Manchester gets into the spirit of Halloween with ten days of frighteningly good family fun

Whisk the family into Manchester this half term for plenty of tricks and treats at Halloween in the City as the city centre hosts the UK’s spookiest selection of events and attractions.

Halloween in the City
Halloween in the City

From 21-31 October, Manchester’s first ever Halloween in the City event, coordinated by Manchester’s Business Improvement District, the Heart of Manchester BID, and sponsored by Party Delights, promises one hell of a Halloween with a frightful array of on-street entertainment and free events.

From 21 October the city gets into the spooky swing of things with over 4000 pumpkin lanterns standing guard in the trees from the shopping district to the Corn Exchange, Spinningfields, Manchester Central and Great Northern Warehouse. As the dark nights draw in follow the eerie glow across the city as Manchester Town Hall, Selfridges, House of Fraser, Harvey Nichols, Manchester Arndale, Manchester Central, National Football Museum, Mediacom, The Lowry and Lancashire Country Cricket light-up green in honour of Halloween. And don’t miss the Halloween-themed window displays in the city’s shops too as they spread like a dark stain across the city centre.

House of Fraser, Manchester
House of Fraser, Manchester

On 28-30 October, Market Street will undergo a terrifying transformation with imposing cemetery gates appearing overnight, accompanied by a spooky sound trail featuring wolves and witches. On Saturday 29 October, Halloween celebrations will reach fever pitch as the city’s shopping district becomes packed full of spine-tingling free family-friendly Halloween activities including an animatronic spider which will stalk the streets, appearances by friendly ghosts and gothic characters and an amazing one-off adventure with Wild Rumpus’ Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shopan intriguing and mysterious establishment that can only be accessed after families have scoured the city to solve the code to gain entry.

Secret Curiosity Shop
Secret Curiosity Shop

Museums and venues across the city are also cooking up plans to help families mark the passing of Halloween including costume parades, discos and more. For more information visit


Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shop

Manchester City Centre, Saturday 29 October 10am – 4pm. FREE. NO BOOKING REQUIRED.  

Dr Dee : Credit Nomad Creative Studio 2
Dr Dee : Credit Nomad Creative Studio 2

On Saturday 29 October, Halloween in The City and Wild Rumpus, producers of the award-winning Just So Festival invite families to a mysterious adventure across Manchester City Centre to find a code to unlock and enter the secret and spellbinding world of Dr Dee, Manchester’s most famous alchemist

Within the Manchester that you know so well lies Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shop, an intriguing and mysterious establishment which can be accessed for the first time in 421 years. But only to families who are prepared to scour the city and solve the code to gain entry to it, for one short day this Halloween.

Follow a haunting historic map to track down clues, surprising happenings and curious characters in unexpected places. Locations across the city centre will each deliver a clue to enable you to work out the password to access Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shop and maybe even meet the mysterious man himself.  Encounter mesmerising musicians at House of Fraser and amazing aerialists on New Cathedral Street.. Make magical masks at Paperchase and summon up the courage to meet The Fear Eater at Cath Kidston – let her consume your fears and banish them from this world.

Once the password is in your possession, unlock access throughout the day to Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shop, an intimate and spine tingling palace of curiosities that will change the way you see the city forever. Within it lies the strange and unusual world of Dr John Dee and the first chance in over 400 years to meet the man himself.  One of Manchester’s most famous and notorious residents and the greatest minds of the 16th century Dr Dee was an extraordinary renaissance scientist, magician, alchemist, astrologer, occultist, spy, advisor to Queen Elizabeth 1 and former warden of the college that is now Chetham’s Library.

Start your adventure now. See dressing up and reading inspiration at @_wildrumpus @halloweenMCR #DrDeeMcr. Join Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shop facebook group   and visit . Share your experiences and photos on the day to help others follow the trail and be in with the chance of winning a family ticket to Just So Festival 2017.

Dr Dee’s Secret Curiosity Shop takes place at various locations across the city from 10am with entry to the Secret Curiosity Shop throughout the day (follow the clues to gain the password to access it), last admission at 4pm. Suitable for all ages. Families should allow around 2 hours to discover all of the clues and expect to visit 7 locations across the city centre. Maps can be downloaded in advance at collected at locations across the city centre.

Market Street Cemetery Gates & Sound Trail

Friday 28 October – Sunday 30 October, Market Street, Free

Overnight, a sinister set of cemetery gates will appear on Market Street towering over shoppers as they pass onto the city’s most popular thoroughfare. Check out Manchester’s first spooky sound trail, if you dare…watch out for the sounds of wolves howling and witches cackling biting at your heels.

