In its first Christmas in four years, Manchester’s historic Contact Theatre will be hosting a one-of-a-kind rendition of Dick Whittington and His Amazing Cat.
After reopening its doors back in September following a huge £6m building transformation, the iconic Contact Theatre boasts a whole host of exciting new facilities, such as new and improved performance spaces, a purpose-built recording studio for young people’s music projects, new offices for artists and cultural organisations to hire, a new and improved public bar and free work and social spaces.
And, of course, the historic theatre has reopened with a whole host of exciting and contemporary performances on the bill, including the festive Panto residency, Eight-Freestyle’s take on the classic Dick Whittington and his Amazing Cat.
This upbeat and modern production of the classic rags-to-riches story tells the tale of young Dick Whittington and his loyal cat Scratch on their exciting quest for fame, fortune, and gold-lined London streets that simply do not exist (sorry, Dick).
Can Dick defeat evil King Rat and his rat hordes? Can he win the love of the beautiful Alice Fitzwarren? Can he survive shipwrecks, magic, pirates, ghosts, sharks and Freda the Cook’s terrible pies? These will be just a few of the many adventures experienced throughout this dynamic take on the traditional pantomime.
The show comes courtesy of local production company Eight-Freestyle, and prides itself on being the city’s ‘proper local panto’ with no ‘wooden reality-TV stars’.
Showings of Contact Theatre’s Dick Whittington and his Amazing Cat will begin this Saturday, December 11th, and will run all the way through the festive period until Monday, January 3rd.
There will be a British Sign Language (BSL) performance on Wednesday December 29th at 12pm by interpreter Kate Labno as well as a socially distanced performance on Wednesday December 22nd at 7pm.
For tickets and more information, head over to the Contact Theatre website.
Manchester’s first ever Christmas Parade is coming to town next month
Make sure you don’t miss this!
A festive first for Manchester is happening this year, with the announcement that our city is holding its first ever Christmas Parade.
The magical parade will be filled with all things Christmas, and will weave its way through the streets of the city centre to bring some extra special Christmas cheer.
Building on the success of the city’s world-famous Manchester Day Parade – which after starting small back in 2010 now regularly sees thousands of people flock to the city to watch it – the inaugural Manchester Christmas Parade will take place on Sunday December 11th.
Working in partnership with Manchester Business Improvement District and outdoor art experts, including Walk the Plank, Global Grooves, Handmade Parade and others, the city’s first-ever Christmas Parade promises to delight young and old.
With well over 100 parade participants, spectators will see everything from Jacks of Frost and Fairy stilt-walkers, an Arctic Fox, and runaway Christmas Presents, to Cocky Robins, Glowing Gastropods with elf riders, and a never-before-seen Christmas Toy Procession.
Also making a special appearance in the parade will be the Town Hall Clock, wound up and looking its very festive best.
Councillor Pat Karney, Christmas spokesperson for Manchester City Council, said: “Nowhere else does a parade quite like Manchester and and we can’t wait to bring the first-ever, not-to-be-missed Manchester Christmas Parade to Santa’s favourite city.
“Of all the places in the world that Santa could have chosen for this magical festive first, Manchester is the obvious choice.
“It’s going to be fabulous and we can’t wait!”
Jane Sharrocks, Manchester BID Chair and General Manager at Selfridges Exchange Square added: “We’re delighted to be involved in what will be Manchester’s first official Christmas Parade!
“As well as being a huge draw for families, it’s also a fantastic headline event for our programme of Festive Sundays which will see sparkling street performers including illuminated bands, roaming puppets, stilt-walkers, supersized penguins and more, take to the city’s main shopping streets for six consecutive Sundays during November and December.”
Starting at 1pm on Sunday December 11th, the Manchester Christmas Parade will head down Deansgate, St Ann’s Street, Cross Street and St Mary’s Gate.
Full details of this year’s Manchester Christmas Markets as they get into full swing
The markets are billed as ‘bigger and better’ than ever before…
With the Manchester Christmas Markets now in full swing, let’s take a look at the full list of traders and locations for this year’s festivities.
The Christmas Markets opened on November 10th, transforming Piccadilly Gardens into the Winter Gardens, with over 220 stalls open at the usual locations of Market Street, Cathedral Gardens, Exchange Street, New Cathedral Street, St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, The Corn Exchange, and King Street.
The council also confirmed the return of the magical Manchester Christmas lights trail, which will illuminate the city centre throughout the festive season with its walk-through giant baubles, light arches and a Manchester bee.
And the iconic Big Santa has made a return to the Central Library at St. Peter’s Square, where he will be keeping an eye on all things Christmas in Manchester from his perch.
Here’s the full rundown of what to expect at this year’s Christmas Markets:
Piccadilly Gardens is once again transformed into the Winter Gardens, which the council has promised is ‘bigger and better’ than ever before.
On the food and drink side of things, the Winter Gardens is serving up the likes of pancakes, churros, cookie dough, vegan bratwursts, Korean hotdogs, pork barms, and Amsterdam Frites. There’s also be an array of winter tipples and a selection of continental and foreign ales.
