Christmas is a magical time not only for the presents and turkey dinner but also for the many wonderful festive activities leading up to the big day. In Manchester there is no shortage of things to do but during the festive season there are a couple of things you simply can’t miss out on…
What once started as a passion project in its founders’ very own back garden, Backyard Cinema has now grown to be one of the leading alternative cinema experiences in the UK. Based upon the idea of simply enjoying a film with your nearest and dearest, Backyard Cinema takes the enjoyment of film to a whole new level. After nearly a decade of reinventing what it means to watch a film and having now screened to over half a million customers, the team continue to look for ways to wow audiences and offer more than just the movies. This year, based at Depot Mayfield, guests are able to enjoy pop up food vendors and a full bar in a heated, christmassy space before enjoying their chosen film. There is everything from Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Love actually and (what I went to see) The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Before the film you get to explore movie-grade sets on site and discover the unique Enchanted Forest and home of the Lost Theatre. What does that mean you say? Think live actors guiding you through mysterious rooms and through enchanted forests and snow covered corridors. Much like stepping into Narnia, when you enter Dr. Portelli’s Antiques & Curiosities you step into a whole new world. And it’s great for photos! Once you make your way through the maze you come to the vast cinema room where you are allocated your very own comfy beanbag chair. You get to lie almost fully reclined to watch the film as if you were slouched on your sofa at home, because is that not the best way to watch a film?
If a festive film isn’t quite your thing then head on over to the Winter Wonderland at Escape to Freight Island where there is a Christmas tree forest, pop-up winter market, festive food and drink traders, Christmas workshops, live DJs, entertainment, performances and much more. Make sure to get a mug of their Manchester famous Vimto mulled wine and hog roast (my personal favourites) but I was also impressed with the hot chocolate which you assemble yourself from a choice of delicious, locally-made toppings. Try a turkey and cranberry grilled cheese from the legendary Northern Soul or keep things classical with a cocktail from The Jayne Eyre Cocktail Bar.
You can also sign up for wreath and candle-making classes and not forgetting the little ones there will be a Santa’s Grotto, pop-up pantomimes and a whole host of entertainment throughout the month right up until Christmas Eve.