What’s on in Manchester: December 2012

By Phil Jones

Your definitive guide to what’s on in and around Manchester this December.

December 1 to 23

Christmas Markets

The award winning markets are a perfect way to embrace the festive season and pick up unique presents for friends and family.

The traditional wooden chalets offer a variety of food and drink, from bratwurst and mulled wine to tankards of German beer and truckles of cheese.

Coupled with authentic stalls, selling a range of goods from producers around Europe including jewellery, hand crafted ornaments and even bonsai trees, this is a great outing for the whole family.

For more information:


December 1 to 24

Mancheseter Arndale Santa’s Grotto, £4.50

Have you been naughty or nice this year? Well that’s up to Santa to decide, but if you go down to the Arndale Centre this Christmas you’re sure to get a gift.

Situated in the heart of Manchester’s city centre, a visit to the Grotto add’s a little festive cheer to any child’s, big or small, Christmas celebrations.

Tickets available here:


December 1 to 24

Manchester Arndale Advent Calendar

The start of December means the countdown to Christmas is well and truly on, and Manchester Arndale are offering a prize each day until Christmas Eve.

Prizes include toys, theatre visits and a group trip to Nandos, and with each day bringing a new prize the 24 giveaways worth over £4000 in total.

To give yourself a chance of winning:


December 1 to January 5, 2013

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, The Lowry, Salford, £24-45

White Christmas returns to the Lowry following a critically-acclaimed sell-out run in 2009.

Coronation Street and London’s Burning actor Steven Houghton will lead the star-studded cast.

Also bringing Bing Crosby’s 1954 classic film to life on stage will be Dallas star Ken Kercheval, Claire Sweeney and Wendi Peters.

Tickets available here:


December 1 to January January 6, 2013

Spinningfields Ice Rink, £5-8.50

Whether you are a novice rail-holder or a triple salko-ing, pirouette-ing pro, all skaters are welcome to join in the fun on the Spinningfields ice rink.

Returning for a fifth year, the rink helps Spinningfields transform into a winter wonderland for seven weeks each festive season.

Tickets available here:


December 1 to January 12, 2013

Arabian Nights, The Lowry, Salford, £8-20

Dominic Cooke’s adaptation of world-famous folk tales charts the story of Shahrazad, who just loved to read stories.

Shahrazad brings to life the stories of One Thousand and One Nights as she attempts to rid her town of the dark demons that haunt it.

Arabian Nights is a treat for both children and adults that captures the imagination and tickles the funny bone with tales of singing trees, flying men and wise talking birds.


December 1 to January 27, 2013

The First Cut, Manchester Art Gallery, Free

An exhibition displaying the versatility and beauty of a humble sheet of paper.

A collection of 31 International artists cut, sculpt and manipulate paper – transforming it into remarkable works of art.

A forest of paper trees, flocks of birds and butterflies cut from maps, giant sculptures and guns and grenades will leave you seeing paper in a whole new light.

For more information:


December 1 to April 20, 2013

The Lion King, Palace Theatre, £20-75

The worldwide super-hit stage show comes to Manchester for an extended run at the Palace Theatre.

Seen by over 65 million people across the globe and still going strong after 13 years at London’s Lyceum Theatre, the stage show lovingly adapts the classic Disney tale.

Bursting with colour and vibrancy, the story of Simba’s journey through life is told to the tribal rhythms of Africa in a feast for all the senses.

Tickets available here:


December 3

Christmas with Steps, Manchester Apollo, £35-45

Fans of kitsch, cheesy 90s pop music rejoice as Steps return to Manchester for an intimate evening of Christmas songs and classic hits.

Following the recent release of the Light Up The World album – their first new material in over ten years – the five piece will no doubt have fans dancing along to hits such a Tragedy and 5, 6, 7, 8.

Never a group to garner much critical acclaim, Steps are now fondly regarded as a ‘guilty pleasure’ and still draw in the crowds, as ‘The Ultimate Tour’ earlier in 2012 proved.

Tickets available here:


December 4

XFM’s Winter Wonderland, Manchester Apollo, £25

Radio station XFMs annual Christmas music extravaganza returns to the O2 Apollo.

Top of the bill are Bloc Party and Maximo Park, both fresh from playing Manchester recently to promote their albums, The National Health and Four respectively.

Also on the bill are Everything Everything, Delphic, Spector and Findlay.

Tickets available here:


December 5

Key 103 Jingle Ball Live, Manchester Arena, £25-60

The Jingle Ball returns to Manchester arena with a stellar line-up including McFly, Tulisa, JLS and Leona Lewis.

Also on the bill are 2011 X Factor winners Little Mix, Stooshe, Flo Rida, Labrinth and four-piece pop rock outfit Lawson.

Playing all the hits you’ve heard on Key 103 throughout 2012, there is no better way to get in the seasonal mood than with the stars of the year.

