Beach at the Great Northern

There's no need to travel to get some sand between your toes as there's a beach right here in Manchester this summer.

Great Northern's ampitheatre has been transformed into a giant sandpit and it's free for families to enjoy.


The sandpit, complete with 50 tonnes of sand along with a giant deckchair, was visited by thousands of families when it first arrived last summer.

Little ones will also be able to enjoy the venue's Playhouse , also housed in the amphitheatre and featuring an animal hospital for teddies, a pretend café and a mini library.

Great Northern, Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4EN.

GMP Museum

The Greater Manchester Police Museum is hosting open days every Tuesday and Thursday from July 23.

The events, from 10.30am to 3.30pm, focus on different units within the police force from the North West Underwater Search and Recovery Unit to the Tactical Dog Unit and the North West Ambulance Service.

57A Newton Street, Manchester, M1 1ET.

Terrific Tuesdays at Manchester Cathedral

There's free circus themed fun and craft activities at Manchester Cathedral every Tuesday during the school holidays.

Families can drop in any time between 10.15am and 12pm between July 23 and August 27 for the 'Come Alive' sessions.

Get tickets by visiting the event section of the venue's Facebook page here .

Visit for more details.

Manchester Cathedral, Victoria Street, Manchester, M3 1SX.

Science and Industry Museum

There's loads happening at the museum as it hosts its Summer of Fun between July 20 and September 1.

There are family shows, activities and events, including games and challenges to coincide with the new exhibition The Sun, to which children go free with a paying adult.

There are daily Science Showdowns to answer your burning questions on the sun. Shows will feature spinning science, big bubbles and more.

Although many of the activities are free, places are often limited, so book at the front desk when you arrive to make sure you don't miss out.

See the full round-up of activities here .

Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, Manchester, M3 4FP.

The Whitworth

There's loads of free fun at The Whitworth this summer.

It starts with the Animals of Manchester event, which is part of the Manchester International Festival, and takes place from 10am to 5pm on the weekend of July 20 and 21.

Visitors are asked to 'imagine a city where animals of all kinds, including human beings, live together as equals'.

Animals of Manchester pictures what life might be like if dogs, hogs, cats, bats and other creatures lived alongside us, not just as our pets, but as our peers – our companions.

Trace a trail through the Whitworth’s galleries and Whitworth Park and take part in some 'absorbing animal encounters' - including everything from a university where dogs do the teaching, to a film studio run by beetles.

Playtime will also be running at The Whitworth throughout the holidays.

Families are encouraged to have a wander and find things to do both indoors and out between 11am and 3pm daily between July 27 and September 1.

There's a Splash Studio - an open studio to experiment and play with water walls, tables and channels - giant garden games, a sensory area for babies and lots more.

On National Play Day, August 7, there'll be the added fun of water pistol painting and bubble art between 11am and 3pm and on August 21 there's a Family Bug Hunt between 11am and 1pm where families can find out about the tiny creatures living in Whitworth Park.

See the full schedule of activities here .

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER.


Free summer fun days, North Manchester

There are free activities for kids at these summer fun days taking place at different venues across north Manchester.

The events - on Sunday, July 21 and then every Wednesday afternoon until August 28 - feature a wide range of sports and activities, inflatables, face painting, music, a climbing wall and more.

All ages are welcome and the fun days run from 12pm to 3pm. There's no need to book so you can just pop along on the day.

The full list of dates and venues is pictured below.

Manchester Museum

There are workshops and sessions taking place at the museum over the summer.

Family learning workshops are on daily from 10.30am to 12.30pm between July 26 and 26, focusing on either the ocean or the garden.

Summer Friendly Fridays then run on August 16, 23 and 30 in the museum’s fossils gallery where Stan the T-Rex is based.

The autism-friendly sessions run from 9.15am to 11.30am.

Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL.


Wythenshawe Games

Wythenshawe Games is a free, fun, sports and activities festival for all ages.

