Whether it’s ice skating, gorging yourself on chocolate, sipping a pint while watching the boxing or avoiding all talk of Brexit, there’s something for everyone this December in Manchester.
So here’s our advent guide (spoiler alert – we may have spilled over into January, there’s THAT much going on…)
Art (Rick Baker)
Cezanne at the Whitworth
The Whitworth Art Gallery has been housing a vast array of drawings by the Post-Impressionist Paul Cezanne since August this year. The exhibition of his rough sketches, acting as guides for his larger oil paintings, has been well received and is one of very few retrospective exhibitions of a major artist that’s being shown further north than Watford.
It is the first exhibition of his sketches in the UK since 1973 and highlights the forgotten yet intimate side of any artist’s career, their sketches. The exhibition runs until March 2020.
Amang Mardokhy: Painting Live to Music Workshop
This workshop aims to encourage your artwork to be influenced by the live music that will be played during the workshop. Mardokhy, himself an artist, will conduct the workshop in which resources are provided.
By the end of the experience you will be able to take home what you have created, something that will have links to the music that has been playing. A small fee of £8 (£6 conc) is charged and takes place on Wednesday December 8 at 18:00 at HOME. It can be booked here: https://homemcr.org/event/amang-mardokhy-painting-live-to-music-workshop/
ONE69A/Fabric Screen Printing/Full Day Workshop
If you want to play the act of the artist, instead of looking at other artists work in a gallery, then this workshop at Islington Mill should provide just that. The 20th century cotton mills are a 15 minute commute from Manchester City Centre, and have acted as a haven for all things creative for many years.
Tap into your inner-Warhol by producing original screen prints that you will be able to take home. The full day workshop runs from 10:00-17:00 on December 7 and places can be booked here: https://one69a.com/product/fabric-screen-printing-full-day-workshop/
Standardisation and Deviation: The Whitworth Story
Brush up on your knowledge of the cultural side of Manchester with the help of a new exhibition at the Whitworth starting on Dec 14.
This exhibit charts the story of the Whitworth Art Gallery, a name synonymous with the city of Manchester, and how the gallery has ‘deviated’ from the usual practices of British art houses. The gallery was set up to honour the legacy of local industrialist, Sir Joseph Whitworth, founded on the principle to act for the “perpetual gratification of the people of Manchester”.
Joseph Whitworth created the idea of standardisation in industry which helped the industrial revolution rage on, in turn fuelling a recognition of the North. A recognition that has since been all too short lived.
And Breathe… at the Manchester Art Gallery
If you are feeling beat down by hearing the word ‘Brexit’ for the 50th time today or tired from going to the polls for the third time in five years then why not unwind and give your body a bit of mindfulness at the Manchester Art Gallery.
This free exhibition seeks to explore the connection between being surrounded by art and its effect on emotional wellbeing. It has been co-curated by Depaul UK, a charity that helps young people dealing with homelessness. ‘And Breathe…’ runs until 19th January.
Entertainment (Ben Parsons)
The Ice Village in Manchester Cathedral Gardens – open throughout December
The ultimate ice experience returns with a brand new ice rink and -10 degrees Ice Tiki bar. Fun activities for families include an interactive ice sculpture experience, children’s craft and an unforgettable trip to Santa’s Grotto. https://icevillage.co.uk/buy-tickets/
Lightopia Festival in Heaton Park in Heaton Park – Nov 21-Dec 31
A brand new visually-dramatic light and lantern festival held in Europe’s largest municipal park. Lightopia is a stunning exploration of light and an alternate family adventure this December. Food and drink is available as well as some gifts and crafts to treat loved ones this Christmas. Book tickets here: https://www.lightopiafestival.com/ticket/
The Bodyguard at Palace Theatre – Dec 10-January 4
The award-winning musical based on the popular film ‘The Bodyguard’ returns to Manchester this winter. Following her sell-out UK tour, X Factor winner Alexandra Burke will play the role of Rachel Marron in the show re-enacting the blockbuster romantic thriller. Buy tickets: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-bodyguard/palace-theatre-manchester/
The Gruffalo’s Child at Lowry, Salford – Dec 6-Jan 12
Following its success in the West End,Tall Stories’ ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ comes to Quays Theatre in Salford. Witness a captivating twist on the famous picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. This is truly a show for all ages, and has all the ingredients for some festive family fun.
What happened next in the Deep Dark Wood…….?!
The Gruffalo’s Child is on at the Salford Lowry this Christmas!
