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.
Kids can now become firefighters at Greater Manchester’s new immersive Fireground experience
The new attraction includes a fireman’s pole, historic fire engines and immersive street scenes
Kids can now try their hand at being a firefighter in Greater Manchester’s new and immersive ‘Fireground’.
The new attraction has replaced Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum in Rochdale’s old fire station, and features a whole array of firefighter-themed fun for the little ones, including fully restored fire engines, horse-drawn fire carriages and manual hand-operated pumps
There’s also an immersive Victorian street scene and a scene from the blitz, complete with lighting and sound effects, perfect for the children to immerse themselves in the fire service’s extensive history.
The museum boasts a number of interactive display elements too, including a play area with a fireman’s pole to slide down – something that has proven to be a big hit with the kids.
The reviews for the new Fireground – which has been five years in the making with a massive of £1.6m – have been glowing, with parent and blogger Katrina Heywood hailing it as ‘the best time’ after visiting with her son Joseph.
Writing on her Mama Fox Reviews Facebook page, Katrina wrote: “Joseph loved all things firefighter related at the moment and there was lots of interactive things to do. He didn’t want to leave!”
Katrina said her son particularly enjoyed the interactive areas including the fireman’s pole, driving an engine simulation, trying on firefighter’s clothing and taking part in the firefighter quiz, which was ‘very accessible with pull away seating and colour coded questions using switches’.
She added: “The staff were all fantastic. Very knowledgeable and would give lots of info to adults and kids about the exhibits. Lovely interactions with the kids too.”
Over on the Fireground website, the company states it’s mission is to ‘explore, preserve and make accessible the history of fire, fire engineering and the fire and rescue services in the Greater Manchester region and, through our collections and resources, to further the education and promotion of fire safety in the community’.
There’s a cafe on site serving hot drinks and cakes, as well as a small shop selling toys, helmets, books and other firefighter-related products.
A number of events are planned at the museum later this year, including an Easter Trail on April 14th and 16th, a Mega Machines event on June 25th and a Family Fun Day on August 20th.
Tickets for children and concessions cost £5, adults £7, or family tickets for £20. Children under the age of four get to visit for free.
For more information and bookings, visit the Fireground website here.
Here’s how Manchester is celebrating Chinese New Year
Manchester will be welcoming the Year of the Tiger in style…
The Chinese New Year is nearly upon us, and Manchester has a whole week of celebrations planned to mark the occasion.
Chinese New Year – also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival – will fall on Tuesday February 1st this year, starting the year of the Tiger.
According to the Chinese zodiac, people born in a year of the Tiger are predicted to be brave, competitive, unpredictable, and confident. However, they will also experience their zodiac birth sign year, benmingnian, in 2022, which is considered bad luck.
But let’s not worry about that because Manchester has a ton of exciting events and activities lined up to welcome in the Year of the Tiger.
While the annual parade won’t be going ahead due to Covid restrictions, there will be the grand unveiling of a huge tiger art sculpture at St Ann’s Square on February 1st.
Commissioned by Manchester BID, the installation will take on the form of a traditional tiger from wood and recycled corrugated plastic.
While the tiger is a symbol of power, bravery and force in Chinese culture, the origami-esque sculpture will give the illusion of being weak and easily broken when, in fact, it will remain strong and tall for the city to see.
The tiger’s inner structure will also match the stripes and markings of a real-life tiger, which will cast stunning shadows at night with the help from surrounding lights.
And, on February 6th, Manchester’s Chinatown will come to life to celebrate the Lunar New Year with a whole host of family-friendly activities including lion dancing, Chinese dancers, street food stalls and Chinese arts and crafts events.
Thousands of traditional red lanterns will gradually adorn Chinatown and the rest of the city’s streets from today, too.
The Chinese New Year will be celebrated from February 1st – February 6th. Make sure to follow Manchester’s Chinese New Year celebrations Instagram page for news and updates.
A new £1m immersive Peter Rabbit attraction is coming to Blackpool’s seafront
This will make for an exceptionally wholesome day out with the little ‘uns
A new £1m attraction based on the beloved Peter Rabbit is set to open on Blackpool’s seafront next month.
‘Peter Rabbit Explore and Play’, which has been eighteen months in the making, will be opening next door to Madame Tussauds and will join Merlin’s six other attractions, including The Blackpool Tower and Sea Life Blackpool.
In what will be Merlin’s first stand-alone visitor attraction experience based on the cartoon, visitors will be able to fully immerse themselves in the world of Peter Rabbit and ’embark on an adventure across five fluffy-tailed themed zones’.
Guests will also be able to meet, greet and ‘high-paw’ Peter the Rabbit himself when the attraction opens in February.
Merlin said on the new opening: “Guests will need to think like a rabbit, move like a rabbit and deploy rabbit-like senses with a whole burrow-full of creativity in order to complete the challenges and earn badges – seeing if they have the skills to join the secret treehouse club.”
The regional director Kate Shane added: “We are thrilled to be welcoming such an icon to Blackpool.
“Peter Rabbit is a well-loved household name for young and old and is globally renowned. We are delighted that this new attraction concept will be created here in Blackpool first.
“We firmly support Blackpool’s overall ambition to be the UK’s number one family seaside resort and with such a family-favourite brand joining our Blackpool Cluster of attractions we can’t wait to ‘hop’ to it and get the experience open.”
An exact opening date is yet to be announced, though it has been confirmed for February 2022.
For news and updates, make sure to follow the official Peter Rabbit: Explore and Play Blackpool Facebook page here.