Wet weekend – North West family ideas

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Royal Exchange Family Sundays, Manchester City Centre


Flying Saucers family friendly events and activities for under 11s – different each week, so check the website and book your place online. Storytelling, drama, music, arts and crafts, creative movement – something for everyone. Some sessions are drop in and some need tickets to be booked at £3 a child. Check on line. We have been to Nicola Worthington’s storytelling for babies and it was excellent value, really well resourced. Cake in the cafe wasn’t bad either!

Z-Arts Hulme, Manchester


Z-Arts is a creative space for all people – young, old, babies, families, schools –  providing the community and families with a multitude of opportunities to be creative. For £18 a year, family membership gets you into heaps of free activities throughout term-time. In addition to this there are theatre performances throughout the year which are paid, ticketed events – at reasonable prices.

Weekends see a host of activities – you could spend all day Saturday there just going from class to class – ballet, street dance, Art, Capoeira, film club, yoga – the list goes on. Family membership is well worth it, and you can get a decent brew (and cake) at the cafe.

Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool


Learn about the port of Liverpool, uncover the treasures of the Titanic, for exhibitions and installations – see website. Hands on activities for kids of all ages ensure everyone is engaged in a trip to this amazing museum. Entry is free and opening hours are 10-4.30 every day (seasonal opening applies – see website).

Super Saturdays at Oldham Art Gallery


Creative family fun on the first Saturday of every month – drop in activities so there is no need to book. All of the activities are FREE and run from 12-4. Check dates and what’s on using web-site.

Go Baby sessions are on Thursday mornings – email Laura.ferguson@oldham.gov.uk

Go Explorers sessions are on Friday and you must book online (£3.50)

Holiday activities take place throughout school holidays in the afternoon – mostly they are free – check web-site for whats on

Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester City Centre


Family events at the Whitworth – informal, drop-in for trying out ideas and playing with materials every weekend. When dry this often includes using the outdoors and spilling into the beautiful Whitworth Park. Different sessions each week – check web-site for what is on. Totally FREE.

Mondays – toddler Art Club (Free but book online in advance)

Wednesdays – baby Art / baby Music (Free but book online in advance)

Liverpool Museums, Liverpool City Centre


Variety of free family activities are available throughout the weekends – hands on workshops and sessions within the Planetarium. Check the website for what they have on offer on the dates you choose. For some sessions you need to book in advance.

Eureka Museum, Halifax


Eureka is the National Children’s Museum and well worth a visit – there is absolutely tons to do in this hands-on experience which will keep little people busy all day. The target age range is 0-11.

Tickets may be £12 per person (children aged 1-2 are £4.25 and those under 1 go free) BUT this is an annual pass and so your tickets last for 12 months.

Shake Rattle and Roll at Band on the Wall, Manchester City Centre (Northern Quarter)

Band on the Wall is transformed on Saturday mornings into a place for babies, toddlers and parents to sing, dance and play. A wonderful way to spend an hour £5 Per family, no need to book, just turn up at either 10 or 11. They even have loyalty cards and endless tea coffee and biscuits. Rita LOVES this session – especially REM’s Shiny Happy People. Email Andrea@brightersound.com or find them on FB

Parkrun Junior, various venues countrywide


Whatever the weather, Parkrun offer free timed 5km runs for adults, children, families and dogs! They take place at 9 o’clock on Saturday mornings across the country. In addition to this, some venues off a 2km Junior run on Sundays. To find out more about where they take place, how to register or volunteer or just get involved – check out the website. Children do complete in the 5km races but rarely younger than 5 years old. Park run offer an excellent way for families to start the weekend with something active and can be as competitive as you like – or just for fun.

Hyde Leisure Pool, Greater Manchester


This pool is great for little ones with a wave machine, lazy river, jacuzzi, beach style shallow waters and a tube slide (with height restrictions). It does get busy at the weekend and I would suggest getting there early. There is family changing and a cafe for a brew afterwards. In term time sessions on Saturday are 11.15-4 and on Sunday they are 9-4. Times change during the school holidays, please always check online or by ringing up before you go.

Silver Blades Ice-rink Altrincham, Greater Manchester 


Silver blades offer family skate sessions on both Saturday and Sunday, and also parent and toddler sessions on Saturday morning. Times and prices vary – please check website and book in advance. Please also be aware that the timetable in school holidays is different to term time. In addition to these sessions there are learn to skate sessions for children from toddler to teenagers.