Tickets available here:


December 6

Gary Barlow, Manchester Apollo, £35-55

Manchester’s own boy band superstar comes home as part of the solo tour, his first solo shows in over a year.

The singer, songwriter, X-Factor judge, charity concert organiser and heartthrob is a busy man but can’t wait to get back on stage.

“Playing live is my favourite thing. Last year playing two London shows was brilliant, we all had such a good time, so I thought right let’s get out and see the rest of the country,” he told his website.

Tickets available here:


December 6 to 9

Victorian Christmas Market, Salford Quays Lowry Outlet

Selling fine food and drink, hand-made gifts and featuring a traditional carousel, the market will add a twinkle to any Christmas visit.

Over 50 authentic larger-than-life characters in Dickensian costume will animate the market, along with street entertainers providing entertainment for the whole family.

As part of the Victorian Market Experience, the car park owners have decided to offer free parking for the duration of the market.

For further information:


December 6 to 9

Pinocchio, Salford Arts Theatre, £5.50-7

A pantomime for all the family put on by the Barton Theatre Company.

Joan Breen brings a modern interpretation to the old tale of Geppetto and his wooden puppet friend Pinocchio.

Tickets available here:


December 8

Sigur Ros – Valtari Film Experiment Programme, Miner’s Community Arts and Music Centre, Moston, £6

The only North West showing of films selected by the Icelandic post-rockers to accompany their sixth album Valtari.

The band gave a dozen directors from across the globe the same budget to produce a video of whatever they were inspired to do when listening to the album.

Also featuring contributions from fans, the videos will be played in over 100 venues across the seven continents (yes even Antarctica) over the weekend of December 8-9.

Tickets available here:


December 8

Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds: The New Generation – Alive On Stage!, Manchester Arena, £42.50-62.50

The stunning show returns to Manchester Arena with a star-studded cast, including Wet Wet Wet frontman Marti Pellow, and Jason Donovan.

Also appearing on stage will be Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs, and taking over Richard Burton’s narration duties will be Liam Neeson, lending his distinctive voice to the role of The Journalist.

Included in the jaw-dropping stage show will be the iconic three tonne, 35 ft tall martian fighting machine which fires real flame heat rays at the audience.

Tickets available here:


December 8 to January 13, 2013

Peter Pan, Manchester Opera House, £10-39.50

David Hasselhoff, he of Baywatch and Britain’s Got Talent fame, plays captain Hook in the swashbuckling family pantomime.

Emmerdale and Coronation Street star Tam Ryan also takes to the stage as Smee, while Amy Bird reprises her role as the boy who never grew up.

Hasselhoff said in advance of the show: “Get ready Manchester! The Hoff is coming for Christmas with his friend Peter Pan. I’ve been to Manchester before and fell in love with the city.”

Tickets available here:


December 10

Mumford and Sons, Manchester Arena, £29.50

The folk-rock foursome have taken the music scene by storm in the past three years since emerging from the London folk scene that spawned Laura Marling and Noah and The Whale.

First album Sigh No More, reached number two in the charts after it won album of the year at the 2011 Brit awards, and second album Babel topped the charts upon release in September.

The tour in support of Babel, covers the UK before ending at London’s O2 Arena a week before Christmas.

Tickets available here:


December 13 to 24

Dick Whittington, Salford Arts theatre, £6-7

A Salford Theatre Company production, the traditional pantomime favourite will have you rolling in the aisles no matter what your age.

The story tells the tale of Dick and his trusty cat Tommy as they go in search of fame and fortune, but will the evil rat king put pay to their plans?

Tickets available here:


December 16

Stereophonics, Manchester Academy 1, £32.50

The Welsh rockers have been going for 20 years and are still releasing new material.

New single In A Moment was released in November but no date has yet been set for a new album.

December’s nationwide tour is sure to include hits spanning their whole career mixed in with new material in anticipation of its release.

Tickets available here:


December 17

Ellie Goulding, Manchester Academy 1, £22.50, age 14+

The 25-year-old released her second album, Halcyon, in October, and plays Manchester as the penultimate night on her UK tour to promote it.

After shooting to prominence as winner of the BBC Sound of 2010 poll, Goulding also won the Critics’ Choice award at the Brits in the same year.

Breakthrough track Starry Eyed reached number four in the charts and she now has two number one albums under her belt.

Tickets are available here:


December 27 to January 5, 2013

Knick Knack and Doo Dad, The Lowry, Salford, £6-10

CBeebies star Patrick Lynch plays Doo Dad to Italian children’s television presenter Carlo Rossi’s Knick Knack, in this fun post-Christmas adventure.

Set on an island of rubbish, the pair master the art of slapstick comedy to have children of all ages in hysterics from start to finish.

The story follows the pair’s quest to celebrate Christmas with no shops and no money to speak of.

Tickets available here:

Pictures courtesy of Peppermint PR, with thanks

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