* individual retailer opening times may vary


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)


SEND sessions

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


Festive Sundays

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.