Our top tips for making the most of the week ahead, with brilliant things to do across the whole of Greater Manchester…  For even more ideas, visit our What’s On page.

1. Stunning replica of planet Earth on display in Rochdale

The internationally renowned Gaia installation by artist Luke Jerram is to be exhibited at Number One Riverside in Rochdale from Saturday 20 November until Christmas Eve. The huge seven-meter, 3D globe provides the opportunity to see the planet on a huge scale, using detailed NASA imagery of Earth’s surface. The glowing artwork will be free to view, and open seven days a week and throughout the exhibition will feature shows including the ‘Extraordinary Insects’ show, live theatre, and acrobatics. 

2. Festivities begin as Winter Island opens at Escape to Freight Island

Escape to Freight Island’s magical new addition – Winter Island – introduces for the first time this Christmas its ice rink in the sky, located on the mezzanine floor under the striking Depot Mayfield roof. The rink forms part of a semi self-contained winter village, where food and drinks are available, including festive favourites mulled wine, hog roast sandwiches and bratwurst. Tickets can be purchased here.

3. RHS Garden Bridgewater lights up in spectacular colours with Glow 2021

For the very first time, join RHS Garden Bridgewater for Glow, and see the garden in a whole new light. Follow the sparkling trail around the garden and see the site transformed with spectacular illuminations, with sparkling trees, shrubs and water features lit up around the garden’s best-loved locations including the Weston Walled Garden, Chinese Streamside Garden and Ellesmere Lake. They’ll also be warming drinks and festive treats along the route. Glow opens on 17 November and runs until 30 December, tickets can be purchased here.

4. The Refuge Christmas Carol events return

Manchester’s much-loved bar and restaurant, The Refuge at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel, has announced the return of its magical Christmas Carol – a celebration of festive food and drink that starts the countdown to Christmas. A range of events are taking place leading up to Christmas, starting with DJs in the public bar from Thursday until Sunday. Keep an eye out for future events on the way, which include a fancy dress contest for dogs, Christmas Wreath Making workshop, and a Christmas fair. 

5. Christmas lights are switched on across Greater Manchester

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, with three major Christmas Light Switch On’s taking place across Greater Manchester on 20 November. Wigan’s event will take place in the town centre setting the area aglow with festivities at Market Place from 3pm, and a Switch On at 6pm; in Oldham, Parliament Square is your hub of Christmas entertainment from 12-4pm, with the countdown to Light Switch On starting at 5:30pm, which includes a family fairytale show with pyrotechnic finale; and in Rochdale, special street displays and live performances begin at 3:30pm, with the Switch On taking place by Father Christmas and special guests at Rochdale Riverside at 4pm.

Book now: Christmas season at The Stoller Hall

The Stoller Hall has announced its festive season, with festive choirs, classical singers, big band spectaculars, artisan markets and theatre all taking place throughout December. Plus, for the first time ever, the venue will premiere its own pantomime with Jack and the Beanstalk. Tickets are now on sale for the Christmas programme here.