— Tall Stories (@TallStoriesLive) 28 September 2019
Buy tickets: https://www.quaytickets.com/Online/
Nadiya Hussain: Finding my Voice at HOME – Dec 5
I’m so excited, a first for me, feeling incredibly blessed to be able to share the book with an audience x https://t.co/YJ6q5wsDPh
— Nadiya Jamir Hussain (@BegumNadiya) 24 September 2019
Perhaps the greatest success story from the acclaimed ‘Great British Bake Off’, Hussain joins a Manchester audience to celebrate the publication of her brand-new book ‘Finding My Voice’. The 2015 winner opens up about her new celebrity life, religion and motherhood. Nadiya will follow her talk with a signing for her ‘Finding My Voice’, which is available to purchase on the night. Buy tickets: https://homemcr.org/event/in-conversation-with-nadiya-hussain/
Christmas treats (Elise Brighouse)
Manchester Christmas Markets
The award-winning Manchester Christmas Markets return to the City Centre again this year. This will be the last time until the completion of the Town Hall restoration that festivities will occur in Albert Square, with stalls selling christmas-themed creations, delicious food and plenty for those with a sweet tooth running until Dec 22 all day from 9am to 10pm. https://www.visitmanchester.com/shopping/manchester-christmas-markets-p327351
Albert Square, King Street, Exchange Square, Market Street, Cathedral Gardens, St Ann’s Square, New Cathedral Street… listen up
This year we’ve a new addition to our #MCRChristmas markets…
— Manchester City Council (@ManCityCouncil) 28 November 2019
North West England’s largest indoor Winter Wonderland is happening at Event City in Trafford City. It includes a magical circus, Christmas pantomime and even has Manchester’s largest real-ice skating rink. This event provides festive fun for the little ones, and under 3’s go free. https://www.winterfunland.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiA_f3uBRAmEiwAzPuaM02qzR8GfiuyVWkOPNSrn4C3kKkuHN0ovykN-LpJfsOMdHxhMY6QUBoCa5MQAvD_BwE#a_aid=1818
Visit the UK’s biggest ice attraction at Cathedral Gardens under an all-new clear roofed rink that allows ice skating no matter the weather. Perfect for families and friends, or couples looking to skate together under the stars, it runs until the Jan 5 and can be booked now at:
Santa’s Grotto will be at the Manchester Arndale until the Xmas Eve. Be welcomed by Wish Elves who will help you cast wishes into the snowflake wishing well before your little one can tell Santa what he wants for Christmas, all while you cram a bit of Christmas shopping at the Arndale’s 200 stores. Every child who visits Santa will receive a special christmas gift. If you’d prefer to make a day of it, there will also be a Santa’s Grotto at the Ice Village Manchester amongst events such as the Ice Cavern (an interactive ice sculpting attraction for the whole family) and a variety of daily performers hosting live ice sculptings, children’s crafting and other activities.
The Big Snowy Christmas
Designed especially for children aged 3-6 and their parents, this event at The Met on Market Street is an interactive performance about a brave baby bear who helps to save Christmas, perfect for your own little bears in the run up to Christmas, with showings from the 19th to the 24th of December. There’s even a chance to extend bedtime with a special pyjama performance on the 20th of December at 7pm, and an extra pyjama performance on the 21st! The showing on the 19th was later announced and there will be a relaxed showing at 2pm on the same day for children younger than the intended audience due to incredible demand for the show. https://themet.org.uk/event/big-snowy-christmas/
Sporting events (Sean Byrne)
For the love of darts @ BEC Arena, December 5
Arguably the top two dart players of all time face off at the BEC arena in early December for the Manchester Darts Masters. 16-time world champion Phil ‘The Powerhouse’ Taylor competes against the infamous Michael van Gerwen to reignite their fierce rivalry for the first time against each other since 2017. Three-time world champion Glenn Durrant will also be on show in what is set to be an unmissable night of action in the run up to Christmas.
Manchester City vs Manchester United @ The Etihad Stadium, December 7
Who will win the bragging rights across Manchester in this highly anticipated match up between two bitter rivals in the Premier League? Both sides are desperate to win and the atmosphere amongst football fanatics will be electric around Manchester in the run up to this. While tickets for the game may be scarce at this stage, venues across Manchester will be showcasing the match and promise to provide an intense atmosphere as the teams decide whether Manchester is blue or red for Christmas.
Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr. 2, December 7
Whilst the bout may be taking place across the globe in Saudi Arabia, Manchester could be the next place to watch this fight with hundreds of venues bringing it to you live. In what is expected to be the fight of the year following the incredible upset that happened last time these two met, venues are going to be filled with sporting fans watching eagerly to see which way it goes this time. Tickets below are for the viewing at the Shack Bar and Grill in the Northern Quarter, which will be showing both the Manchester derby and AJ v Ruiz 2.
Wythenshawe Park Santa Dash 2019, December 8
Feel like getting involved with sport instead of just watching? Look no further than the Wythenshawe Park Santa Dash, the annual event that promises to get you in the festive spirit! The ticket, at a modest price of £7 for adults and £4 for children, provides you with a Santa suit and a medal for completing the 2.5km route around the park! Suitable for all ages, the Sunday morning event is one of the best ways to enjoy some festive family fun around Manchester this Christmas.