Based in Wythenshawe Park, the Games runs over 5 days in the summer holidays between 11am and 5pm, from July 24 to 28.

There are loads of different sports to try, with activities for all abilities and some of the days have specific themes such as Sport for all Day and This Girl Can.

And there's also an under fives zone for babies and toddlers, running daily between 11am and 4pm. No need to book, so just turn up and enjoy the fun.

Wythenshawe Park, Wythenshawe, M23 0AB.


Peterloo 2019 at People's History Museum and more

A whole programme of summer events is taking place at the museum and other attractions, including Dunham Massey and Quarry Bank, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre.

There's lots for families to get involved with at Peterloo 2019.

Visitors to the People's History Museum can meet Hope, a life sized suffragette made entirely from Lego and will be there until September.

As well as posing for suffragette selfies, she's the inspiration behind the story from Peterloo to the Pankhursts that’s told in the museum’s main galleries.

There'll also be creative Make Your Mark drop-in workshops from 1pm to 3pm every Wednesday between July 24 and August 28, introducing different print techniques and inspiring ideas for peaceful protest.

Other events will take place at Manchester Central Library and on August 16 there'll be a Peterloo Picnic at HOME.

Featuring food, music, screenings and a line-up of performances on the Manchester Histories Soapbox, it will mark the moment that 200 years ago a peaceful protest transformed into an event that would become a milestone in Britain’s democracy.

Elsewhere, at Dunham Massey and Quarry Bank, films will be shown, created specifically for each place to delve into their individual Peterloo stories and those whose lives were affected at the time.

Glorious Phantoms comprises two films, created by artist family Grace Surman and Gary Winters and their children Hope and Merrick, and there'll be shown between now and September 29.

For more information about all the events taking place for Peterloo 2019, visit the website here .

People's History Museum, New Ct St, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3ER.

Festa Italiana

An annual celebration of Italian food and drink is coming to Manchester and children will have their very own programme of events.

Festa Italiana is the UK's largest Italian food festival, and will take over Cathedral Gardens from July 26 to 28.

The children's activities will be centred around the Bambini Garden.

There will be bell tents housing different activities, from mask making to garden games, face painting to juggling, and even a pasta making workshop from Carmella Serano Hayes.

Food across the festival site will be child-friendly, from fresh juices to pizza, pasta, ice cream, crepes and Nutella.

Find out more about the full schedule of events here .

Cathedral Gardens, Corporation Street, Manchester, M4 3BG.

Simply Cycling

Cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome to try out the wide range of bikes available at these Simply Cycling sessions.

Sessions are held across three sites - Wythenshawe Park Athletics Track, Longford Park Athletic Stadium and Boggart Hole Clough Athletics Track.

Whether it's a traditional two-wheeler, a trike, a bike to carry your baby on, or a recliner, there will be something to suit your needs.

It costs £2.50 per person to ride for two hours, with sessions also open to children and adults with disabilities.

Simply Cycling is a not-for-profit organisation incorporating Wythenshawe Wheelers and Trafford Wheelers.

Sessions are on the following days and times:

Wythenshawe Park Athletics Track, Wythenshawe Road, M23 OPH

Tuesdays - 9am to 3pm

Wednesdays - 9am to noon

Fridays - 9am to 3pm (noon during school holidays)

Saturdays - 1pm to 2.25pm and 2.30pm to 4pm.

Longford Park Athletic Stadium, Ryebank Road, Stretford, M21 9TA

Mondays and Fridays - 9am to noon

Sundays - 1pm to 3pm

Boggart Hole Clough Athletics Track . Parking: Approach from Charlestown Road, Manchester, M9 7DH.

Wednesdays - 9am to 3pm

Saturdays - 9.30am to 11.30am.

For more details visit .


Trafford Live

It's Trafford's biggest family day of the summer and there's loads of free fun on offer.

There'll be nature trails, sport activities and armed forces vehicles at Trafford Live, which takes place on Sunday, July 21.

