Christmas is coming and the Christmas spirit is starting to appear everywhere you look. While Manchester City Centre is decked out for Christmas Markets and festive fun, there is plenty to keep you feeling festive in the wider city-region. From Stockport to Salford, Oldham to Wigan, there’s plenty of Christmas sparkle across the city-region whether you’re looking for a unique gift, stunning performances or some family fun.

Getting into to Christmas spirit doesn’t mean diving headfirst into the hustle and bustle of the city. To prove it, we’ve rounded up a list of just some of the festive happenings across Greater Manchester to help you find some activities closer to home.

RHS Glow


A Christmas Carol at the Octagon Theatre

This Christmas, Bolton’s Octagon Theatre will be showing a truly magical performance of the classic novel A Christmas Carol. Escape to Victorian England and re-live the story of Ebenezer Scrooge as he battles to find the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a story full of ghosts, mystery and of course Christmas joy. This heart-warming and uplifting tale of redemption is the perfect festive treat. In a brand-new stage adaptation from the writers of Octagon Theatre Bolton's 2019 festive production of Treasure Island will feature live music and a splash of magic.

Festive Escape Room 

Will you be able to beat the grinch and save Christmas? Or can you survive being Home Alone this Christmas? Find out at Bolton’s festive-themed Home Alone and The Grinch Escape Rooms at Escape Nation Bolton. For a family fun Christmas activity that is a bit more unusual than grottos and markets, you’ll have to work as a team to get out in time and ensure that everyone can enjoy a magical Christmas! This Children’s escape room adventure is fun for the whole family and tickets start from £9.

The Father Christmas Experience at Smithfield Hall

Bolton’s Smithfield Hall is hosting a Santa Experience like no other. Head to their stunning Elf Waiting Room filled with elf-made toys to play with, craft stations to make your own Christmas decorations and the chance to dress as a Victorian child and have your photograph taken by the Victorian Christmas Tree. There’s also a Candy Cane Trail you can enjoy while exploring the hall and much more. Visiting Santa is just the cherry on top! Child tickets cost £17.50 and include one adult and a gift from Santa. Extra adults cost just £2.50.

Christmas activities at The Hive at Moss Bank Park

Wreath making, breakfast with Santa, a Christmas campfire and cookie decorating are just some of the festive activities on offer at The Hive at Moss Bank Park this year. These events are designed to add a bit of magic to your little ones Christmas and bring a smile to your child’s face. Based within Bolton’s iconic Moss Bank Park, The Hive offers a unique space, made up of a series of gardens adorned with natural play equipment and at this time of year, it’s transformed so that families can enjoy some festive fun. Learn more.


Santa Special East Lancashire Railway

This Christmas the East Lancashire Railway is running a truly magical voyage through the Irwell Valley with Santa Specials. For these special events, Bury Station will be turned into a winter wonderland with singing polar bears, a magic tree, and elves watched over by Mrs Claus. Kids can meet their favourite Christmas characters and sing along to seasonal songs while they wait for Santa to make his way to your carriage. If they’re nice, he may even bring them a special gift. There will also be mince pies and festive treats for the whole family. The East Lancashire Railway Santa Special will take place on weekends between Saturday 26 November and Saturday 24 December. Learn more.

Christmas Treasure Hunt 

Santa has lost his gifts in Bury Town Centre and needs your family’s help finding them before Christmas begins. On Saturday, November 26, join Mrs Claus as she hunts for Santa’s gifts. The treasure hunt will take place from 12 pm to 3 pm and tickets cost £6 which includes a special goodie bag and book for children to take home afterwards. Learn more.

Santa’s Grotto in Summerseat

Santa is coming to Summerseat Garden Centre! In the run-up to Christmas, the garden centre will be transformed into the North Pole, you’ll be greeted by elves who will take you to experience Santa’s magical grotto. A child’s ticket costs £9.99 and includes the grotto experience, two accompanying adults and a gift. All proceeds from the grotto will be donated to Save the Children. Learn more.

Dick Whittington The Met

If you’re a fan of a Christmas trip to the panto, the pantomime classic Dick Whittington and his cat are coming to Bury’s The Met. Will they find fame, fortune and adventure? Are the streets paved with gold? And will the cat catch the rat before the rat catches them? Expect songs, laughter and fun from this traditional family pantomime this Christmas time! The Show runs from Thursday 8 December to Saturday 24 December and tickets start from £13 for children and £16 for adults. Book now.


