In IdeasEvents

A big ho, ho, ho from everyone at Creative Tourist. This months picks are just as festive as you’d expect.

The Ice Queen by Walk The Plank. Credit Karen Wright.

Christmas in Manchester

Adapted from the cult film by Mel Brooks, The Royal Exchange are set to delight with their Christmas musical – The Producers (30 November - 26 January).

Stick Man (The Lowry, 1 Dec - 6 Jan), the much-loved Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler tale of misadventure is brought to life for small people and their grown ups this festive season by Scamp Theatre.

Lucky for us that The Whitworth’s cultural cornucopia of outdoor and indoor arts, music, film food and drink for all the family, The Frost Fair (1-2 Dec), is returning this winter.

Who doesn’t love a charmingly grumpy character? Especially when it’s the big man himself? Lucky for us that the critically acclaimed production of Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas (4-31 Dec) docks at Waterside this Christmas.

Get your Christmas off to a galloping start with Black Beauty (Z-arts 6-15 Dec), an award-winning family adventure of friendship, courage, hope and heroes.

This festive season, join Contact and Jackie Hagan for a new and exciting show for children aged 5+ (and the older ones who look after them!) The Forest of Forgotten Discos! (Hope Mill Theatre, 11-23 Dec)

Get your tickets quick to have your eyes opened by a whole other (animal) world this festive season. Mark Williams (The Fast Show) stars in the title role of this major new musical adaptation of Doctor Dolittle (The Lowry, 11 Dec - 5 Jan).

The beautifully strange world of White (HOME, 13-23 Dec) is the hottest ticket for toddlers in town this Christmas.

Five world-class musicians who have mastered over 100 instruments between them bring Släpstick (13-22 Dec) to HOME – a dazzling blend of warm nostalgia, virtuosic musicianship and physical comedy.

Neil Brand’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (Stoller Hall, 15 Dec) gives it a dark and atmospheric twist – helped along by Chester Philharmonic Orchestra, Manchester Chamber Choir and actors from Manchester School of Theatre. The leading role of Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Timothy West for this one-off staging.

With Morecambe and Wise’s most-loved routines, songs and sketches, An Evening of Eric & Ern at Christmas (18 Dec - 6 Jan) is a superb homage to the comedy duo.

Need a helping hand finding that festive spirit? Look no further than the Hallé Christmas Extravaganza! (The Bridgewater Hall, 21 Dec).

Casino Royale in Concert (The Bridgewater Hall, 29 Dec): For the first time ever, experience Bond on the big screen accompanied by the full force of the Hallé performing David Arnold’s thrilling musical score live and in sync to picture!

You can also check out our picks of Christmas Shopping in Manchester, Family things to do at Christmas and our choice of the best things to do for New Year’s Eve in Manchester.

Image courtesy of Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM)

Music in Manchester

We interview harp-driven dream pop band Diving Station ahead of their EP launch at Gullivers on the 4 December.

Zeal & Ardor (Gorilla, 5 Dec) fuse blues, gospel and metal to make music that feels utterly fresh.

American songwriter Julia Holter (Gorilla, 6 Dec) heads to Manchester in support of her new album Aviary.

Featuring some of Puccini’s most famous arias, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi (RNCM, 7-15 Dec) are beautifully linked by a common thread – a tragic opera about death, followed by a witty farce that explores the same theme.

In the mountain range of piano concertos, Rachmaninov’s Third is the Everest – intense and immense, technically demanding and emotionally overpowering. Few pianists prove equal to the task – but, as his acclaimed performance of the work at the BBC Proms last year made clear, Alexander Gavrylyuk is more than a match for it. BBC Philharmonic (Bridgewater Hall, 8 December).

For his third and latest album, electronic musician and DJ James Holden (Royal Exchange, 9 Dec) has recruited a band – The Animal Spirits – to supplement his custom-made modular synths with brass, woodwind and percussion. Experience the record live and in-the-round at the Royal Exchange theatre.