Trafford Council and Lancashire Cricket Club are hosting the family bonanza within the grounds of the Town Hall on Talbot Road and the Foster’s Fan Village at Emirates Old Trafford.

Exhibitors include LegoLand, the Imperial War Museum, The National Trust, the RSPB, and Guide Dogs for the blind.

The event, running from 11am to 4pm, is completely free and will include dozens of activities and displays designed to showcase Trafford’s sports, history and culture.

There'll be live music, dancing and a bouncy castle and little ones will have the chance to sit in a police car, fire engine or ambulance.

For the cricket fans, there's even a match taking place on the day - the T20 Vitality Blast fixture between Lancashire and Durham.

The Emirates Old Trafford Foster’s Fan Village will be free to enter, with T20 match tickets starting from £8 for adults and £1 for kids.

Parking is available at Trafford College on Talbot Road. Visit the Facebook page for more details.

Trafford College, Talbot Rd, Stretford, M32 0TH.

Refract and more at Waterside Arts Centre

Trafford's flagship arts festival is back this summer and there's lots for families to experience.

Refract:19 runs from Thursday, July 18 to Saturday, July 27 and as well as 'the very best in live comedy, music, dance, experiential performance and theatre', the 10-day event promises some 'great family events and shows'.

On Saturday, July 20 there's a special family art club to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landings between 10am and noon.

And on Sunday, from 11am to 11.45am, there's MiniFest - a fun musical experience for children, and adults, with the Artful Playground Band.

On Wednesday, July 24, there's a 30-minute performance from Space Rebel Princess, at 11.30am. Tickets cost from £3 and can be booked online .

For more details on Refract, including a Slime show which is visiting libraries between July 25 and 27, visit the website here .

Waterside Arts Centre, Waterside Plaza, Sale, Trafford, M33 7ZF.

Trafford Centre Emergency Services Day

It's always a popular event in the calendar for many families, especially if your little ones are a fan of emergency vehciles.

This summer's 999 Emergency Services Day is the ninth such event hosted by intu Trafford Centre and GMCA.

Taking place from 10am to 4pm on Thursday, August 1, it'll feature an array of emergency service vehicles, as well as military, charity and environmental displays.

The Greater Manchester Police Band will perform on the Orient Main Stage, and visitors will be treated to fire and rescue simulations, CSI activities, CPR demos and much more.

The event is held on Regent 13 car park adjacent to Debenhams.

intu Trafford Centre, Stretford, M17 8AA.

Bugs and Beach at intu Trafford Centre

There's loads more fun happening at the Trafford Centre too this summer, including a free giant beach.

The Summer Hub, featuring the beach and other children's attractions, is located outside The Great Hall.

Visiting the beach and use of the deckchairs is free and there are charges for other activities including the water walkers, bumper boats, carousel, a bungee trampoline and more.

There's also a pop-up gin and fizz garden with garden games, outdoor seating and a bar serving up a selection of summer drinks and if the weather takes a turn for the worse, you can shelter under the stretched marquee.

Just remember to take along your own buckets and spades for the kids to play with.

The beach, which is open 11am to 7pm Monday to Sunday, is among a huge line-up of free family fun at the shopping centre this summer.

And if you head inside the mall, you can take part in the Big Bug Tour , where, until July 30, families can hunt for 12 intricately-designed, giant lifelike bugs placed around the mall.

For more details of the events visit the website here .


Salford Museum and Art Gallery

There are lots of free and cheap activities at the museum and gallery over the holidays.

Every Tuesday - between 10am and 12pm and from 1pm to 3pm - it's Toys Through Times, when children can have a go with traditional toys from the past.

See how they have changed over the years and how they compare to toys children play with in modern times. For £1.50 you can take home a make-it-yourself toy kit to build later.

There's more fun at the Victorian street Lark Hill Place, which is hosting Washday Wednesdays every week between 11am and 2pm and the Lark Hill Place Sweet Shop opens every Friday between 10am and noon and again from 1pm to 3pm.