The Party Delights Spooky Selfie Mirror

Friday 28 October – Sunday 30 October, Market Street, Free

Take a spooky selfie with your mates in the Party Delights Halloween photo booth. Dive into the Halloween fancy dress box and pull your best freaky face for some sinister snaps you can take home and keep! Plus stock up on all your spooky essentials at the new Party Delights superstore on Manchester Fort retail park. With more Halloween than you can shake a witches broom at, including hundreds of costumes, decorations and trick or treat accessories, it’ll be a party your ghosts and ghouls will never forget!

Family Travelling Light Circus presents: Creatures of the Crypt

Saturday 29 October, 12pm-5pm, Market Street, Deansgate, Free

Market Street becomes Market Creep as the nights draw in and creatures of the cemetery come out to play. Pass the gatekeeper and guarding grave diggers to enter into an underworld of gothic characters.

The Spider Attacks!

Saturday 29 October, 12pm- 5pm, moving between St. Ann’s Square, New Cathedral Street, Exchange Square, Free

Arachnophobes look away now – a giant, animatronic spider stalks the shopping streets. And it’s looking for families to play with. Keep an eye out for this ten-foot monster as you’re out and about. Don’t worry, though. He won’t bite.

New Orleans Funeral March

Saturday 29 October, Market Street, Free

Join the procession and follow traditional Deep South sounds and rhythms as it moves through the city centre. Hymns and dirges break loose into hot jazz and dancing, as we celebrate life (and death) with music.

Halloween Face Painting
Saturday 29 October, 11am-5pm, Market Street, Free

Dr Dees Curiosity Shop
Dr Dees Curiosity Shop

Free face painting for your little ghouls, goblins and ghosts. 

Shaune Harrison Academy Movie Make-Overs

Saturday 29 October & Sunday 30 October, 12-5pm, Market Street, Free

Prosthetics magicians from the Shaune Harrison Academy showcase their movie makeovers in spectacular spooky style. The team from the state-of-the-art academy at MediaCity has worked on some of the biggest films in history: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Captain America, Avengers: Age of Ultron, World War Z and Sleepy Hollow to name a few. Discover the tricks of their trade.


While every effort has been made to ensure information regarding partner events is correct, please check with individual event organisers before setting out.

National Football Museum: Tricks for Treats

Saturday 22 October – Monday 31 October, 10am – 5pm, National Football Museum

Get your little ghouls taking goals for a Penalty Piñata, show-off best horror-movie voices in the Creepy Commentary challenge and dress-up for Ghost Training: a chance to practice otherworldly keepie-uppies. There’s freestyling wizard John Farnworth and Monster Making art too, where kids can craft badges of their favourite, and most frightening, footballers – Robin Vampire-sie or Phil Bones

Manchester City Football Club: Spooky Stadium and Club Tour

Monday 24 October – Sunday 30 October, Etihad Stadium, Adults £17.00, Concessions £12.00, 

Under 16 £11.00

Treat the kids to something truly spooktacular this half-term as Manchester City Football Club introduce a special Spooky Stadium & Club Tour.  Families are invited to the award-winning Etihad Stadium & Club Tour in their scariest fancy dress outfits for the chance to win a special treat for best dressed monster.If you hold your nerve and complete all of the Halloween games including a ghastly bucket challenge, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a family ticket to City vs. Middlesbrough on Saturday 5th November.All this runs alongside exclusive access to the First Team dressing room and Pep Guardiola’s seat in the Press Conference room. From here, guests emerge pitchside through the players’ tunnel, before taking their seats in the dugout. It’s not all terror though, forget your fears with a chance to meet a friendly face on your tour where a famous fan favourite Club mascot will be on hand for photos and fun.

Tours run daily: 9.00-17.00 (Sunday 10.00-16.00)

Z-Arts: Monsters vs. Trolls Flashmob

The Printworks, Monday 24 October, 12-4pm, Free

Tiny ones! Dust off your dancing shoes for an afternoon of thrilling Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake inspired moves to mark the passing of Halloween. Face painters and props will be on hand to transform little ones and their families into tiny monsters and terrible trolls. Fancy dress encouraged! The flashmob will be led by Monster and Troll dancers who will be throwing terrifyingly good shapes at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.

Ordsall Hall’s Spook-Tacular Party!

Wednesday 26 October, £5, Ordsall Hall

Join the ghostly inhabitants of Salford’s most haunted building for a special creepy party. With puzzles, riddles and challenges around the darkest corners of the Hall, it’s a Halloween experience for the whole family. Those who survive can take a breather in the café to share stories with fellow ghost hunters.

Ordsall Hall Ghost & History Tour

Thursday 27 October & Thursday 10 November, £5, tours at 7.30pm & 8pm, Ordsall Hall

Learn about the fascinating history of Ordsall Hall and the ghosts within. The hall is oldest building in Salford and 10th November is the 417th anniversary of the death of the woman who is the building’s most famous spectre – Lady Margaret Radclyffe, the White Lady. 

