tickets available.
Matt Goss – A Vegas Christmas
If you prefer a Vegas Christmas to a vegan Christmas, this one’s for you. Heart throb Matt Goss, who shot to fame with his brother Luke as part of 80s boy band Bros, is bringing his fabulous Vegas Christmas show back to Manchester this December.
Expect a glass of fizz on arrival to start your evening off in style. Followed up by a 4-course dinner and half a bottle of wine per person. The evening will take place in a glamorous, intimate ballroom setting and after dinner, prepare to experience the highly acclaimed Matt Goss show – straight from the stage of Vegas. Matt’s performance will be accompanied by his 9-piece band, back up singers and stunning Las Vegas showgirls.
In the past, Matt has declared his love for Manchester, saying “The response I receive from the people of Manchester is always incredible,” and has also said he would love to fall in love with a Mancunian woman. So ladies, one of you might be in luck.
Tickets start from £53 and there is an option for a meet and greet.