Santa Parade Oldham

Santa and his famous Reindeer will take over Oldham Town Centre this year with a fun, free and festive parade. On Saturday 26 November, join Santa, his reindeer and over 200 local performers for a magical Christmas parade that is free for everyone to enjoy. There will be music from Oldham pipers and brass bands alongside fantastic floats and entertainment to help you get into the festive spirit. The parade begins at 1 pm and entertainment will last until 4 pm with a chance to meet the reindeer! Learn more. 

Christmas at Cockfields Farm

Cockfields Farm is hosting a magical family Christmas experience this year to help you make some special memories. Santa, his reindeer and elves take you on a magical journey starting at the North Pole check-in so you can collect stickers on your adventure, Then visit Santa in his magical Grotto, The Toy Soldier in the Toy, the elf village, Mrs Claus’s Kitchen for a yummy hot chocolate and Santa’s reindeer for a Christmas story in the stables. Christmas at Cockfields Farm runs on weekends from Saturday 26 November to Sunday 11 December and then all week from Saturday 17 December to Saturday 24 December. Learn more.

Brass Monkeys Festival

The sounds of Christmas classics and festive favourites will fill the streets of Oldham again as the Brass Monkeys Festival returns. On Saturday 10 December from 11 am to 3 pm, seven of the best brass bands will be playing across High Street, Tommyfield Market and Oldham Parish Church. The festival unites the best local and national brass bands and will be completely free for Oldham visitors to enjoy, so get ready to embrace the seasonal sounds. Learn more.

Robin Hood Oldham Coliseum

Oldham’s pantomime offering this year will take you to Sherwood Forest. Join Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men as they try to stop the nasty Sheriff from terrorising the people and rescue Maid Marian. Oldham Coliseum is known for having the best traditional pantomime in the North West and this Christmas is sure to be no exception. With silliness, songs and a little bit of magic, Robin Hood is on target for a fabulously festive family performance. The pantomime will run from Saturday 12 November to Wednesday 7 January and tickets start from £15.50. Book now.

The Night the Frost Fell Oldham Library

This Christmas, Oldham Theatre Workshop presents The Night the Frost Fell at Oldham Library. Everyone knows the legend of Jack Frost, but on a dark and cold Christmas Eve the North winds wake the sleeping spirit and the whole town begins to freeze until time itself stands still. With time frozen and the frost getting thicker, can Bobbi discover how to lift the curse, melt the frost and save Christmas? Will her Christmas wish finally come true? This delightful story with magical characters and songs will wow little ones. This show runs on various dates from Saturday 3 December to Saturday 24 December and tickets start from £8. Learn more.


Street Eat Christmas Edition

Rochdale’s Street Eat Festival is back for a special Christmas edition. Following the success of this year’s summer festival, expect the finest street food, festive tipples and seasonal entertainment at The Butts on Saturday 17 December. This is the first-ever Christmas Street Eat Festival, with Rochdale’s best food and drink establishments, live festive entertainment and a visit from Father Christmas. Admission is free and the event runs from 11 am to 7 pm. All dishes will be £5 or less. Learn more.

Santa’s Grotto Touchstones

Santa and his pesky elf are returning to Touchstones this year! Head to this historic building to hear some of Santa’s favourite stories, get arty with some Christmas crafts and get a special gift from the man himself. Santa will be there from Saturday 17 December to Saturday 24 December and booking is essential as Santa gets super busy at this time of year. Tickets cost £10 and parents and guardians do not need to book a ticket. Learn more.

Snow White Middleton Arena

This Christmas, Rochdale is hosting the fairest pantomime of them all. Will Snow White meet her handsome prince and live happily ever after or will the Wicked Queen stand in her way? It’s amazing what can happen with a little help from friends. Starring Strictly Come Dancing champion Katya Jones as The Wicked Queen, CBBC’s Hacker T. Dog as The Magic Mirror (as a pre-recorded performance), Matthew Siveter as Dame Dolly and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Lucy Kay as Snow White, this is not a performance to be missed. The show runs from Tuesday 29 November to Wednesday 28 December and tickets start from £15.50, learn more.