Families can get some treats from Mr Tomlinson's Sweet Shop in return for a donation to the museum.

See the full list of activities here .

Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Peel Park, The Crescent, Salford, M5 4WU.

Summer Weekender, MediaCity

There are loads of children's activities promised at MediaCity's first Summer Weekender.

The event is coming to the Piazza from Friday, August 9 to Sunday, August 11 with fairground rides, live music and more.

On the Friday it'll kick off at 1.30pm with a 40-minute performance by BBC Philharmonic’s Early Ears Trio of the children’s storybook classic, The Gingerbread Man.

From 4pm to 6pm, Manchester’s popular DJ collective Disco Mums will play tunes that all the family can enjoy, then on the Saturday Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club will perform from 3pm to 4.30pm.

A Summer Beach will be open across the weekend, with activities including under the sea mobile making, Snappy Crab and Mermaid workshops and Stories in the Shade.

Tickets, costing £4 each or £15 for a family, can be booked online . Under threes go free.

MediaCityUK, Salford, M50 2BH.


Lowry Non Stop, The Lowry

There's loads of fun happening as part of Lowry Non-Stop.

Fun free activities for children aged five to 11 will run daily between August 1 and September 1, from 11am to 4pm. Visit the website for more details.

And to coincide with the theatre's summer show We're Going On A Bear Hunt, The Lowry is also hosting its own free Bear Hunt Trail.

Pick up a trail map from the welcome desk or at the Lowry Outlet and follow the trail to find the hidden bears.

The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ.


Giant Leap Frog Art Trail

A total of 19 brightly-painted frog sculptures have gone on display around the town for Stockport’s Giant Leap Frog Art Trail.

The colourful frogs, each with an individual design, are on their own lily pads and placed at various locations including St Peter's Square and Market Place.

Characters include 'dapper digital dude' KermIT, Mrs Mersey - the Hoppy Shopper, This Little Froggy Went to Market and more.

Thousands of maps are available, including those included in the Totally Stockport magazine, and if you can't get your hands on one they can be downloaded here .

After the trail closes, the frogs will be auctioned with surplus funds awarded to charity to create a Giant Leap legacy fund.

It's running until September 28 and has its own website here .

Swipe right through the gallery to see more of the frogs from the trail


There's a free outdoor beach coming to the Merseyway Shopping Centre this summer.

Merseybay will be open to children of all ages and located outside Primark from July 27 to August 31.

The beach will be bigger than previous years and will feature deckchairs for parents to sit back and relax in, while children can enjoy fun rides and activities around the centre including a helter skelter and bumper boats.

Families can also grab a bite to eat from the food huts, which will be selling seaside dishes including fish and chips.

Every Friday between 3pm and 5pm, Merseyway will also be hosting a free Friday Club, where children can dance along with live DJs and take part in party games.

Visit the website for more details.

Merseyway, Great Underbank, Stockport, SK1 1PD.


Free outdoor theatre and countryside events

There are loads of free family theatre shows to enjoy in Tameside during the holidays.

All the shows take place twice a day on Thursdays - at 11.30am and 2.30pm - and are suitable for children aged three and over, their parents and carers.

The curtain goes up on August 1 at Victoria Park, Denton, with acclaimed outdoor performers The Fabularium and The Hare and the Moon, a story from the Siberian tundra telling how the most unlikely creature rescued the sun, and created a new addition to the night sky - the moon.

There be Monsters is on August 8 at Ryecroft Park, Audenshaw. It’s also by The Fabularium and is described as an heroic romp-around.

On August 15, the focus switches to the big top with performances by Circus Sensible who’ll be putting on a show guaranteed to thrill and excite the whole family. The venue is Cedar Park, Queens Road, Ashton.

Next up is Mr Magnolia – based on the popular book by Quentin Blake – in Dukinfield Park, and the programme concludes in Hyde Park, on August 29, with the Dr Seuss classic The Cat in the Hat.

Running alongside the park theatre performances are Wednesday countryside events.

