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Christmas panto Dick Whittington and his Amazing Cat is coming to Manchester’s iconic Contact Theatre

Manchester’s ‘proper panto’ is back for the first time in four years…

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Contact Theatre

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.

Contact Theatre

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’. 

Contact Theatre

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.

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Free festivals coming to Freight Island for ‘most electrifying season yet’

Get ready for a festival season of great food, drink and music at Freight Island!

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Freight Island

Freight Island is gearing up for an epic free festival series throughout the spring and summer months, which promises to be its ‘most electrifying season yet’.

Back open in full swing on Easter weekend, Freight Island is set to re-open fully on Friday, March 29th featuring world-renowned DJs and the city’s finest talents to present top tier entertainment.

All free to attend, this year’s epic series is set to welcome some of the music scene’s most revered talents such as David Rodigan, Greg Wilson, Norman Jay, Luke Una and his special É Soul Cultura, Crazy P (DJ Set), Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, and many more.

Freight Island

Supporting acts include some of Manchester’s most celebrated DJs and collectives, including the likes of Sit N Bun, Supernature Disco, SK1 Records, Me Gusta Collective, Semi Skimmed Edits, Ghosts of Garage, and more.

In addition to the sensational spring/summer programming, Freight Island also hosts regular events including the famous pop club night Cherrybomb, mass karaoke, creative workshops, and more. 

Continuing to champion independent traders from the North West, Freight Island will see a new addition to this year’s festival season with Liverpool institution Pattersons.

Freight Island

Guests can tuck into the North West spot’s famous mouth-watering fried chicken, which is brined for over 24 hours in Pattersons’ special mix of herbs and spices and dusted in secret recipe flour.

Hungry guests can also expect all of Freight Island’s amazing traders to be back open, including the premium smashed burgers from Burgerism, giant 22” pizza and slices from Voodoo Ray’s, slab shack from Lazy Tony’s Lasagnaria, and Indian and Nepalese street food from Payal.

As well as Greek street food from Mega Gyros, Venezuelan cuisine from Mia’s Arepas, pan-Asian cuisine from Fuku, open fire cooking from Smoking Coal, and cheesecake on a stick from Oh My Cheesecake.

Freight Island

Foodie programme resumes with Seconds carvery every Sunday, featuring quality roast meats and unlimited access to all the trimmings.

To book your FREE tickets for the Freight Island festivals, click HERE.

Freight Island opens for its epic spring/summer festival from Friday March 29th. Opening hours are Thursday from 4pm until 11pm, Friday from 4pm until 12am, Saturday from 12pm until 12am, and Sunday from 12pm until 10pm.

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Chester Zoo letting school children visit for FREE to ‘inspire new generation of conservationists’

More than 35,000 of the free educational visit tickets are up for grabs

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Chester Zoo & @chesterzoo / Instagram

Chester Zoo is inviting children in education to visit for free as part of its aim to inspire a new generation of conservationists.

Pupils from nurseries, primary, secondary schools, and colleges can take advantage of the free places, which gives them the chance to explore conservation up close at the charity’s 128-acre zoological gardens.

Running since 2017, the zoo’s free ticket scheme has already seen more than 100,000 children and young people experience the wonders the zoo has to offer. This year, more than 35,000 of the free educational visit tickets are up for grabs.

Chester Zoo

This time round, the zoo is also opening the initiative to nurseries, schools and colleges that haven’t benefited from the scheme within the last three years.

Every school participating in the programme will receive a free resource pack to help maximise the educational impact of their zoo visit.

Charlotte Smith, director of conservation education and engagement at Chester Zoo, said: “Every one of us is a custodian of our natural world but it’s the next generation of conservationists – children and young people today – who are fundamentally important to overcoming the environmental and biodiversity challenges our planet is facing.

Chester Zoo

“They are inspiring and they give us hope, which is why we’re so keen to connect them with the awe and wonder of nature and help to nurture their passion and desire to make a difference.

“It’s proven that a visit to the zoo can significantly enhance people’s understanding of the huge efforts that go into conserving highly threatened species, while also bringing physical and mental health benefits, too.

“That’s why we particularly want to reach youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds and ensure they are the primary beneficiaries of the initiative – so we can provide them with the skills and know-how to go on and make a real, positive difference to wildlife in their everyday lives.”

@chesterzoo / Instagram

Chester Zoo’s free educational visits are for between November 2024 and February 2025. 

To apply you will need to fill out an application form and submit it online. The deadline is March 22nd.

To apply for a free educational visit to Chester Zoo, click HERE.

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LS Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon painting to go on public display for first time in 57 years

It will go on display for the first time in 57 years before it goes to auction

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Christie's

LS Lowry’s painting Sunday Afternoon is to go on public display for the first time in 57 years.

The painting, worth more than £4 million will go on display in Christie’s London on March 13th before it goes to auction on March 20th.

Lowry, who was born in Stretford in 1887, painted industrial districts in Greater Manchester and around the North West. He mainly depicted Salford in his works.

Christie’s

Laurence Stephen Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon illustrates a densely populated industrial landscape, which shows what Lowry described as the ‘battle of life’. 

Before his death in 1976 at the age of 88, Lowry produced more than 1,000 artworks.

Auctioneers expect the painting to go for between £4 million and £6 million at the Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale on March 20th.

Wally Gobetz / Flickr

The artwork was previously sold at the Christies in 1967 for a ‘record price’ and was obtained from the collection of Keith Showering, who was a former chief executive of Europe’s biggest drinks business Allied Breweries.

Phillip Harley, senior director at Christie’s, said: “Sunday Afternoon by LS Lowry will return to the public eye at Christie’s for the first time since it was last seen here 57 years ago.

“This important painting has remained in the collection of Sir Keith and Lady Showering since 1967, offering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire a work of this magnitude and scale.

Gerald England / Geograph

“The composition represents the wonder the artist felt as he recorded his many observations of the evolving society around him.

“We are thrilled to bring Sunday Afternoon back to auction in the Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale. We look forward to welcoming our clients and visitors alike to view the painting when it goes on free display in London on 13 March.”

LS Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon will go on public display at the Christie’s London from March 13th to 20th.

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