Things to do in Manchester this weekend (16-18 December) – from new Lowry Theatre show to free Christmas event

The cold weather should not stop you from having fun this weekend – here are some of the events to look out for in Greater Manchester.

With schools breaking up for Christmas holidays, it means this is the weekend when the festive fun can really start. And for those of you not quite ready to dust off the Santa hat and Christmas jumper, there are still loads of non-festive events to keep you entertained, including a food festival and a critically acclaimed theatre production coming to Manchester this week.

Here are some of the exciting events happening in Manchester this weekend.

Street Eat

The Butts, Rochdale

On Saturday 17 December the Street Eat food festival returns to Rochdale town centre. Local food and drink vendors specialising in a variety of different cuisines will be selling small plates for visitors to sample, all costing £5 or less. It’s a family-friendly event, with plenty of activities and rides for the little ones, as well as a visit from Santa. There will also be mulled wine and live entertainment. More information can be found on the Rochdale council website.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Lowry Theatre

It’s the opening week of the National Theatre’s production of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, adapted from a novel by renowned fantasy author Neil Gaiman. The play, which has already had rave reviews from the critics, is an adventure story about a man, who is transported back to his childhood and magical world where he must fight for survival. It’s on at The Lowry Theatre until 8 January, but don’t let this one pass you by. Tickets start at £17 and can be found on the theatre’s website.

A stage adaptation of renowned fantasy author Neil Gaiman’s novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane opens at the Lowry Theatre this weekend. Credit: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Christmas Story and Donkey Day

The Monastery, Gorton

There is a free community event at The Monastery on Sunday 18 December, featuring music, festive activities and real donkeys. A choir will be performing carols at 1pm and Rev Fay Barrett will be leading a reading of the Christmas story at 2pm. The Monastery is a beautiful Grade II listed building that was once home to a Franciscan Order of monks.

Santa Special

East Lancashire Railway

Santa will be pulling into Bury Bolton Street Station this weekend, inviting guests on a special festive trip complete with a magical talking Christmas tree and a sing along with a chorus of singing polar bears. On the 80-minute trip, children will get to meet Santa, as well as a bunch of other festive characters. There will also be mince pies and a festive tipple for the adults. The Santa Specials will run this weekend, 21-24 December. Tickets are £32 for both adults and children, or £46 for one adult plus a child under three years old. Prices for the Christmas Eve sessions are slightly more expensive. More information can be found on the ELR website.

East Lancashire Railway Santa Special 2022.

Born To Be Wild Child Festive Family Party!

YES, Saturday 17 December, 12:30-3pm

The pink room and basement room of YES are being taken over by Born To Be Wild Child, who are hosting one of their family-friendly rock’n’roll parties. There will be plenty of activities for the kids in the pink room – aside from dancing – including a balloon drop, a giant parachute, a huge Christmas colouring mural, face painting, and temporary tattoos. For the littlest ones, there will be sensory play and story time in the basement room. Santa himself will also be making an appearance. Tickets are £8.25 and can be purchased via Skiddle.