Christmas 2022 in Manchester: six Festive Sundays of street performances in the city centre unveiled

Roaming puppets, giant penguins and live bands are just some of the festive sights residents can look forward to seeing in the run-up to Christmas.

Manchester will be getting into the Christmas spirit in the run-up to the festive season with street performances at weekends including roaming puppets, super-sized penguins and live bands.

Manchester City Council and Manchester BID (Business Improvement District) have announced Festive Sundays, a programme of live events taking place in the city centre as the countdown to 25 December gets going.

It is hoped that the performers will help to create a fun and festive atmosphere for the people doing their Christmas shopping, visiting Manchester’s bars and restaurants or enjoying the city’s famous Christmas markets.

What are the Festive Sundays and when are they?

Commissioned and produced by the Manchester Business Improvement District on behalf of the city centre’s leading retailers and hospitality venues, and in partnership with the council, Festive Sundays will run every Sunday from 13 November to 18 December.

The first two Sundays (13 and 20 November) will see an array of themed roaming performances around the central retail district. Visitors can expect to see a huge snow globe, living lampposts, snow fox stilt walkers, penguins, Crumpet the elf and more at locations including the Manchester Arndale, Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, Exchange Street, St Ann’s Square, King Street and Deansgate,

There will be music from Fat Cat Brass and Spark!, a group combining LED lighting with beautiful costumes, choreography and drumming. These will take place on Sunday 13 November from 1pm to 7pm and Sunday 20 November from 12pm to 7pm.

The middle two Sundays (27 November and 4 December) will have activities for families in the early evening between 4pm and 7pm. There will be performances from Ghost Caribou, a night-time street act with giant creatures which are part-caribou and part-human who tell their story through music, song, and shadow. The light-up band Spark! will also be back in the middle of Manchester. This will take place in St Ann’s Square and Deansgate.

The final two Sundays (11 December and 18 December) will ramp up the festivity with Christmas crackers, sugar plum fairies, toy soldiers and a fairy mouse taking to the city’s streets. The organisers are also promising an extra festive treat on Sunday 11 December but details of this are being kept under wraps for now.

Activities on the last two Festive Sundays will be at the Manchester Arndale and on Market Street. They will take place at 1pm, 3pm and 4pm on 11 December and noon, 2pm and 4pm on 18 December.

More information is available at the Visit Manchester website.

What has been said about Festive Sundays?

Jane Sharrocks, Manchester BID chair and general manager of the Selfridges store at Exchange Square, said: “Our festive roaming performers were a such huge hit with visitors last year, that we’re delighted to be able to build on this for 2022, with six consecutive Sundays of enchanting events.

“By working collaboratively with Manchester City Council and the Christmas Markets, Manchester BID’s Festive Sundays will enhance the visitor experience to the city centre this Christmas, particularly for families, who can enjoy everything the city centre has to offer on what is traditionally a quieter day.”

Coun Pat Karney, Christmas spokesperson for Manchester City Council, said: “Christmas in Manchester is going to be magical this year with the city’s streets and squares stuffed full of free entertainment and things to see and do to get everyone in the Christmas spirit.

“We’ve also got an extra special seasonal surprise that we’re keeping under our Christmas hats at the moment but that promises to be a spectacular festive first for Manchester. Watch this space – it’s going to be a cracker!”