Central Library: Saturday Spooktacular

Saturday 29 October, 12-4pm, Manchester Central Library

Gather your ghouls, muster your monsters and fetch your fangs for an afternoon of freakish family fun. Central Library will be overrun with spine chilling spirits, fangtastic films in the BFI spook pods and a hoard of hocus pocus. Trick or treating throughout the afternoon, fancy dress (recommended) with prize for most original costume, plus free face painting.

Ziferblat: Pumpkin Carving Competition

Saturday 29 October – Monday 31 October, 8am-10pm, £3 to enter

Join in Northern Quarter café Ziferblat’s pumpkin carving competition to win 10 free hours of coffee and cake time.

Z-arts: Monster Mash Mixtape
Saturday 29 October, Z-arts
Head to Manchester’s best venue for families for an old-skool party for kids and their grown-ups, inspired by the 1990s rave scene. Ghosts, goblins and ghouls are invited to enjoy a monster mash-up of tunes, tricks and treats. Fancy dress a must.

The Whitworth: Halloween Family Funday

Sunday 30 October, 11am – 4pm, Free

The Whitworth is the University of Manchester’s newly transformed gallery in the park – a place to discover exceptional art in award winning spaces, inside and out. Head down with the family to explore and have fun creating spooky art. 

The Printworks & Horrorworld Productions present: Manchester Halloween Parade

Sunday 30 October, 4pm-6pm: registration at 4pm at The Printworks

£2 fee per person (50% to charity)

The UK’s one and only Halloween parade is back from the dead. The Printworks’ Zombie Walk transforms into the Manchester Halloween Parade as witches and wizards, gremlins and ghouls don their best costumes.

4pm-6pm. To join in the parade, registration is at 4pm at The Printworks, £2/per person (50% to charity). Spectating is free!

The Printworks: Hard Rock Café Little Monsters Ball

Sunday 30 October, 9am – 11am, Children £7.95 Adults £9.95, reservations only, call 0161 831 6700 to book.

Don your best fabulous fancy dress to enjoy a Halloween themed breakfast, face painting and lots of ghoulish games at Hard Rock Café: a rock ’n’ roll-themed chain with a high-energy vibe serving burgers & American classics.

Little Shop of Horrors

Monday 31 October – Saturday 5 November, Palace Theatre

A charming, kooky and hilarious musical cult classic. Seymour Krelborn, the assistant at Mushnik’s Flower Shop in downtrodden Skid Row, becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers a strange and exotic plant. He names it Audrey Two in order to impress glamorous Audrey, the colleague he’s secretly in love with.

Audrey Two quickly starts to wilt, putting Seymour’s job and dream future with Audrey at risk. Accidentally pricking his finger, Seymour discovers Audrey Two needs a little more than plant food to thrive. The plant grows into a bad-tempered, foul-mouthed carnivore whose voracious appetite becomes increasingly difficult to satisfy. How far will Seymour go for the woman of his dreams?…

Rhydian, will play sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello. Rhydian rose to fame as a runaway success on ITV’s X Factor.

The Heart of Manchester Business Improvement District

In 2013, more than 380 businesses in Manchester’s city centre retail core voted ‘yes’ to setting up the Heart of Manchester BID (Business Improvement District). The BID runs for five years and sees an extra £5 million invested in the city centre’s retail district to help Manchester retain and reinforce its standing as the leading retail destination outside London. Its business plan (agreed during an 18 month consultation period) is focused on delivering customer service and promotional initiatives aimed at increasing footfall and retail spend in city centre Manchester, as well as delivering operational and security support to assist businesses and enhance the trading environment. The BID also acts on behalf of retailers as a lobbying voice with the public sector.

During the last three years the BID has delivered major new events including summer garden festival Dig the City and worked with a number of city partners to upscale and evolve existing city centre events bringing in new footfall and increasing sales for retailers and businesses across the city’s retail district. These have included Manchester’s Chinese New Year celebrations, now widely acknowledged as the biggest celebrations in the UK outside of London, and two dedicated student shopping events in conjunction with Manchester Arndale – the MCR Student Night Out and MCR Student Spring Break.

2016-2017 will see the BID’s event programme double including The King Street Festival and One Big Summer Weekend which took place in May and July respectively. The BID is also planning a new Halloween celebration event to drive family footfall and shoppers during October.

The BID also funds a team of City Hosts to support the overall visitor experience to city centre Manchester. In the last 12 months alone the dedicated 24/7 team of hosts have welcomed over 130,000 visitors, averaging 45 welcomes every hour.


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