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Things to do in Manchester on May Bank Holiday weekend: what’s on from 30 April-2 May 2022

It’s only a couple of weeks since the Easter holidays but it’s time for another three-day break: here are some fun things for all the family from a circus to steam trains.

Mancunians can look forward to a long weekend as the spring bank holiday comes around.

The May Bank Holiday this year falls on Monday 2 May, with the one traditionally at the end of the month instead happening in early June to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

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Across Manchester and the wider city-region there are a number of things to do, from exciting cultural and music events to family-friendly activities to celebrations of local history and heritage.

Here’s our guide to how to spend the May Bank Holiday 2022 in Greater Manchester.

Sounds From The Other City cultural festival returns

The festival Sounds From The Other City is back with a spectacular programme of events taking place across Salford.

More than 130 artists are taking part across 19 stages and there are also nine roving arts events for eagle-eyed culture vultures to spot.

The festival is taking place at some of Salford’s best-loved live music venues, including the Seven Bro7hers Beerhouse, fivefourstudios, Hot Bed Press, the Old Pint Pot and The New Oxford.

The line-up includes female DJ collective Queen Latifah, Manchester neo-soul act Lovescene and Salford-formed psychedelic noise collective GNOD as well as art installation and late-night afterparties.

The event is on Bank Holiday Monday from 2pm until 4am on Tuesday and tickets are available on Skiddle.

Watch old steam engines get fired up in Bolton

Anyone fancying taking a trip into the past can enjoy special Bank Holiday steamings at Bolton Steam Museum.

Volunteers from the Northern Mill Engine Society have rescued and restored 30 old stationary steam engines which once powered the mills and other industrial sites across the north of England.

And the engines, some of which are as much as 180 years old, will be coaxed back into life on Sunday 1 May and Monday 2 May from 10am until 4pm.

Entry to the museum on Mornington Road, located off Chorley Old Road, is free, although donations are much appreciated.

Trafford Centre spring escape

Family funfair fun at the Trafford Centre

Take a break from shopping and enjoy some fun rides at the Trafford Centre this weekend.

Starting on Friday 29 April and running every weekend til 22 May, their Spring Escape event features tea cups, bumper cars, a log flume, a fun house, bungee trampolines and more, with pop-up food and drink stalls.

It opens on Fridays 4pm – 9pm, then Saturday and Sunday 12pm – 9pm and will return for May half-term too.

Entry is £2.80 with additional charges for tokens for rides and can be pre-booked here.

Drayton Manor is home to Thomas the Tank Engine and Thomas Land.

Enjoy a day out with Thomas The Tank Engine at the East Lancashire Railway

Children’s TV’s most beloved steam engine will take centre stage at the East Lancashire Railway on the Bank Holiday weekend.

The popular attraction is getting ready to welcome youngsters to its Bury station for a magical Thomas The Tank Engine themed day.

Children and their parents will get to meet Sir Topham Hatt at the station, say hello to Thomas on the platform and then climb aboard a carriage to be pulled by the famous bright blue engine to Ramsbottom.

When they get back to Bury there will then be lots of further themed activities to enjoy at Bury Transport Museum.

Tickets need to be booked in advance through Quaytickets.

Bury Pride

Bury holds its annual Pride celebration and everyone is invited to join in the fun this Saturday 30 April.

Taking place at the Castle Armoury Drill Hall, this year’s celebration of LGBTQ+ culture promises to be bigger and better than ever.

There will be live entertainment from 10am, with tributes to Arianna Grande, Beyonce and Taylor Swift among the musical highlights.

The parade will set off at 1pm and take a route through the Rock, past the Millgate, into Bury Market, past the Art Gallery and then up Silver Street to return to the Drill Hall.

The event is free and family-friendly but you need to pre-book your tickets at Eventbrite.

Roll up for all the fun of the circus

The Circus Funtasia is arriving in Greater Manchester for the bank holiday weekend and is promising anyone who ventures down to the big top a spectacular show.

Burrs Country Park in Bury will play host to astonishing acts including fire-breathers, aerialists, motorcyclists on the Wall of Death and comedians.

The show runs throughout the Bank Holiday weekend and tickets are available from £8 online here.

Remember Belle Vue at a free family fun day

The Monastery in Gorton is putting on a nostalgic free family fun day to celebrate Manchester’s iconic Belle Vue.

The event will bring back many memories of the venue that was described as the showground of the world with attractions including a zoological garden, circus, fair, speedway, dancing, boxing, wrestling, fireworks, music, and dancing for over 150 years.

1955: A fairground booth in Manchester's Belle Vue advertises the 'amazing' phenomenon of the Girl in the Bottle. (Photo by Peter Purdy/BIPs/Getty Images)

There will be exhibitions, pictures, talks, archive film footage, painting displays, book stalls and music performed by local choirs as well as face painting and activity sheets for children.

Volunteers from the Museum of Transport will also have two of the old red double-decker buses that used to run to Belle Vue at The Monastery for people to climb on board and have a look around.

The event is on Sunday 1 May from 11am until 3pm.

Hit the high notes at a free music festival

Spinningfields bar The Oast House is bringing its Manifest music festival back for the bank holiday with a packed line-up punters can enjoy for free.

Bands, solo artists and duos will all take to the stage located on the venue’s outdoor terrace throughout the day with interludes from resident DJs.

Music lovers will be let in on a first-come, first-served basis and The Oast House is warning that the Easter launch event saw queues forming to get in so you should get there in plenty of time to be sure of securing a spot.

The event is on Sunday 1 May from 1pm until 10pm.

Enjoy an evening high above the city with a DJ spinning the decks

Manchester venue 20 Stories is kicking off the celebrations with an evening of its resident DJ spinning the decks.

The music will be played on the spring terrace The Manchester Meadow, which gives breathtaking 360 degree views of the city’s skyline, on Sunday 1 May between 6pm and 11pm.

The event is in partnership with Manchester Gin and visitors will be able to enjoy a selection of specially-curated cocktails while they listen to the tunes along with the usual bar and terrace food menu.

Tickets can be booked via the 20 Stories website.