Our Favourite Things To Do at Christmas in Stockport and Manchester

We are a team who love and take advantage of some of the great things about winter and Christmas, particularly creative events and family time! Though there are bound to be some hard times around this time of year, particularly the last couple of years, we try to enjoy it as best we can, so we thought we’d share our favourite things to do at Christmas in Stockport (and (Greater) Manchester)!

Jacqui says she loves charity shop challenges and markets

My family and I love the Treacle Market in Macclesfield – we tend to go every month but the one before Christmas is my chance to get those last minute gifts, handmade, vintage or just a little different!

We also do a charity shop challenge on the weekend before Christmas, which is a bit like our secret Santa for the 4 of us. Each having a maximum budget of £2, we have to scour the local charity shops for the funniest, biggest or most appropriate gift for another family member. It’s amazing the things we’ve found and knowing that we’re buying pre-loved things which benefit others just adds to the Festive spirit.

Lucie says she loves magical light exhibitions

If we can’t take advantage of the shorter days, what’s the point of winter?! Every year my partner and I go to Lightopia, which is a really fun and beautiful exhibition of light sculptures in the dark at Heaton Park. It’s not free but they often do offers, particularly on remaining tickets for the new year. We also visit Lightwaves, another light exhibition of installations by various artists around Salford Quays / Media City, with a trip to Lark Hill Place, SMAG’s Victorian street dressed for Christmas on the way. Lightwaves is free, though not quite as an impressive or as big a show as Lightopia it’s still great! 

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Jane says she loves family time, panto and kid’s stuff!

My favourite thing to do at Christmas in Stockport is going to a panto at the Plaza with the family. I love listening to that first Xmas song on the radio. I love Christmas songs as they bring back so many nice memories. 

Christmas for me is about unwinding and take a slower pace. I tend to avoid over-planning at Christmas as I see it as a time to reflect on the year, be with the people who care above, and give myself permission to slow down.  However, I’m looking forward to making homemade baubles, cards and gifts with the children. It gives me the time to relax by creating and creating personal gifts. I love making homemade cards, tags, and wrapping presents up with Christmas music playing in the background. I also love receiving homemade gifts as they are priceless to me. I hope for snow every year – it brings out the kid in me as I get to build a snowman. I think I get more excited than the kids. 

This year I’ve seen that this is happening in Stockport which looks interesting, Stockport’s first augmented reality Christmas Trail “socially distanced festive fun for all the family.” 

Phill says he likes logging off and enjoying live music

Christmas for me is often the busiest time of year as there are normally gigs and shows almost every night of the week up to Christmas, so one things I like to do is turn everything off after my Christmas Eve gig and not even look at my email until the 3rd of January at the very earliest. If I do get some time off in the run-up to Christmas we really enjoy going into Manchester to the Christmas markets and also nipping into some of the many great venues where I can see my friends playing music.

I’d recommend:

Hannah says she likes a fresh and festive stroll through Lyme Park

I love walking in Lyme Park around Christmas, there’s always at least one day with beautiful light where it all looks fresh and crisp and beautiful up on the hill by The Cage. Seeing the deer is a brilliant festive bonus! The park is free to walk around but the gardens and house are nice too and sometimes have festive events on.


Nuala says she just loves Christmas, including meeting Santa, and singing all the songs!

This year I am having Breakfast with Santa at the Plaza with my three youngest children, which I have tried to book onto for several years and it’s always sold out, so I’m really pleased to be going, there might be others around the borough still with tickets available. I also love the build up to Christmas and seeing Christmas lights and decorations go up and hearing Christmas songs when I’m out and about. Little Drummer Boy, When a Child is Born and Fairytale of New York are all favourites but I’ll sing along to anything Christmassy.

Jo says she likes to go to a family show at the theatre, go to a family-friendly exhibition and immerse in Christmas trees!

Every Christmas my girls and I go to the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale to see the Christmas show (usually between Christmas and New Year to spread out the excitement!). We’ve enjoyed James and the Giant Peach, the Moomins, Mr Popper’s Penguins and many more over the years. The theatre is reasonably priced (lower-income tickets are available) and not too big, so has a lovely cosy and relaxed feel. They offer milk and cookies and kids often go to the evening show in their pjs! There is usually a little free exhibition on, which is nice to browse around too, this year it’s Postman Pat animation sets.

Our other favourite thing to do in the run-up is to visit the Christmas tree festival at St George’s Church on the a6 south of the town centre, opposite Stockport Crematorium – slightly closer to Davenport train station and not up a hill! A friend recommended it as the most magical thing to do and it really is! All around the church is a display of dozens of Christmas trees decorated by local organisations, each with a different theme. As well as enjoying the creativity it’s a lovely reminder of all the great community groups and local businesses around Stockport. There is usually entertainment throughout the festival, with choirs, music groups, a dancing school and a really charming little cafe area. This year it’s on from Wednesday November 24th to Sunday 28th. It’s £2.50 per adult and free for children. 

Annette loves watching a good festive film and creating her own greetings cards and gifts with family

I love making gifts and cards for Christmas. One of my favourite activities is joining friends or family, putting on some festive tunes and getting creative making block print designs in polystyrene sheets to create Xmas cards. Polystyrene quick print sheets can be purchased from most art shops (or reuse pizza bases!) and they are easy and fun to use by all age groups. Simple steps below or check out my previous blog post.

To create a simple print:

  1. Simply cut out a festive shape, such as a bauble or tree
  2. Add detail by drawing onto it in pencil/pen
  3. Paint a fine layer of paint onto the shape
  4. Press onto a blank card, using pressure with your hand
  5. Peel the block off the card to reveal the print
  6. For an extra festive touch, sprinkle a little glitter whilst it is still wet!

To really get into the festive spirit, I also love a Christmas film and am looking forward to going to see one of the many classic festive films on at The Light cinema in Stockport. I love their comfortable recliner seats and being able to order food and drink to enjoy whilst watching the film is a real luxury. 

And if that isn’t enough… Arc has its fun and creative festive event from 11:00-16:00 on November 27th! The Gallery Cafe is also open on Thursdays and Fridays until 16:00 on December 17th.

Fancy doing a public workshop or course at Arc? Check them out here!

If you’re struggling, please don’t hesitate to contact Mind, The Samaritans or even dial 999. Don’t be afraid to talk, we know for a fact friends and family are always ready to listen! And why not send through a referral to join one of our wellbeing programmes in 2022?

Hope to see you soon at Arc – where we can have a brew and perhaps sing a carol or two?!
By The Arc Team
November 24th, 2021