Jack and The Beanstalk Heywood Civic Centre

Heywood Civic Centre’s highly anticipated Christmas panto is back following the two-year break and it's not one to miss. Enjoy a twist on the classic Jack and The Beanstalk as you watch Jack rescue Princess Jill from the Giant’s castle. Former Corrie star Tracy Shaw takes on the role of the Giant’s evil henchwoman “Fleshcreep” bringing some fe, fi, fo, fun alongside great songs, dance routines and plenty of laughter for all the family. Jack and The Beanstalk will run from Saturday 17th December until Wednesday 28th December with matinee and evening performances. Ticket prices start from £9.50. Learn more.

Santa Dash Heywood

For a family festive event with a difference, why not join a Santa Dash? Join Springhill Hospice on their annual fun run, walk or stroll through the beautiful surroundings of Queens Park decked in your Santa suits. It is the season of goodwill after all. Throughout the walk, you can enjoy the Christmas tunes from the brass band to get you in the festive mood. All ages and pets are welcome, tickets cost £10 for adults and £8 for children but include a Santa suit and medal. Learn more.


Christmas Theatre at The Lowry 

The Lowry Theatre has a fun-filled festive programme, with something for toddlers, kids and grown-ups to ensure everyone gets into the Christmas spirit.

From the writer of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and based on the children’s book The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum, comes Claus The Musical. This heartwarming play tells the story of Claus’s upbringing and how he became a Christmas legend. With spellbinding songs and a stunning story, you won’t want to miss this world premiere. Running from Wednesday 14 December to Thursday 8 Jan, tickets start from £22.50. Book now.

Tiny tots can also enjoy some festive theatre at The Lowry with Little Penguin’s First Christmas. Aimed at babies from 0 – 36 months and their grown-ups, this immersive experience will transport you to Little Penguin’s winter wonderland as she discovers her first Christmas. With puppets, music and sensory delights, little ones will be truly captivated. This show runs from Thursday 22 December to Saturday 31 December. Tickets start from £16.50 for parents and babies and ticket prices include a copy of Little Penguin’s First Christmas to take home. Book now.

Claus Poster

Glow 2022 RHS Garden Bridgewater

Salford’s RHS Garden Bridgewater is letting it glow this Christmas in an unmissable after-dark light show. The garden will be lit up in breathtaking light displays with a sparkling new trail full of festive sparkle. There’s a magical family discovery trail inspired by local folklore, a dramatic fountain display, colourful projections and more magic. Glow 2022 runs from Wednesday to Saturday between Wednesday 16 November and Saturday 17 December then from Tuesdays to Fridays between Tuesday 20 December and Friday 30 December. Prebooked tickets only with an adult non-member costing £12 and Children between 5 and 16 £6, and under 5s go free. Book Now.

Quayside Christmas Markets

This Christmas, the festive maker's markets will be taking over the plaza at Quayside shopping centre to help you find unique gifts from local crafters and suppliers. Shop locally and find a truly exceptional gift for someone special. The markets will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday between Friday 25 November and Sunday 18 December. Learn more.

Monton Voices at Salford Museum and Art Gallery

On Sunday 18 December, head to the Salford Museum and Art Gallery for a traditional afternoon of Christmas Carols in the Victorian Gallery. This free event will give you a heartwarming feeling and will truly welcome the festive season in traditional style. From 1:30 pm to 3 pm local choir group Monton Voices will fill the museum with festive carols in a wonderful treat for the whole family. Learn more.


The Magic of Christmas at Merseyway

This year, Merseyway Shopping Centre is offering free festive fun to get you in the mood for the Christmas period. You can write a letter to Father Christmas and post it in the special magic post-box, enjoy festive huts, late-night shopping, elf makeovers and enjoy story time with Mrs Claus every weekend in December from 11 am to 3 pm (tickets cost £2 with proceeds going to the Giving Tree Appeal). You can even donate a gift at Merseyway’s annual Giving Tree to celebrate the season of goodwill. Learn more.

The Elf Express Train

On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December, jump on board the Elf Express Train. Departing from Chestergate, this free train will take you on a magical festive tour of Stockport town with plenty of festive fun to be had. Take in the Christmas decorations and enjoy an enchanting journey that little ones will love. Learn more.