There will also be dedicated weekly trial spots for new local traders as they step into winter trading and try out their wares on the Christmas Market crowds.
And brand new for this year, the Winter Gardens is hosting a giant Nordic-themed double tipi bar, fully heated, and festooned with ambient lighting, wooden benches, fake furs, and a roaring fire pit.
There will be live music and entertainment within the tipi bar most nights, making it the perfect spot to spread some Christmas cheer throughout the whole week.
St. Ann’s Square and Exchange Street
St. Ann’s Square – which is actually the original site for Manchester’s Christmas Markets – is returning with its large undercover bar providing German beers and warm cherry Gluhwein, all of which will keep Christmas revellers warm and merry throughout the winter season.
St. Ann’s Square and Exchange Street is also host to a number of local traders, including Yard and Coop with their salt and pepper chicken fries and Manc and Proud, who are serving up Mancunian themed treats, plus continental chocolates, English cheeses, and art emporiums.
A firm favourite with Christmas shoppers, Market Street is home to stalls selling a wide range of gifts from a whole host of amazing crafters and producers. Customers can get everything from tweed hats, spiced rum and Christmas decorations, to candles, jewellery, and gift sets of cheese truckles.
Home to some of the best food in Manchester, the Christmas deli stalls on King Street take foodies on a world tour of some of the best loved dishes on the planet, ranging from Italian cannelloni and arancini, Greek gyros, halloumi fries, French garlic mushrooms and even Salford Rum.
And new for 2022, middle eastern restaurant Habas is bringing its Middle Eastern menu and seating area to King Street – great for those wanting to eat their way round the world!
New Cathedral Street
New Cathedral Street boasts a range of stalls selling high-end gifts including fine-cast ornaments, old fashioned liquorice, handmade cocktails for home, and light up Christmas decorations.
There’s also a number of tasty food stalls offering everything ranging from vegan five bean chilli to New York Bagels. These can then be washed down by one of cosmopolitan Bar 3’s famous smoking cocktails.
Additionally, the famous Witch House is making its grand return to New Cathedral Street armed with its traditional steins and mouth-watering currywursts.
Market-goers will be able to warm up at the beloved Mill Exchange bar, who are bringing back their special Mancunian mulled wine.
2022 also sees the return of the famous Porky Pig’s Yorkshire Pudding Wrap, alongside stalls selling hot curries, German kebabs, gourmet Italian pizza mini pancakes and fresh fudge.
The Corn Exchange
Nestled between Manchester’s historic Corn Exchange building and Shambles Square, visitors can expect to find unique fairtrade hats and jackets, character themed hats and belts, as well as handmade pies, cupcakes and soaps.
The much-loved undercover ice rink Skate MCR opened in time for the half term and Halloween. There is live entertainment on from Thursday to Sunday each week, all the way through to New Year’s Eve.
Next to the ice rink, hot food, warm drinks, pancakes and tipples are on offer from nearby market stalls to help warm up cold hands and feet after a skate on the ice.
Councillor Pat Karney, lead councillor for Christmas at Manchester City Council, said: “Christmas is looking better than ever this year in Manchester with our world-beating Christmas markets set to open in four weeks’ time, and a whole host of other unmissable free festive treats also coming our way.
“Everyone knows that Manchester does Christmas better than anywhere else and I’ve been counting down the days to the opening of our Christmas markets again since the day they closed last year.
“We’ve got some fantastic new festive additions to the markets this year, as well as some other soon-to-be announced unmissable festive surprises which are set to get everyone in Manchester smiling in the run-up to Christmas. More announcements on this very soon – I can’t wait!”
The Christmas Markets are now open and will close on Thursday December 22nd.
A huge party with £2 drinks and FREE cheese boards is happening on Friday
Get this in your diaries!
If you love cheap drinks AND cheese then we’ve got some very good news for you on this grey, dreary Monday.
Alvarium, Tib Street’s hidden gem and home to some of Manchester’s best food offerings, has announced a huge party with cheap drinks, FREE food and DJs all night long.
It’s happening this Friday, November 18th, and you can can expect a massive party featuring £2 drinks (selected single spirit mixers, bottles of beer, small glasses of wine and selected cocktails).
There’ll also be free canapés of cheese and meats from 8pm and a local DJ spinning records from 7pm – 1am.
The bar has made a name for itself over the past few years, serving as not only a space to enjoy a delicious tipple, but also to sample some of the city’s finest independent food pop-ups.
It’s seen the likes of Lazy Tony’s Lasagneria, Black Leaf and Abeja all make the move into its intimate basement restaurant, each producing delightfully different dishes.
Alvarium also does an excellent Friday happy hour deal that runs from 4pm – 1am. This will get you two for £5 bottles of Mahou, £20 bottles of Prosecco, £12.50 wine and two for £10 cocktails.
The party this Friday is set to celebrate everything the bar is known and loved for – excellent drink deals, a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere and a proper good knees up.
Make sure you get yourself signed up – either HERE or on the form below – to attend.