Things to do in Manchester over the school holidays: from Sea Life to Manchester Airport Runway visitor park

There are lots of activities being put on across Greater Manchester to keep children entertained during their longest break from school of the year - here are some of them.
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The summer holidays are always a challenge for parents - with around six weeks to keep children entertained as they enjoy their longest break of the year from the classroom.

Fortunately, there is always plenty to do in Manchester and the summer break is no exception.

We’ve rounded up some of the events and activities taking place for youngsters across the city-region while school’s out for summer.

Family garden trail at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

The Manchester author’s listed Victorian house is putting on a trail to entertain families with fun facts and things to do as they make their way around the traditional gardens.

The trail will illuminate fascinating stories about the Gaskell household in Victorian times and introduce characters like Tommy the pony, while families can also enjoy a selection of traditional Victorian garden games like croquet, skittles, quoits and skipping ropes to play on the lawns.

The trail starts on Wednesday 20 July and runs throughout the summer. It is free once you have paid the entry fee to go in, Find out more about the venue here. You can also pre-book tickets for the house here.

Fairy Tales at Z-Arts

The Hulme-based arts organisation is putting on an interactive exhibition for children up to eight years old.

The adventure begins with a short story, after which families are free to discover the fairy tale town under their own steam. There they can enjoy some of the most loved traditional tales from around the world, including The Three Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk and the spider Anansi, being brought to life before their eyes.

Fairy tales are being brought to life at Z-ArtsFairy tales are being brought to life at Z-Arts
Fairy tales are being brought to life at Z-Arts

They can try their hand at construction in the Huff and Puff Builders’ Yard, rustle up a feast at Hansel & Gretel’s Oven Door café, explore the lush Enchanted Forest, enter the Cave of Wonders, cross over the Troll Bridge and visit the market to help Jack win some magic beans.

Access to the exhibition is via timed entry and costs £8 per person (£3 for babes in arms). For that you will get 50 minutes in the fairy tale town.

Fairy Tales is open Tuesday to Sunday throughout the summer with entry at 10am, 11.30am and 1pm. The last Saturday of every month is an accessible session for families with additional needs. Birthday parties are available on Saturday afternoons. Find out more or book here.

Manchester Central Library, where many of the festival’s events are taking placeManchester Central Library, where many of the festival’s events are taking place
Manchester Central Library, where many of the festival’s events are taking place

Summer Reading Challenge

For youngsters who want to spend their break from the classroom with their nose buried in a good book, Manchester City Council has unveiled its Summer Reading Challenge.

A team of Gadgeteers are ready to transport young readers, aged between four and 11, into the fascinating world of technology and get them to discover the wonders of science and innovation.

Children just have to read any six library books of their own choice or from the Gadgeteers’ collection of books and pick up a special sticker each time they finish one. When children have completed the challenge, they will receive a medal and certificat and will also be entered the grand prize draw.

For more information on how to get involved and what free events you can attend, go to Manchester City Council’s website here.

Summer Vision Fun

The summer holidays are packed with fun at the OBA Millennium Centre on Featherstall Road in Oldham as the venue is hosting a regular programme of activities.

Children aged five to 16 can enjoy activities including sports, games, arts sessions, cooking and digital sessions. They will also get to enjoy a healthy meal each day when they turn up.

The sessions last four hours and run at slightly different times depending on which day it is.

To find out more or book a place go here.

Flight Academy at Manchester Airport’s Runway Visitor Park

Manchester Airport’s Runway Visitor Park is bringing back its Flight Academy for the school summer holidays.

The 90-minute experience gives youngsters the chance to find out about the various different roles at the airport, from ground handlers to cabin crew, sit in the cockpit of a real aircraft and ‘take control’ of one on the flight deck.

The Flight Academy at Manchester Airport’s Runway Visitor Park is back for the school holidaysThe Flight Academy at Manchester Airport’s Runway Visitor Park is back for the school holidays
The Flight Academy at Manchester Airport’s Runway Visitor Park is back for the school holidays

They then head outside to the viewing deck overlooking the runway and airfield to see the planes coming and going.