Christmas Fayre Night Stockport Town Hall

Whether you’re searching for last-minute gifts or are simply looking for a festive way to spend an evening, Stockport Town Hall will be hosting a Christmas Fayre on Thursday 8 December from 2 pm to 8 pm. Expect a whole host of local traders, food stands, music and even a raffle raising money for the Wellspring Stockport. Entry is free. Learn more.

Cinderella at The Plaza

This Christmas you shall go to the ball as Cinderella is coming to Stockport Plaza. Watch as the magical rags-to-riches fairy tale will be brought to life in Stockport’s family pantomime. This year it will star Cheryl Fergison best known as Heather Trott in Eastenders. Get ready to have a ball, but don’t worry you won’t be turned into a pumpkin at midnight. This glittering show will run from Thursday 8 December to Sunday 8 January, tickets start from £17.05. Book now.

Visit Father Christmas at Staircase House

On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December, Father Christmas will be coming to Staircase House in a magical weekend for kids. As well as visiting Father Christmas and receiving a gift, children will be able to complete a special reindeer trail around Staircase House and take part in festive craft activities at our Christmas Creation Station, to make a wonderful seasonal day out. Admission to this event is £12.50 per child, including special free entry for up to 2 adults with each booking. Any additional adults will be required to pay the standard admission fee (£5.50 for adults and £4.00 for concessions). Learn more.

Stockport’s Markets

Nothing says Christmas like a Christmas market. From the North West’s favourite Makers Market to Stockport’s traditional marketplace, there’s plenty of opportunity to find unique gifts and support local businesses this Christmas. Grab a hot chocolate and browse some spectacular stalls. Join the finest makers, bakers and creators as you search for perfect gifts as the Makers Market comes to Stockport on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December. Plus, Stockport Market will be giving away 11 sets of vouchers worth £100 each along with a star prize of £500 to spend in the market hall. What could be better? Learn more.


Sail with Santa Portland Basin Museum

Join Santa onboard the Community Spirit canal boat for a festive 35-minute round trip along the canals of Tameside. Expect songs, stories, and presents on this festive boat trip which is sure to be a magical day out for the whole family. Each ticket includes a snack for the children and a mince pie or cake and a hot drink for the grown-ups. Spaces are limited to 10 people per trip and all passengers (including babes in arms) must purchase a ticket to be allowed on board. You can sail with Santa on various dates throughout December. Learn more.

Christmas Carol Service at Flowery Fields

Would it be Christmas without carols? Flowery Fields Church in Hyde will once again host its popular carol service at 2:25 pm on Sunday, December 11. Join the Adamson Military Band for this spectacular service which will leave you feeling warm and cosy inside, it’s the perfect way to begin a traditional Christmas season. Learn more.

Tameside Music’s Christmas Concerts

Head to Hyde for an evening full of festive music this Christmas. On Thursday 8 December, Tameside Music Service will host its Big Christmas Concert, an evening of festive music from its wind, brass, and string ensembles. This concert is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit and Hyde Town Hall is expected to be full of Christmas cheer. Tickets are just £3 and are free for children aged 5 and under. Learn more.

Tameside Music Service will also host a Brass and Carol Service on Wednesday 14 December at St Peter’s Church in Ashton-under-Lyne. During this wonderful evening of traditional Christmas carols and songs, Tameside Music Service will be joined by choirs from local primary schools and a brass band. Don’t miss your chance to sing along with your favourites. Tickets are just £3, and free for children aged 5 and under. Learn more.


The Trafford Centre Tinseltown

The Trafford Centre is decking its halls and bringing you a seasonal celebration like no other. Tinseltown is opening up its doors for some festive fun this year. You can expect a festive fairground, a spectacular ice show, an ice rink, an outdoor cinema and even Paddington Bear! There is plenty of delicious food and live entertainment to get you into the Christmas spirit alongside characters and face painting to help little ones join in with the fun. Learn more.

Carols from King’s Court Altrincham 

Altrincham has plenty of festivities this year to bring Christmas to life with a programme of magical events including visits from Santa. However, one of the star events this Christmas will be Carols from King’s Court. On Tuesday 13 December, enjoy festive drinks and hot food while The Music Place Choir sings some sensational seasonal songs. You’re sure to feel incredibly festive. Learn more.

