I accidentally went to Manchester Museum's brilliant free birthday party and now have to go back

Dinosaurs, Egyptian mummies and even free cake made this a perfect family day out.
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Who doesn’t love a surprise birthday party? Now this bash wasn’t a shock per se, but it certainly added to a planned family day out in Manchester. 

As a tribe one of our main New Year’s Resolutions was to make sure there was a day devoted each month to going out together. February was my shout and the Manchester Museum had long been on our radar. After a bit of diary management, February 18 was the date circled on the calendar in the kitchen. 

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Now, here comes the surprise bit. A few days prior to loading up the car and heading into the city, I learned of the museum’s ‘Party for the People’ marking one year since reopening with all kinds of fun and games. An added bonus I thought, and so it proved. 

Stan the T-Rex is a big hit at Manchester Museum Stan the T-Rex is a big hit at Manchester Museum
Stan the T-Rex is a big hit at Manchester Museum

In addition to all the usual goodies and brilliant exhibitions on offer, there was a red carpet arrival, party games for the kids and even free cake. Well done to the staff managing the scrum for the latter. 

The museum itself is free and all this came at no extra cost. We made sure we were there not long after opening to make the most of the day and while there might have been a few frustrated punters, museum bosses will have no doubt been pleased to see people queueing to get in as morning turned to afternoon, much like the incredible numbers who turned out when it reopened 12 months ago. 

As for our visit, we tried to fit in as much as we could. My eldest really enjoyed the Golden Mummies of Egypt exhibition as he’s currently studying the topic at school but that aside, the mummies were enough to impress his little sister and his parents. Kids will love the interactive screens too that explain what exactly it is they are looking at. 

April the Tenontosaurus shows off her party hat. April the Tenontosaurus shows off her party hat.
April the Tenontosaurus shows off her party hat.
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Next we ventured to the museum’s star exhibit Stan the T-Rex. On the way there was a chance to pin the tail on April the Tenontosaurus which obviously the younger members of the party loved. April was also wearing a party hat, one of six around the museum that made up the ‘party hat trail’ that was part of the festivities. Stan drew plenty of impressed looks from our clan and then it was time for some lunch. 

As well as the museum offering, there were a few practical bits that really worked for us as a family and one of those was as we came to eat. The picnic area soon filled up at the lunchtime peak but having grabbed a table after sorting sandwiches and other bits the night before the dedicated space was perfect for our needs. 

When in need of that caffeine fix after the café prices were what you’d expect in a place where you’ve got nowhere else to go, but the staff were friendly and accommodating to someone trying to fit a very big buggy in a very small space. 

In what time remained, the kids tried out giant Jenga and Connect Four and got a chance to make their own party hat, which were duly worn for the remainder of the trip. 

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All in all it couldn’t really have gone better. The great thing when leaving was knowing there was plenty to come back for as - party or no party - there simply wasn’t enough time to explore every corner of this brilliant free attraction which was manned by helpful, enthusiastic staff and volunteers. 

A very Happy Birthday to the Manchester Museum. Even if we didn’t know it was happening.