Dates are available throughout July and August, with sessions for four-to-seven-year-olds running at 10.30am and ones for eight-to-12-year-olds starting at 12.30pm.

Adult and child tickets are £12. Find out more and book here.

The Great Garden Adventure at RHS Bridgewater

RHS Bridgewater is running activities throughout the summer holidays from 23 July to 4 September. Visitors can expect storytelling sessions with Zoo Lab, welly walks in the garden and visits from Wild Wings Birds of Prey.

This is a drop-in event located within the beautiful gardens so there is no extra cost. However, you will need to pre-book a time slot to enter the gardens here.

Standard admission is £11.50 for adults, £5.75 for children and free for under-fives. A family day ticket for two adults and two children is £27.50, with tickets for additional children costing £4.85.

Holiday club with forest school We Are Adventurers

Forest school We Are Adventurers has been getting children and young people out and about in nature to explore the great outdoors for almost a decade now, and it is running three holiday clubs through the summer break.

These are taking place at two schools in Chorlton and at Trafford Ecology Park and run five days a week from Monday to Friday.

The days will include tree climbing, den building, game playing and themed adventures like pirates, knights and superheroes. Children will need to bring a packed lunch and a water bottle with them for their day of woodland fun.

The club runs from 9am until 4.30pm, with early drop-off from 8am and late pick-up until 5.30pm. Each day costs £30 and the early drop-off and late pick-up costs either £5 each or £8 for both. Places can be booked for individual days or full weeks here, but they are filling up quickly.

Pirate treasure hunt at Sea Life and Legoland Discovery Centre

Youngsters heading to Sea Life and the Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester during the holiday are sure of a swashbuckling adventure with a pirate-themed treasure hunt.

At Sea Life there are activities including navigating across the ocean and helping Captain Careless solve his lost coin conundrum, all while seeking out hidden booty and learning all about the treasures of the ocean at the centre.

There are pirate-themed activities for families to enjoy at Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester this summerThere are pirate-themed activities for families to enjoy at Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester this summer
There are pirate-themed activities for families to enjoy at Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester this summer

At the Legoland Discovery Centre youngsters will meet Captain Brickbeard to enrol in the Pirate Training Academy before enjoying activities such as creating a pirate pet or flag from LEGO bricks, collecting pirate trading cards, exploring a piratical takeover of Miniland or saving the princess on the Kingdom Quest ride.

Visitors will also be able to collect Top Trump cards to reward them for completing the tasks, and anyone who gets all of them will be able to join Captain Careless’ pirate crew. Manchester visitors will also receive a pirate bandana.

The treasure hunt runs until 4 September. Book here for Sea Life and here for the Legoland Discovery Centre.

Salford’s Superhero Summer

Salford Shopping Centre is hoping to take some of the financial pressure off the cost of keeping children entertained with Salford’s Superhero Summer, a programme of free activities.

Events will run every Friday in August between 11am and 4pm.

On Friday 5 August, Spiderman himself will swing by to meet and greet fans and pose for selfies, while on Friday 12 Auust artists will offer face painting to turn young shoppers into their favourite characters.

On Friday 19 August, there will be a craft workshop helping little ones create their own capes before Batman drops in on Friday 26 August to meet his fans and pose for pictures, with eagle-eyed youngsters also being told to keep their eyes peeled for a sight of the Batmobile.

Free craft workshops at The Corn Exchange

The well-known Manchester food and drink destination near Victoria is celebrating seven years in business and it is marking the anniversary by putting on free craft workshops during the school holidays.

Each Wednesday in August, kicking off on 3 August, there are five 30-minute craft sessions running from 11 am to 4pm where kids will learn about the food, the national flags and national anthems of different countries each week.

All participants will receive their own special passport and get a stamp from the country of their workshop, encouraging them to come back and travel round the rest of the world with the Corn Exchange over the summer. They will also get a free recipe to take home to try and recreate the country’s delicacies at home.

The five weeks will include tastes of Italy, Germany, Greece, India and Great Britain.