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A free Gruffalo and Julia Donaldson exhibition is coming to Greater Manchester

Right in time for the school holidays!

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Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

A free Gruffalo exhibition is coming to Greater Manchester this summer.

The new attraction will open at The Lowry arts centre, Salford, right in time for the school holidays in July — and will run for the rest of the year.

It will celebrate the popular children’s books including the Gruffalo, Zog, Stick Man and Room on the Broom created by author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler.

Visitors will get the chance to have a peek into the original workings of their award-winning partnership — which has spawned some of the best-loved characters in fiction.

Copyright © Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler 2023

Entitled Julia and Axel – Thirty Years of Favourite Stories, the creative showcase will feature a special ‘storybook room’, snippets from the animated versions of the likes of The Gruffalo, Zog and Snail and the Whale — as well as an exploration of how Julia and Axel have worked together to create their iconic works.

From Saturday July 22nd, this free family-friendly exhibition will feature several of Julia Donaldson’s personal writing notebooks; containing the very first ideas and creative thinking behind her picture book stories. 

These will be shown alongside Axel Scheffler’s artwork, showing the process of his illustrations from sketches and works in progress, to full page final illustrations that readers are familiar with seeing in the finished books.

Magic Light animated films

Throughout the exhibition there will be lots of fun opportunities for children to be creative as they are guided to write their own stories, draw pictures, dress up, and play fun games inspired by the books.

Julia Donaldson says: “I am delighted that we are working in partnership with The Lowry on this exhibition and that they are celebrating 30 years of Axel and me working together.

“It is exciting to be able to share some ‘behind the scenes’ secrets with our young readers and to show what happens before a finished book is in their hands.

Christoph Rieger / Wikimedia

“I hope that it will help them to feel creative and to start writing and illustrating their own stories, so that we have new picture-book creators in the future.”

Axel Scheffler says: “I find it hard to believe that it is 30 years since Julia Donaldson and I did our first picture book together with A Squash and a Squeeze. So much has happened since then and many children have now enjoyed our stories over the years.

“I am very pleased that The Lowry is hosting this special celebratory exhibition and that it will give families the chance to discover more about my illustrations and Julia’s writing.”

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Michael Simpson, Director of Visual Arts at The Lowry, says: “This is a unique celebration of the creative partnership of Julia and Axel, whose stories and pictures are loved by children and grown-ups alike.

“We want every family to think of The Lowry as the place to go for a great day out.”

Julia and Axel – Thirty Years of Favourite Stories will be on at The Lowry from Saturday July 22nd 2023 to Monday January 1st 2024.

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New makers market with everything from dog accessories to house plants and jewellery coming to Manchester

Get this one in your diary!

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A brand new makers market is coming to Manchester this late May Bank Holiday weekend, with something for everyone.

Taking place at New Jackson – a new urban neighbourhood located at the southern gateway to the city – Manchester Made Market will be held on Saturday May 25th and Sunday May 26th.

Over the two days you’ll be able to browse a selection of local artisanal traders and small businesses from across the region.

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There’ll be everything, from food produce, homewares, crafts and creations to dog accessories, house plants, jewellery and homemade soap.

Among the traders will be Manchester and Cheshire-based florist and floral artists Dot & Flora, graphic artist Ablott MCR selling music prints, HGT with crochet fashion and homeware designs, and artisan candlemakers Leaves and Prickles.

Elsewhere, there will be essential oils and other treatments from Grounded Wellness, permanent jewellery from Sealed Links, and desserts from Cake With Heart.

Supplied


There will be plenty of street food options to keep you topped up while you shop, including The Wild Grill, Food Sorcery, Salvi’s and new favourite Medlock Canteen.


Neighbourhood Brew will be supplying some great drinks as well.

Supported by Renaker, the market is free, but you can upgrade your experience with a limited, free VIP ticket with access to the dedicated bar area.

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Manchester Flower Festival returns with tributes to Sarah Harding and Caroline Aherne

It’s taking place later this month!

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The Vain Photography / Manchester Flower Festival

The legendary Manchester Flower Festival is returning to our city later this month, complete with pop-ups, installations and tributes to some local icons.

Taking place over the late May Bank Holiday, the event will be headlined by its ‘Floral Trail’.

This year’s theme is Manchester Icons, with a host of names past and present being honoured in flower form, including the late comedy legend Caroline Aherne, pop star Sarah Harding and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

The Vain Photography / Manchester Flower Festival

Collaborating with Manchester illustrator Stanley Chow, floral designer Liv Woodward will create a portrait of Caroline Aherne at the Floral Marquee on New Cathedral Street, using sustainably sourced plants and flowers.

Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding will be remembered in a ‘tribute garden’, sponsored by the AO Arena, with visitors able to donate to the Sarah Harding Breast Cancer Appeal by scanning the QR code at the display.

The homage to Pankhurst has been created by female-led Decordia, featuring an ornate wooden Manchester Town Hall-inspired planter with sashes, posters and colourful icons, alongside a wicker figure of the suffragette herself.

This can be found at the corner of Cross Street and King Street, adorned with purple, green and white plants – the colours of the suffragette movement.

The Vain Photography / Manchester Flower Festival

Other local legends will also be honoured with their own installations, including Happy Mondays vocalist Rowetta and iconic Manchester brewery Boddingtons .

Fringe events will be taking place too, at locations including Northern Quarter art shop Fred Aldous, The Bridgewater Hall, the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel and the National Trust’s Castlefield Viaduct.

Selfridges Exchange Square, El Gato Negro, Tast Catala, Franco Manca, Grand Pacific Manchester and Urban Playground will also be taking part, with alfresco dining, festival-related dishes and cocktails.

The Vain Photography / Manchester Flower Festival

Now in its seventh year, the Flower Festival, which is put together by Manchester City Centre Business Improvement District, attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year, with live entertainment, workshops, and arts and crafts markets.

It all happens from May 24th to May 27th – head over to the website HERE to find more information.

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Billie Eilish announces FOUR Manchester shows as part of world tour

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Billie Eilish / Instagram & Co-op Live

Pop star Billie Eilish is coming to Manchester, with four dates confirmed at the new Co-op Live arena.

The Grammy and Oscar-winning pop icon will be playing Manchester’s newest arena on July 19th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd, 2025.

The dates are part of a full world tour taking place next year, in the wake of Hit Me Hard And Soft, her fourth studio album which is due out on May 17th.

The full UK dates:

  • 7 July 2025 – OVO Hydro, Glasgow
  • 8 July 2025 – OVO Hydro, Glasgow
  • 10 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 11 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 13 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 14 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 16 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 17 July 2025 – The O2, London
  • 19 July 2025 – Co-op Live, Manchester
  • 20 July 2025 – Co-op Live, Manchester
  • 22 July 2025 – Co-op Live, Manchester
  • 23 July 2025 – Co-op Live, Manchester


Presale tickets go live tomorrow, Tuesday April 30th, at 12pm and are exclusive for Co-op members only.

To become a Co-op member, click HERE, and enjoy exclusive benefits.

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