Pic Karen Wright

Christmas is one of the most exciting times of year, especially if you have a house full of hyperactive kids filled with E-numbers from all the chocolate they’ve been feasting on. As joyful as that noisy household may be, it’s not an easy task keeping them entertained for two weeks. With this in mind, here’s our pick of the best family friendly activities taking place over the festive period, just in case. You’re welcome.

Claus’ Christmas Cabin Lowry Outlet

Let your little angels run wild as they step into the magical Claus’ Cabin at The Lowry Outlet. They will be able to meet Santa, hear stories from Mrs Claus and receive a special toy during their visit. Visit the reindeer stables and have a look at the beautiful log cabin. For children aged 1-9 years old. Entry is £8 per child and adults are free. November 22nd – December 24th.

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Santa’s Grotto in the Manchester Arndale

Start your journey in the snow-covered garden of Santa’s Scandinavian log cabin by casting your wishes into the brand new wishing well and hang out and have fun with the Lapland Elves while waiting to see the main man. £5.50 plus booking fee. November 22nd – December 24th.

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Peter Rabbit Grotto at intu Trafford Centre

Beatrix Potter’s most famous character is being brought to life in an immersive Christmas grotto experience at intu Trafford Centre this Christmas. Experience the wonders of a Peter Rabbit-inspired grotto as the story of Beatrix Potter’s woodland wonderland is brought to life by actors playing the part of Peter and friends who will share their Christmas traditions with you and your family. November 14th – December 24th. Adults £5.50, Children £8.50

Free kids ‘nature in the city’ sessions in Manchester

Great Northern Warehouse is hosting a free stay and play session for kids from across Manchester, focusing on connecting to nature. Based in the amphitheatre, the Forest Tots sessions will take place in festive teepees. All led by a fully qualified Forest School leader, the sessions will be creative and may include creating twig mobiles, weaving a nest, going on an urban bug hunt, using berries to make paint and even creating a city den. The Great Northern Forest Tots is aimed at children under 5 years old who must be accompanied by an adult. Maximum of 15 children per session. Every Wednesday from 10.30am-12.30pm. Free.

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Walking with The Snowman Trail

Pic Karen Wright

A festive sculpture trail is taking place around The Lowry Outlet and MediaCityUK this Christmas to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. Take a wintery walk around the first ever sculpture trail inspired by the nation’s favourite Christmas story with 12 giant Snowman sculptures all waiting to be found, each based on the song The Twelve Days of Christmas as well as smaller, beautifully designed snowmen by local schools and groups. Grab your snow boots, wrap up warm and go on a magical Christmas adventure with your friends or family. Free. November 22nd – January 6th.

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Ice Village, Cathedral Gardens

It’s the first dedicated Ice Village in the UK and its officially open in Manchester. Expect spectacular ice sculptures, ice thrones and an ice rink. Set in the Cathedral Gardens area next to the Urbis this is already a huge draw for many families. Make sure to wrap up warm though – as expected – its FREEZING! Adults £11, children £9 Family tickets priced at £35.

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The Forest of Forgotten Discos at Hope Mill

There’s a mystery in the forest. Everyone has forgotten about dancing, bright lights and disco. Even Alexa, the virtual assistant from the Amazon rainforest, doesn’t know why. Meet Bear Hug, a bear with a secret. Bear minimum has a messy bedroom and Bear Grills just can’t keep his head cool. Fun for everyone at Hope Mill this festive period. For Children aged 5+. Tickets start from £7. 11th December – 16th December plus some shows on the 23rd December. For ur list of shows and pantos across Manchester click here

Christmas Drive-In at A J Bell Stadium

The A J Bell Stadium, home of Salford Reds RLFC, is hosting a giant drive-in cinema showing films including family favourite Elf, The Greatest Showman and Home Alone to name a few. Elves will be on hand serving festive cocktails and drinks at Santa’s North Pole Bar. Claiming to be Europe’s biggest Christmas drive-in, this four day event is expected to be a great addition to the festivities taking place in and around Manchester. Entry is £26 per car and you can take along your own food and drink or enjoy treats from vendors. Families are strongly encouraged to dress up or at least wear their best Christmas knitwear. December 20th – December 23rd.

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A Christmas Eve Box Workshop at Selfridges Trafford

Make a surprise gift for Santa and his helpers to discover whilst they’re out delivering presents on Christmas Eve. Fill your box with presents you make for them before enjoying a sweet treat and drink. Saturday 15th December. For 3-10 year olds accompanied. Tickets £15.

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Visit Santa’s Grotto

What could be more Christmassy than meeting the big man himself ahead of December 25th? Luckily there are a whole host of Christmas grottos across the city this year for those with younger ones in tow.  Check out our guide to Santa’s grottos here.

Father Christmas at Waterside in Sale

Step inside the bloomin’ brilliant world of Father Christmas this winter at Waterside. Children of all ages will love Raymond Briggs’ grumpy but loveable Father Christmas as he gets ready for his busiest day of the year: Christmas Eve.  Watch as he prepares his Christmas deliveries, feeds his reindeer and takes flight into the snowy night. But things don’t run smoothly and he soon encounters soot-covered chimneys to squeeze through and treacherous weather conditions, all while plenty of mischief is had by his cheeky pets, Cat and Dog. With plenty of live music, songs and playful puppetry, this critically acclaimed adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ much loved book is a delightful festive treat for children. Tuesday 4th December – Monday 31st December Tickets start from £10.

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White at HOME theatre

Pic Douglas McBride

Welcome to the beautifully strange world of White. Full of birdsong and birdhouses, it gleams and dazzles and shines in the night. Two friends look after the birds and make sure the eggs stay safe. We watch, we help. The world is bright, ordered and white. But high up in the trees, something’s different – everything isn’t so white. Colour appears. First red… then yellow… then blue… Presented by Catherine Wheels, this playful, highly visual show for very young children is a perfect first time experience. Tickets start from £7. Thursday 13th December – Sunday 23rd December.

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