LET'S be honest, come December and most of us have had our fill of the Christmas Markets - but what else is there to do in the run up to Christmas? Shop? Nah. Work? In December? Pah. And we can't spend all month in the boozer, can we? No.
Well, better get along to some of this lot then...
THE FROST FAIR | The Whitworth | 3-4 December
Unless you’ve been in hibernation these past few weeks, you’ll know the word of the moment is ‘hygge’ - enjoying winter the Danish way with life’s little pleasures. The Whitworth’s Scandinavian wonderland-themed Frost Fair promises the cosy concept (apparently pronounced ‘hoo-gah’) in spades, with a free weekend of events spanning live music to an outdoor cinema in the Art Garden and an environmentally-friendly ice rink. More here.
The Whitworth, Oxford Road, M15 6ER (11am-7pm; free).
FAULTY TOWERS: THE CHRISTMAS DINING EXPERIENCE | The Lowry | 4-7 December
If you’re a stickler for good service, best look away now: when you’re dining at ‘Faulty Towers’, pretty much anything can happen – especially with two thirds of the show improvised. The fun starts as guests wait to be seated in this immersive improvisation; before hurtling along at full pelt as Basil, Sybil and Manuel serve a seventies-style three-course dinner. We predict a riot.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ (1.30pm and 7pm; tickets £49.50 at thelowry.com).
A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS EVENING | Elizabeth Gaskell’s House | Tuesday 6 December
There’s nothing quite like a festive jaunt down Memory Lane, particularly when it’s in the former home of one of our famous Victorian writers. The atmospheric eve is bookmarked by a talk on Victorian Christmas customs and carols round the drawing room piano, with seasonal refreshments and a dramatised reading of Gaskell’s Christmas Storms and Sunshine in between. The event is just one in a series of Victorian-themed programme at the Grade II listed property - also including a decoration workshop and Lip Service’s Giddy about Gaskell.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove, M13 9LW (7-9.30pm; tickets £12 at quaytickets.com).
KEY 103 CHRISTMAS LIVE | Manchester Arena | Friday 9 December
Robbie Williams rocks into Manchester this year as Key 103’s annual concert headliner, performing tracks from new album The Heavy Entertainment Show. He’ll be joined by X Factor 2015 winner Louisa Johnson, Blossoms, Sigma, Sigala, Jonas Blue and Busted (who are apparently back together - who knew?)
Manchester Arena, Victoria Station, Hunts Bank, M3 1AR (7.30pm; tickets from £29.90 at eventim.co.uk).
BAD FUN: MIRACLE ON BEAT STREET | B.Eat Street | Friday 9 December
They’re making a list, they’re checking it twice, the guest list consists of naughty not nice… Bad Fun is indeed returning to town. The disco dandies behind last month's debauchery at the Nightmare on B.eat Street bring us their next decadent do; featuring the best of disco, house and groove. Wreck the halls, drown yourself in glitter and indulge your alter ego at BAD FUN - The Alternative Christmas party. You might even meet Bad Santa himself...
B.Eat Street, The Brick House, Deansgate Mews, M3 4LP (10pm-3am; tickets from £5 at skiddle.com).
POP-UP CINEMA | Victoria Baths | 9-10 December
When details were released of The Village Green’s pop-up cinema at Victoria Baths, the novelty of sitting in a deckchair watching Christmas comedies in the Grade II-listed building’s empty swimming pool wasn’t lost on Manchester - tickets sold out faster than you could say ‘Home Alone.’ Fortunately, a matinee performance of Elf has since been added and there are still tickets available. The event kicks off with festive tunes, street food from Dim Sum Su and Proove Pizza and a fully-stocked bar before the film begins at 4pm. After more Christmas classics? Don’t miss Gremlins and The Grinch at Gorilla.
Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock, M13 OFE (2.30pm; tickets from £11.55 at gigantic.com).
A VERY EIGHTIES CHRISTMAS | HOME | 9-22 December
Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like a cheesy eighties flick for getting into the Yuletide spirit. Even if just to marvel at the dodgy special effects. With that in mind, curator Jeni Hall has gathered some of the era’s family favourites; from Back to the Future to The Dark Christmas and Little Shop of Horrors. As Hall points out, ‘after almost 30 years, they still have a watchability that today’s low-risk blockbusters just don’t have.’
HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, M15 4FN (various times and prices; check the website).