Perfect for winter, The Hallé present Finlandia (The Bridgewater Hall, 13 Dec), a celebration of the two towering figures of Scandinavian classical music – Sibelius and Grieg.

Band on the Wall takes the multi-talented Werkha (14 Dec) across town to the beautiful Loft at 13 Quay St, Manchester, where he’ll play with and alongside an exciting array of artists.

Roee Rosen, The Dust Channel (film still), 2016

Exhibitions in Manchester

HOME Exhibitions curator Bren O’Callaghan will talk you through the themes of artist John Walter’s current exhibition CAPSID (Guided Tour, 8 Dec) and his practice, unpicking the concept of maximalism, shonky aesthetics and virology.

Re: work (5-19 December) at The Holden Gallery on Oxford Road deals in the notion of transformation – the artists re-working ordinary things in order to make and think about something anew.

Lowry & The Pre-Raphaelites (until 24 February) at The Lowry in Salford provides an unexpected insight into the artistic imagination of one of the UK’s most popular artists.

Martin Parr: Return to Manchester (Manchester Art Gallery, until 22 April) shows how the lives of Mancunians have changed but also reveals how there is continuity in how we live our lives, capturing the familiar in a new and wry way.

Castlefield Gallery’s latest exhibition, The Ground Beneath Your Feet (until – 3 February), invites a more nuanced conversation around multiple geopolitical issues that currently dominate our headlines.

Writer Fatema Abdoolcarim.

Literature in Manchester

Murmur #7 (Common, 9 Dec) welcomes artist and poet Ed Atkins (last here for Performance Capture, his exhibition at Manchester International Festival 2015) and visual artist, filmmaker and writer Fatema Abdoolcarim, plus music from SMS DJs.

The Caroline Chisholm Reading (Burgess Foundation, 10 Dec) is the annual event honouring the memory of Caroline Chisholm, who was a valued member of the Centre for New Writing community, welcomes multi-award-winning author Ross Raisin, named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.

No Matter #4 (The Castle, 12 Dec) welcomes poets Emma Bolland, #Interrupteur artist-writer in residence at the University of Sheffield, Poetry Wales editor Nia Davies and Rebecca Tamás, whose new collection will be published by Penned in the Margins in 2019. Bring your change purse – there will be book and pamphlet buying opportunities.

The Village Screen

Cinema in Manchester

HOME present a season of Slapstick (7 Dec - 20 Jan) with appearances from Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers.

In his final performance before retiring, Robert Redford shines as Forrest Tucker, an unrepentant bank robber determined to live life by his own rules. An exhilarating tale of felonious mischief, the film also riffs on what it means to be an outlaw in a time of convention. The Old Man & The Gun (HOME, 7-20 Dec).

Join Alliance Française (7 Dec) for their fortnightly film club showing a wide range of French language cinema.

The Village Screen (7-9 Dec) pops up at Victoria Baths for a Christmas-themed weekend cinema showing everything from kids’ classics, to romantic winter warmers, and a certain Bruce Willis action extravaganza.

It’s Christmas, Grimmfest style, as the horror movie specialists present alt-festive fave, Krampus (Central Library, 12 Dec).

Go back in time with At HOME in the ’80s (14-22 Dec), HOME’s retro extravaganza. With comedy, action and adventure, this year’s season of ’80s films are scheduled to rekindle the spirit of Christmases gone by…

Suffragette newspaper, 1912 © Royal College of Nursing Library & Archives

Tours & Activities in Manchester

Join Gin Meister (5 Dec) for a collection of artisanal gins that epitomise the festive spirit in the fantastic surroundings of Salford Museum and Art Gallery.

In this year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lecture (Science & Industry Museum, 11 Dec) Prof Alice Roberts will seek to answer the most fundamental question: ‘Who am I?’

Join Audrey Arden-Jones in the People’s History Museum’s Radical Lates (13 Dec) series where she’ll be performing poetry by female authors involved in the campaign for women’s suffrage.


Check out our full monthly roundup on Creative Tourist for even more things to do in December in Manchester and the North.

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