Let’s Go Native (July 31) is a pow-wow in Hyde Park where children can take part in activities related to Native Americans. Then on August 7, Wild Art, in Cheetham’s Park, Stalybridge, offers a chance to get creative with charcoal sticks made on a camp fire.

Away with the Fairies (21 August) at Lymefield Broad Mills, Broadbottom, is an enchanting day in the countryside complete with a wandering sprite of the woods and a troll trail.

On August 28, at Park Bridge Heritage Centre, there’s Sounds Natural where you can make your own instruments and become part of the woodland orchestra led by the countryside conductor.

Visit the website for more details.

Portland Basin

There are free and cheap workshops running throughout the holidays.

Make Do and Play drop-in workshops are on every Tuesday and Thursday, between 11am and 3pm, and cost £1 per child.

And between the same times on Wednesdays, kids can meet 'First World War soldier' Tommy Atkins at a free event.

Kids can find out first-hand how British soldiers survived on the Western Front, see the uniform they wore, the equipment they used and the rations they ate at this educational and informative event.

Portland Basin Museum, Portland Place, Ashton, OL7 0QA.


Free giant beach Heaton Park

A giant beach is returning to Heaton Park this summer - and the best bit is it's FREE.

Come to the Beach brings sand, deck chairs, buckets and spades and more to the popular park and will be open 12pm to 5pm from July 20 until September 1.

There'll be character appearances and children's entertainment too, as well as a seaside fun park with traditional rides and attractions, which can be paid for either individually or with wristbands.

Check out the website for details of entertainment and character appearances plus discounts and offers.

Heaton Park, Middleton Road, M25 2SW.

Bury'd Treasure, Bury parks

Bury’d Treasure is a pirate adventure game that’s perfect for families to have fun together in Bury and it's back this summer.

Anyone can play, it won’t cost a single gold coin and there’s loads of prizes to win.

Loads of schools across Bury have signed the scroll to be part of Bury’d Treasure, but even if your child's school hasn't, you can still play along.

Trails and ready to be discovered every single day between now and September 1 , with eight different routes to explore.

The trails are at:

  • Clarence Park, Bury
  • Nuttall Park, Ramsbottom
  • Kirklees Trail, Tottington
  • Prestwich Clough
  • Phillips Park, Whitefield
  • Burrs Country Park, Bury
  • Outwood Trail, Radcliffe

To start your adventure simply get a grown up to register on this website or smartphone app, pick your pirate, pick a walk, download and print the map, or follow the route on the app.

Each walk you go on will take you past seven simple puzzles (some are really easy to spot, but you’ll need to look harder to find the others).

Visit the website for more details.


Great Pirate Adventure, Bolton Museum

There's lots of pirate themed fun of offer at the museum's Great Pirate Adventure this summer.

At the pirate training school children can learn how to look, talk and act like a pirate, sing a pirate song, make a pirate craft and dig for treasure.

Free activities are running hourly from 11am until 3pm Monday to Saturday between July 22 and August 17.

Octagon Theatre has teamed up with Bolton Museum to create the temporary exhibition to celebrate its festive production of Treasure Island this December.

Tickets are free but sessions need to be booked in advance online .

Bolton Library and Museum Services, Le Mans Crescent, Bolton, BL1 1SE.


Pirate Treasure Hunt, Moss Bank Park

There's even more pirate themed fun on offer at Bolton's Moss Bank Park.

Families can join in a treasure hunt between 11am and 3.30pm on the last two weekends in July and the first weekend in August.

Follow the pirate map and solve the rhymes to discover the whereabouts of the treasure.

It's a self-guided activity running across the park. Register at the ice-cream kiosk and collect your map and instructions from there. Pirate chocolates treasure will be included. £2 entrance fee.

Moss Bank Park, Moss Lane, Bolton, BL1 6LY.


Bug Hunts at Smithills Hall and Hall i’ th’ Wood Museum

Families can enjoy bug hunting sessions at Smithills Hall and Hall i’ th’ Wood Museum this summer.