AMERICAN SITCOM CHRISTMAS MIXTAPE | Central Library | 15 December
While we’re on the subject of naff Noel viewing, Pilot Light’s American TV sitcom special is must. Jumping along a decade to the nineties onwards, expect the likes of Friends (the one with Ross as an armadillo), Scrubs (My Own Personal Jesus) and Simpsons 'Roasting on an Open Fire'. Plus, of course, The Office Christmas Party. Mince pies and ‘festive treats’ included.
Central Library, St Peter's Square, M2 5PD (5.30pm-8pm; tickets £2 at librarylive.co.uk).
THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE | 53Two| 16-24 December
And now for some theatre with a touching adaptation of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s wartime poem, based on one of the most famous events in modern history. It’s 1914 on The Western Front. Soldiers on both sides huddle in the trenches, trying to stave off the winter cold. Then something remarkable happens, as the Christmas approach brings goodwill on an unprecedented scale and the enemies realise they have more in common than ever imagined. A heart-warmer for all the family.
53Two, 8 Albion Street, Park Avenue Car Park, M1 5NZ (3pm & 7pm; tickets £12 from tickettailor.com).
ELF CHRISTMAS HOUSE PARTY | Albert Hall | Saturday 17 December
Where do we start? The screening of Elf with ‘rave sing-along’ and circus, the Christmas beer festival and food hall, the spaghetti eating competition, the live band, the Glory Hole grotto (no doubt with an ‘elfy decking of mistletoe), the mince pies and mulled wine...? Well, you get the gist. Unsurprisingly, they’re promising ‘the loudest and most festive Christmas house party this side of the Arctic Circle.’
Albert Hall, 27 Peter Street, M2 5QR (7pm; tickets from £13.20 at alberthall.seetickets.com).
THE MANCHESTER FESTIVE HAPPENING | Albert Hall | Sunday 18 December
If you’re after something a bit more refined, Sunday sees the Wesleyan chapel host Manchester Camerata’s annual concert. Trumpet sensation Tine Thing Helseth leads a talented orchestra for a programme of festive favourites, culminating in another feel-good sing-along. With the hall’s unique acoustics, no doubt it’ll be music to the ears in more ways than one.
Albert Hall, 27 Peter Street, M2 5QR (3pm; tickets at bridgewater-hall.co.uk).
BIG CHRISTMAS CRACKER | Hope Mill Theatre | 19-23 December
‘A cabaret of naughty and nice’, this is an all-singing, all-dancing affair that’s strictly for the adults - spliced with comedy and burlesque. Larger parties can book ‘premier’ £80 cabaret tables complete with mince pies and fizz - making for a handy office shindig if you’ve not sorted yours yet. Otherwise, individual tickets cost £15.
Hope Mill Theatre, 113 Pollard Street, M4 7JA (8pm & 9pm; tickets from 15 at ticketsource.co.uk).
CHRISTMAS DRIVE-IN | Old Trafford | 21-23 December
Another cinema experience scoring extra novelty points, Atoozee’s Christmas drive-in lets you go to the movies al fresco (kind of). Park up under the stars and enjoy Muppet Christmas Carol, Die Hard, Elf or Home Alone - yes, those two chestnuts again - from the comfort of your car on a 100sqm screen. Forgot the snacks? Santa’s little helpers will be serving up traditional German schwenkgrill, hot chocolate and crepes.
Old Trafford, Sir Matt Busby Way, Stretford, M16 0RA (various times; tickets 26 per car at christmasdrivein.co.uk).
CHRISTMAS BARREL OF LAUGHS | Frog & Bucket | Throughout December
‘Tis the season for merry-making and how better to do that than with a chuckle or few at Manchester’s comedy institution? Throughout December, Barrel of Laughs will see comedians like Kiri Pritchard, Tape Face and Jo Caulfield give the popular night a sprinkle of seasonal cheer. You can even enjoy a Christmas dinner as you’re watching - just no choking on yer sprouts.
Frog & Bucket, 102 Oldham Street, M4 1LJ (8.30pm, doors open 7pm; tickets from £17 at frogandbucket.com).
THE SNOWMAN | Bridgewater Hall | 20-21 December
There’s nowhere that does Christmas quite like Bridgewater; a glance at December’s lineup reveals everything from the Greater Manchester Police Trumpeters to Spanish baroque flamenco fusion. But there’s nothing quite like The Snowman to unite generations and warm even the coldest of hearts. As per tradition, Raymond Briggs’ animated classic will be accompanied by a live Hallé performance of Howard Blake’s iconic score.
Bridgewater Hall, Lower Mosley Street, M2 3WS (various times and prices; check the website).