There's all sorts to do in Manchester! Top ten highlights for the school summer holidays

School’s out for the summer! 

That means now’s the time for the whole family to get out and about to enjoy the huge range of activities on offer in Manchester’s parks, libraries, leisure centres and galleries - with many  activities and facilities being completely free. is the place to go to find out about Manchester’s packed calendar of events suitable for children.  Here’s a “top ten” selection of highlights.  

1. Free Swimming

Free swimming is available for under-17s during any public swim session throughout the school holidays.  If you want to make a splash along with the 60,000 Mancunians who currently swim for free every year, visit for details of participating pools and sessions and how to register.

2. Summer Reading Challenge 

Get involved in free local library sessions hosted as part of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge - from dance workshops with Company Chameleon, meeting animals thanks to Zoolab, or even the chance to see a magic show!  

3. New inflatables sessions

Are you ready for the inflatable assault course at our new Aqua Splash sessions at East Manchester Leisure Centre and Manchester Aquatics Centre?  The activity is suitable for children aged eight years and above, who must be competent swimmers if attending without an adult.

4. Textile Time Hop at Manchester Art Gallery 

Go on a free Textile Time Hop to meet artists and see textile artworks from different decades. Test out making techniques including collage and weaving.  The youngest visitors can enjoy the early years studio, where they can experiment with pattern and colour.  Sessions run throughout the holidays.

5. Urban Rider at HSBC UK National Cycling Centre

Over three days, you will get to ride both BMX and Mountain Bikes, starting with basics MTB & BMX skills and working up to a ride on our Clayton Vale MTB trail and tackling our 5m BMX Start Hill. Suitable for 8 – 16 year olds, who can ride a bike stood up. Attendance is required on all 3 days (12noon - 3pm).

6. Love Exploring App

Use the free app to follow a Fairy Trail or Dinosaur Safari in parks including Heaton, Wythenshawe and Alexandra.  Visit your App Store for details and check out the compatibility guide, to make sure your phone supports Augmented Reality.

7. Sailing at Debdale Outdoor Centre

Did you know that Manchester has its own purpose-built outdoor centre?  With activities including windsurfing, kayaking and indoor climbing, there’s something on offer for people of all ages and abilities.  Multi-activity courses take place throughout the school holidays, for ages 7 – 17

8. ‘Lakeside Adventure’ play area and Tree Top Trek at Heaton Park

Lakeside Adventure officially opened to local families this month.  The new play area for Heaton Park provides free, challenging and creative play features in a woodland environment - including swings, slides, tree houses, balancing logs and in-ground trampolines, plus materials for children to build their own wooden dens.    

Tree Top Trek at Heaton Park offers a truly unique high ropes experience for your fearless adventurers. Up to a jaw-dropping height of 15m, children can  weave through the tree canopy across obstacles including balance bars, swinging logs and Indiana bridges, along with thrilling zip lines.  Zip Trek, Mini Trek and Treetop Nets activities are available for children of different ages (r).

9. Central Library - Archives +

Central Library's Archives+ exhibition area offers a free, unique way to engage with Manchester's past.  Interactive touch screens explore different themes, alongside actual items from our fascinating historic collections.  Why not bring the family along to dig in to the History of Manchester - who knows what you will find? 

10. Festival of Manchester, Platt Fields Park (31 August) 

A one-day event showcasing all that makes our diverse, vibrant city a great place to live, work and play.  The Festival of Manchester features entertainment, activities, music, sport and food.  Come and experience all that Manchester’s many cultures and communities have to offer.

Major Manchester attractions such as the Museum of Science and Industry, National Football Museum and Manchester Museum will also all be offering lots of activities for families all summer long. 

Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “We’re fortunate to have such incredible parks, leisure facilities, libraries and galleries in Manchester and are pulling out all the stops to make sure that children citywide have loads of free opportunities to participate, learn, get active and most importantly have fun throughout the holidays.”

To find out more about what’s going on in your area, go to

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