Grab your nets and containers so that you can examine what you have found and there'll be a bug expert on hand to help you identify them.

Sessions - suitable for children aged four to 11 - are from 11am to 12pm and 1pm to 2pm on Tuesday, July 23 at Hall i’ th’ Wood Museum and Wednesday, August 14 at Smithills Hall. Tickets cost £2 per child and can be booked online .

Smithills Hall, Smithills Dean Road, Bolton, BL1 7NP.

Bolton Food and Drink Festival

The festival is back this summer and promising to be bigger and better than ever.

This year it's also introducing a new family zone in Crompton Place, right at the heart of the festival, where children can try their hand at loads of fun free activities all weekend.

The event runs from Friday, August 23 to Monday, August 26. See the website for more details.

Crompton Place, Mealhouse Lane, Bolton, BL1 1DF.

Book Corner, Wynsors

If you want to get organised and get those school shoes before the queues start then Wynsors in Bolton is helping you kill two birds with one stone.

The store is hosting a travelling pop-up reading corner for children, complete with classic stories from Roald Dahl.

The Blackburn Road shop is the first stop on the literacy tour and it'll be there from July 22 to 27.

Created with kids in mind, the Book Corner comes complete with a reading tepee, cushions and throws, giving children something to keep them busy while parents have a browse.

The tour is part of a wider book swap campaign where kids can take an old book along to any of Wynsors' 45 stores and swap it for a different one.

Wynsors, Blackburn Road, Bolton, BL1 8DT. 


Free park play sessions

There are free play sessions taking place at parks across Oldham this summer.

There'll be arts, crafts, circus skills and more on offer at parks including Foxdenton in Chadderton, Dunwood in Shaw, Bullcote Park and more.

At Chadderton Hall Park there are Get Moving play sessions from Oldham Play Action Group, 1pm to 3pm, every Monday and Friday between July 22 and August 16.

Everyone is welcome and all children must be accompanied by an adult.

To see the full list of park sessions available, see .

Smallbrook Road, Shaw, Oldham, OL2 7UQ.


Rochdale Feel Good Festival

The popular event comes to Rochdale on Saturday, August 10 and there's loads of free fun planned in the festival's Family Zone.

The Esplanade and gardens in front of Rochdale Town Hall will be transformed into Festival Square between 11am and 5pm. 

Free entry, no tickets required. Families can enjoy a virtual reality playground, games, theatre, carousel ride, aerial acrobatics, illusions, multi-sensory experiences, music and more. Entry is free and no tickets are required.

Find out more about the festival here .

Rochdale Town Hall Square, Rochdale, OL16 1AH.



Haigh Woodland Park

Crazy golf costs £1 per person at the popular Haigh Woodland Park and features everything from dinosaurs to cannons.

The course is open from 11am to 4pm (weather and volunteers permitting) at weekends and throughout school holidays.

The playground is hugely popular among families, with climbing frames, rope swings and activities for all age groups.

There's also a miniature railway running between 11am and 4pm in the school holidays for £1 a ride.

Haigh Woodland Park, Copperas Lane, Wigan, WN2 1PE.


Bents, Warrington

The indoor beach and dinosaur golf alone are enough to pull in the crowds to Bents.

But now it just got even more appealing for families with the opening of its own Butterfly House.

The new attraction is home to a variety of British butterflies and has been launched in time to tie in with the nation’s Big Butterfly Count, which encourages spotters throughout the country to take part between July 19 and August 11.

And there are lots of other events taking place at the venue this summer too.

Wednesday is the day to get creative with Wacky Wednesday craft activities, taking place from July 24 to August 28.

Thursday is Character Sing-a-long day. Between July 25 and August 29 there'll be characters including Mary Poppins and Bert, toy cowboys and fairies and pirates for free sing-a-long sessions and meet and greets, starting at noon.

Bents, Warrington Rd, Glazebury, Warrington, WA3 5NT.