For more information, details or advice either check the website or call 08700852929

Velocity Trampoline Park, Widnes, Merseyside


Open 10-9 every day of the week. Free Bounce hour long sessions allow you to bounce around on over 90 interconnected trampolines in the free jump zone including foam pit, basketball court and dodgeball.

Most Free Bounce weekend sessions are £9 for the first hour and £5 for any extra hours BUT you must book online in advance where pricing is clear.

Velocity is appropriate for children aged 4+

In addition to Free Bounce you can get involved with Extreme Dodgeball, Velocity Fitness and Friday night Disco! Varying age restrictions apply on all of these sessions – please see website for details.

The Lowry Gallery inside theatre building, Salford Quays, Greater Manchester


In addition to the fabulous programme of events in the Lowry theatre, there is also upstairs Art exhibitions and hands-on creative learning experiences for the whole family. There is a permanent Lowry display where adults and children alike can complete their own drawings of Lowry’s work for the postcard gallery.

Lookout it’s Saturday Playhouse – free and weekly art activities for children and their families in dedicated Lookout Space.

Under 5s first steps and doodletots take place on Fridays – book your place in advance. There are also specific workshops and classes for teenaged children running throughout the year – book online.

Bolton Museum


Family events – Super Saturdays. Free activities 11-3.30. Check online for programme of events and up to date calendar.

Sale Waterside Arts Centre


Family Club offers action-packed arty fun and membership per family is just £5 a year which gets you into Saturday Family Club and gives you exclusive offers on famIly shows and events. Saturday morning sessions include story-telling, circus skills, drumming and more (50p per child). Although sessions are drop in 10.30-12.30 they are also first come first servd and are suitable aged 4+ with an adult.

The North Face West Indoor Climbing Centre, Warrington


Open at weekends 10-6 under 18s must be accompanied by a registered adult. Sessions require you to be registered and to either own or hire the relevant equipment. It is advisable to look up all of these costings online prior to going. Lessons are available for those who are not competent climbers. This is great fun for children and adults of all ages but if you are planing to go regularly it is cheaper to buy rather than hire the necessary equipment.

Underwater Street, Liverpool City Centre


Underwater Street is brilliant because once you have paid the entrance feel all of activities are covered and you pay for nothing. Plus, whatever your kids make, you get to take home. There is a cafe to sit and enjoya coffee   or to buy lunch from. I would recommend booking and getting there early as it always gets busy!

There are seasonal and topical themes to the activities which include arts and crafts, dress up and role play, scientific experiments, dance and drama. There is someone for everyone and kids will be entertained for hours here.

LegoLand Discovery Centre, Trafford Park, Greater Manchester


It is worth noting that tickets are up to 40% cheaper when booked in advance online. In addition to this, the later in the day you go, the cheaper your tickets will be. Whilst LegoLand is worth a visit, it’s not (in my opinion) a whole day out and you can definitely go for a few hours later on in the day and take advantage of the online deals.

There are all kinds of attractions, activities, rides (height restrictions apply) and hands-on experiences which are heaven for any young Lego lovers. I would advise checking out what there is via the website and consider the age of your children and what they will be able to do prior to going.

Brookside Garden Centre Poynton


Alongside being a garden centre and having a great cafe with fab ice-cream Brookside has a miniature railway for families to ride on, a craft shop and a lovely paint a pot workshop. Items are reasonably priced and little ones can take as long as they like to paint their chosen figurine or pot. These can robe ready to take away on the day or you can leave in to glaze. We have had great fun here – adults and children alike!

CBBC Interactive tour, BBC Salford Quays


Children aged between 6-11 who love CBBC will love this experience – have a go at being a presenter and discover what goes on behind the scenes. Tour lasts 90 minutes and children must be accompanied by an adult. Booking online is essential!

Rollercity Rochdale


The North West’s Premier Roller Skating Centre.  Annual membership is £4 and then sessions are £6 on top. Skates go from child size 6 up to adult size 13. Public skate at the weekends in term time is Saturdays 11-5 and 7-10, Sundays 11-5, 5-7. There is a spectator charge of £2 and there are also skating lessons available.

Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight


A beautiful building housing one of the UK’s finest collections of fine and decorative art. For information on exhibitions please see website. Open daily 10-5 with free entry, check out the what’s on guide for family activities prior to going as this programme makes use of the activity rooms which have even designed specifically for children and families.

Light Cinema New Brighton


Family AM every Saturday and Sunday from 10am – ticket prices from just £3. There are also baby friendly and autism friendly showings. Free tea or coffee with each ticket for adults.

For my guide to Christmas pantos in the North-West click here:


For my guide to visiting Santa, what’s in it for adults click here:



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