Free events for the kids
Kids can find joy in all sorts of activities at Christmas, but the difference at the Arndale is that it won’t cost you a penny to get involved in our special schedule of festive fun.
Visit Candy Cane Central on the upper mall (near The Works) to join in.
Some sessions are bookable and we reccomend booking ahead. All activities are available for walk-in, on a first-come-first-served basis until that session has reached capacity.
Book your session now
Learn to dance with Eli the Elf
Make show-stopping seasonal dance videos for TikTok, get kitted-out from the fancy dress box and learn dance routines to your favourite Christmas songs – all with the help of Eli the Elf and his team!
Thursday 1st December
Friday 9th December
Thursday 15th December
Silent Storytime with Santa
Settle down to a very special story, read by the main man himself! Think of the event like a Silent Disco – each child will be given headphones so they can listen to the story without being distracted by the other wonderful goings on in Candy Cane Central.
Sunday 4th December
Saturday 10th December
Paint a Parent
Little ones will get the chance to give their parent or guardian a festive makeover in our Paint a Parent sessions, with a professional face painter on hand to help of course! When the kids are done getting creative, there’ll be plenty of time to get their own face painted.
Saturday 3rd December
Friday 16th December
Christmas Craft Club
Our Christmas Craft Club will host a rotation of fun artistic activities, offering you the chance to make Christmas creations that you can gift or take home at the end! Whether it’s making Christmas decorations and cards, or making fun Christmas masks and decorating a Gingerbread house – there’s something for all ages to enjoy.
Friday 2nd December
Saturday 17th December
Thursday 22nd December
Candy Cane Cinema
Settle down to a selection of entertainment in our pop-up cinema, with everything from Baby Sensory sessions and sing-a-long short films, to world cinema and independent films. Pull up a bean bag, pop on your headphones and enjoy a few treats along the way.
Sunday 4th December
Sunday 11th December
Sunday 18th December
Santa’s Silent Disco
Join us as we boogie on down to some Christmas classics at Santa’s Silent Disco. Grab one of our headphone sets and make sure you have your dancing shoes ready. Fancy dress is welcome!
Friday 23rd December
Curious Candy Concoctions
Enter into a world of imagination and create picture perfect moments as you experiment with yummy food. Straight out of the World of Willy Wonka, join our Bubble Volcano session and watch as a cascading volcano of edible bubbles float upwards for you to bite right out of the air. Or join our Instant Logopop Maker session and make your very own Manchester Arndale chocolate lollipop. They’re dangerously delicious!
Wednesday 21st December
Baby Sensory Yoga & Massage
Join us for Sensory Baby Yoga & Massage with calming sounds and scents for babies aged 8 weeks – 12 months old.
Thursday 24th November (12pm-1:30pm)
Friday 16th December (10am-12pm)
Sunday 18th December (10am-12pm)
Every Tuesday between 10am and 12pm, Candy Cane Central hosts a special SEND session for children with special educational needs and disabilities. This includes:
- The option to enjoy Santa’s VR Sleigh Ride without using the VR headset, plus free rides for carers accompanying children
- Lower-lighting and no music or unnecessary sound in Candy Cane Central
- No general public walk-ins, pre-bookings only
- The opportunity to enjoy a short film and craft session free of charge, with activities specially chosen for children with special educational needs and disabilities
On top of all the wonderful activities to discover at the Candy Cane Central, visitors to Manchester Arndale can enjoy a series of exciting performances that will roam through the centre and out onto the city’s streets in the run up to Christmas 2022.
Festive Sundays will see roaming puppets, supersized penguins and illuminated bands take to the Arndale and surrounding streets.
On 13 & 20 November watch an array of performances, including a roaming Snow Globe, Living Lampposts, Mirror Men, Snow Fox Stilt Walkers, Penguins, Crumpet the Elf, Fat Cat Brass Band – and Spark! light-up band, combining LED lighting with beautiful costumes, choreography, and high impact drumming.
Sunday 13th November, 1pm – 7pm
Sunday 20th November, 12pm – 7pm
Manchester Arndale, Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, Exchange Street, St Ann’s Square, King Street and Deansgate
On 11 & 18 December you will be able to spot Christmas Crackers, Sugar Plum Fairies, Toy Soldiers and a Fairy Mouse, with Sunday 11 December also including an extra special festive first for Manchester. Still under wraps at the moment, with more details set to be revealed very soon, a not-to-be missed city centre Christmas treat for everyone is promised.
Sunday 11th December, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm
Manchester Arndale, Market Street, St Mary’s Gate, Deansgate, St Ann’s, Cross Street
Sunday 18th December, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm
Manchester Arndale, Market Street
For more information click here.