Santa Claus is Coming to Town and So Should You: Manchester’s 8 Best (and Lesser Known) Family Christmas Events

As Christmas wraps its arms around Manchester, the city transforms into a winter wonderland, sparkling with fun and joy. Streets lined with twinkling lights, laughter echoing from vibrant Christmas markets, and the sweet scent of mulled wine. Manchester really does have some of the best Christmas events around! A magical time where traditions blend seamlessly with modern celebrations, creating unforgettable experiences for families.

best family Christmas events

From the enchanting East Lancashire Christmas Grotto to the magical Christmas light display at Dunham Massey through to the bustling Christmas Markets, Manchester offers a spectacle that rivals the North Pole itself. Each corner of the city brims with festive cheer, inviting families to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Join us as we unwrap the best family Christmas events in Manchester. So, bundle up, pull on your hat and gloves, grab the family, and dive into our guide for making the most of this joyful season in one of England’s most vibrant cities.

Santa Claus is indeed coming to town, and so should you!

Discover Manchester’s Magical Santas Grottos

Manchester’s Christmas season comes alive with an array of enchanting Santas Grottos, each offering a unique festive experience. Quarry Bank enchants with a personal visit with Santa amid festive crafts, tailored for all ages including special sessions for babies and neurodiverse children.

East Lancashire Railway transforms a steam train journey through the Irwell Valley into a festive extravaganza, complete with Santa visits, live music, and treats. Reddish Vale Farm invites families to a magical world with craft-making in Santa’s Workshop and a glimpse into elf life in their village. These experiences go beyond a simple Santa meet-and-greet, immersing families in the joy and wonder of Christmas.

Shop Local This Christmas: Uncover Didsbury’s Giddy Goat Toys

Ok, maybe this Christmas event isn’t one for the family, rather it’s where Father Christmas should go to embrace the spirit of giving by supporting local retailers this Christmas at Didsbury’s Giddy Goat Toys. Nestled in the heart of South Manchester, this independent retailer offers an eco-friendly, diverse toy selection perfect for festive gifting. Before heading down, check out our exclusive interview with owner Amanda who shares insights on curating educational and fun toys and competing with online giants through personalised customer service.

Their current best-seller, Magnetic Monkey Mates, epitomises their commitment to affordable, engaging toys. In a digital age, Giddy Goat Toys stands out as a community beacon, urging shoppers to choose local stores for a more meaningful Christmas experience. So rekindle the joy of shopping local and make your Christmas gifts count at Giddy Goat Toys.

Christmas Magic at Lyme Park: A Festive Family Adventure

Experience the festive charm of Lyme Park in Cheshire – the exterior setting for Pemberley in the hit Colin Firth BBC TV Series Pride and Prejudice – this Christmas. The Lyme estate transforms into a winter wonderland, with an animal-themed takeover inside the grand house, open daily from 1st to 24th December 2023. And, National Trust Members get in for free!

Enjoy heartwarming Christmas carols in the Timber Yard, indulge in sensory experiences with dedicated sensory bags, and explore the tranquil Chapel, turned into a relaxing sensory space at this incredible Christmas event. Venture outdoors for winter walks across the estate’s expansive 1,400 acres, suitable for all ages and abilities. Afterward, savour festive food and drinks in the café or treat yourself to a festive afternoon tea. Complete your visit with unique Christmas shopping, offering sustainable gifts and special souvenirs. Lyme Park provides a perfect blend of festive indoor charm and outdoor adventure, making it an ideal Christmas outing for families.

Find the Perfect Christmas Tree at a Christmas Tree Farm

Kick off the festive season with a family trip to select the perfect Christmas tree at local farms in Manchester and Cheshire. Ivy Cottage Christmas Tree Farm in Wilmslow offers a wide selection of trees, including Norway Spruce and Fir, with an option to pick your own tree.

Grappenhall Christmas Trees in Warrington introduces a ‘SustainabiliTREE’ event, encouraging eco-friendly practices. Clayton Fold Christmas Tree Farm near the Peak District provides a diverse range of trees, including the unique Rocky Mountain Fir. These farms offer more than just trees; they provide a full festive experience with decorations, charity cards, and even a cozy shepherd’s hut at Ivy Cottage. Embrace this charming family Christmas event, selecting your tree and creating lasting holiday memories.

Discover Family Christmas Events at Bents Garden Centre

Have you got a spare 20 minutes, day, weekend or week? No matter how much time you have, you will never have enough time for all the varied Christmas events available at Bents Garden Centre on the edges of Salford and Warrington. Whether you are after a specific Christmas decoration, need a new Christmas tree, or you are just looking for an experience, make Bents your go to Christmas decoration.