Christmas Story Time at Trafford Libraries – Aladdin Urmston, Charlottes Webb Altrincham 

For little ones, a Christmas story is a great way to keep the magic alive while they wait for the big day. Trafford Libraries run Rhymetime and Storytime throughout the year, but in the run-up to Christmas, the stories are sure to be full of festive magic. Aimed at the under 5s, these sessions are free but places are on a first come first served basis. Learn more.

A Very Merry Octonauts Christmas

This December, join the Octonauts in a special Christmas mission at SEA LIFE Manchester. The intrepid explorers need families to help with a scavenger hunt and answer the Christmas conundrums hidden around the aquarium! There are prizes for completing the mission. Plus, there will also be the chance to meet Peso, take cool photos, enjoy Octonauts-themed crafts and enjoy Christmas decorations around the aquarium. Tickets are included with SEA LIFE admission and the Octonauts event runs from Saturday 3 December to Saturday 31 December. Learn more.

Christmas Bricktacular

This year, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester is hosting a LEGO-tastic Christmas. Enjoy festive-themed activities, rides, build and play zones and a 4D cinema experience at the ultimate LEGO playground. There will be a winter wonderland scavenger hunt, a chance to build a LEGO Christmas decoration, dance parties to rock around the Christmas tree and the chance to win treats on the advent wheel. Plus, you can upgrade your ticket to visit Santa at the LEGO North Pole. The Christmas Bricktacular runs from Saturday 3 December to Friday 30 December and the event is included with admission, with additional costs to upgrade to meet Santa. Learn more.

LEGO Santa

Christmas on the Cobbles

Soapland is always full of drama at Christmas time, and this year, Coronation Street The Tour is giving you a chance to be a part of the action. Wrap up warm and hit the cobbles as the street will be decked in Christmas lights and decorations. Hear stories of Christmas past, hear carol singers and enjoy festive treats behind the scenes of the Nation’s most famous street. Christmas on the Cobbles tours will run on selected dates between Friday 2 December and Saturday 31 December. On Sunday 27 December, a special live show Carols on the Cobbles will kick off the Christmas season in style.


Frost Festival 

Wigan’s Frost Festival is back with fun, festive events taking place across the borough. Festive street entertainment will take over every weekend from Saturday 26 November to Saturday 18 December. Wigan Town Centre will also welcome Santa and his reindeer as they lead a parade complete with funfair rides, markets and a stage show on Sunday 27 November. Learn more.

Wigand and Leigh Christmas Markets

Looking for a special Christmas gift? Across Wigan and Leigh, there are many Christmas markets that will help you find a unique present that will even put Santa to shame. Wigan and Leigh town centres will be sprinkled with Christmas magic with festive street entertainment to entertain the family while you shop for your Christmas gifts for loved ones from a selection of local makers and lots of great food and drink to choose from. On Saturday 19th December Leigh Town Centre will host a market from 10 am, and Leigh Civic Square from 1.30 pm. On Sunday 20th Leigh’s Christmas market will be held at Spinning Gate Shopping Centre Car Park from 11 am. Wigan’s Christmas market will be held at Standishgate every weekend from 26 November to 18 December, Saturdays from 10 am, and Sundays from 11 am. There are also more local Christmas markets showcasing artisan crafters, rides, entertainment and more. Learn more.

Inside the Igloo Live! 

Hawk Dance Theatre and The Knotted Project will fill little ones with festive wonder as they perform Inside the Igloo Live! The show will be at Atherton Library on Wednesday 7 December and Leigh Library on Thursday 8 December. Kids will love following the antics of the penguins, Pixel, Crash and Click as they make an adventure out of being stuck inside their igloo. This free interactive show is perfect for all ages and makes a truly festive family treat that you won’t want to miss. 

Aladdin at Wigan Old Courts

Looking for a magical Christmas pantomime in Wigan? Your wish is Pendle production’s command. The Old Courts Art Centre is ready to bring you another magical family pantomime this festive season, and this year they’re showing Aladdin. Get ready to be transported to another land as Aladdin finds a magic lamp (and a magic carpet) that could change his life forever. This pantomime will be a laugh a minute. The show runs from Saturday 3 December to Saturday 23 December with tickets starting from £15.12. Book now.

For more inspiration on things to do this Christmas in Greater Manchester view our 51 things to do blog.

To find out about more events across the city-region, view our What’s On page.