Bents Garden Centre has really developed the outside area into a mini Christmas market. In our view, if you’re after the typical food you get from the Manchester Christmas market – Bratwurst, Yorkshire pudding wrap, this gives you everything you may want, whilst also delivering a fantastic Christmas shopping experience!

Enchanting Christmas Lights at Dunham Massey

Celebrate the festive season with a visit to Dunham Massey’s spectacular Christmas event. This must-see attraction in the UK’s festive calendar is illuminated with twinkling lights and giant glowing deer, creating a magical atmosphere.

Dunham Massey Family Christmas Events is always a winner

The event features new light and sound installations, including colour-changing batons and tunnels of stars. Running from November 17 to December 31, with food, drink, and fairground rides available, this one-mile trail promises an unforgettable experience for families. With wheelchair and mobility scooter access, and calmer sessions for those sensitive to sound and light, it’s an inclusive Christmas adventure supporting the conservation of Dunham Massey.

And, if you want to make more of a day of it, head out to Dunham Massey early and visit one of our family’s favourite ice cream parlours across the whole of Cheshire – the Dunham Massey Ice Cream farm, just a few minutes drive from the National Trust property.

Enjoy a Christmas Carol Singalong Event at the Bridgewater Hall

Mark your calendars for a heartwarming Christmas Carol Singalong on Christmas Eve at 3:00 PM. Led by the charismatic Jonathan Cohen, this event promises to be a family-friendly extravaganza, perfect for getting into the Christmas spirit.

head to the Bridgewater Hall for this Christmas Event

Sing along to a merry mix of classic holiday tunes and beloved Christmas carols with arguably this being the standout musical Christmas event of 2023. From the cheerful ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘White Christmas’ to the festive favourites like ‘Sleigh Ride’ and ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town,’ and not forgetting the timeless carols ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,’ this event is an unmissable addition to your Christmas festivities.

Stockport Festive Fayre Extravaganza: Music, Food, and Holiday Shopping”

Experience one of Stockport’s biggest Christmas events with the full joy of Christmas at this Festive Fayre hosted at Stockport Town Hall on 7 December 2023 with a delightful evening filled with holiday cheer. Perfect for last-minute gift shopping, the fayre features a wide range of stalls offering unique gifts. Add to the festive mood with an array of delicious food, uplifting festive music, and a charity raffle supporting Wellspring Stockport.

Enjoy live performances by the Phoenix Handbell Ringers, followed by The Stopchordians led by Louise Ellinson from the Halle Orchestra. The evening will be rounded off by the Stockport Music Service Electric Strings. Join us from 17:00 to 19:00 for a heartwarming celebration of the holiday spirit!

Check Out Bramall Hall’s Elf Trail

Be sure to check out the Christmas Elf Trail at Bramall Hall.

Situated on the outskirts of Bramhall and managed by Stockport Borough Council, Bramall Hall hosts various events year-round, with the Elf Trail being a special Christmas attraction. The trail costs £6.50 per adult and £3.00 per child, a reasonable fee given the effort put into the event.

Visitors explore the historical house, finding eleven elves and solving an anagram from letters each elf holds. The beautifully decorated mansion offers a magical Christmas experience, complete with historical insights like a priest hole from the Tudor period.

Beyond the trail, Bramall Hall boasts parkland, a playground, and a café, providing a full day’s entertainment. The article concludes by encouraging readers to visit the Bramall Hall Elf Trail for a memorable family experience during the festive season.

Join the Festive Fun in Manchester!

As the Christmas season sparkles on the horizon, we invite you to embrace the joy and magic of Christmas in Manchester with any of these Christmas events. From the twinkling lights of Dunham Massey to the joyful melodies at Bridgewater Hall, there’s an adventure for everyone. Don’t just read about it – experience it! Gather your loved ones, make new traditions, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Share your festive experiences with us and stay tuned for more thrilling events by following our blog and social media and let us know which is your favourite Christmas event! Or are there any Christmas events we’ve not included that you think should be included?

Let’s make this Christmas in Manchester a celebration to remember. Are you ready to dive into the heart of the holiday season? Let the merry-making begin!


  • Richard

    Hi! I’m Rich, co-founder and writer behind Lets Go Manchester. I grew up in Bournemouth but have been living up here for almost 10 years. I now find myself exploring Manchester and the surrounding counties with my amazing wife and two gorgeous kids.

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