What's On in Lancashire - December 2021

 I Grew Up 80s is a celebration of objects from the 1980s

I Grew Up 80s is a celebration of objects from the 1980s, including these sweet packets - Credit: Scott Bairstow Photography

The best events in Lancashire this month.

Until December 4
Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky’s stirring score and Anthony Ward’s exquisite sets and costumes combine with Bourne’s choreography in a festively sweet interpretation of the classic ballet. Beautiful, irreverent and packed with trademark wit and magical fantasy, the story follows Clara’s journey from a Christmas Eve at Dr. Dross’ Orphanage, through a spectacular, ice-skating winter wonderland to Sweetieland, a delicious fantasy land, like stepping through the screen into the Hollywood musicals of the 1930s.
The Lowry, Salford, thelowry.com 

Until December 4
White Christmas
Irving Berlin's classic musical has had the West End treatment, bringing a new festive sparkle to favourite songs Blue Skies, Sisters, I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm and, of course, White Christmas. The story follows the Haynes Sisters, Betty & Judy to a Vermont lodge for a special Christmas show, but nothing quite goes to plan and they end up on a very different engagement in a deliciously wintry romantic comedy.
Palace Theatre, Manchester, atgtickets.com

 Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Chorley’s Kevin Simm in Aladdin at Blackpool Pleasure Beach - Credit: Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Until December 24
Blackpool Pleasure Beach's panto sees Chorley's Kevin Simm lead the cast in this story of a streetwise boy from Peking who finds a strange lamp at the market with hidden powers. 
Kevin, who is now the singer with Wet, Wet, Wet, as well as winner of The Voice and star of Liberty X, will take audiences on a traditional panto journey as the wicked wizard Abanazar tries to steal Aladdin’s magic lamp and kidnap the beautiful princess to make her his bride.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach, blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/panto

Until December 31
Winter Island
The UK’s largest fully outdoor and heated market comes to Escape to Freight Island at Depot Mayfield in Manchester. With a Christmas tree forest, plus festive traders and stalls, the outside space will be transformed into a winter wonderland. There will be a programme of events, from family raves, cabaret, live music and DJs, to comedy and film nights, live karaoke and Christmas workshops, plus the return of The Untold Orchestra series live at Escape to Freight Island every Wednesday showcasing Christmas specials.
Depot Mayfield, escapetofreightisland.com/bookings

Until January 9
Peter Pan
The Octagon will be flying audiences to Neverland in their magical festive production Peter Pan. JM Barrie’s classic tale will be adapted for the stage by Sarah Punshon, with songs by Claire Tustin and Ziad Jabero. Get set for an awfully big adventure with fairies, crocodiles and pirates as Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys take on the dastardly Captain Hook!  Filled with music, mischief and magic, it promises to be the perfect family treat.
Bolton Octagon, octagonbolton.co.uk

Until January 23
Van Gogh Alive
The hugely popular multi-sensory exhibition sees 3,000 images projected onto super-sized backdrops. Created for the whole family, it’s a change to get up close and even climb into the works of art. Taking place in a huge 17,500 sqft purpose-built venue, it also lets visitors recreate some of Van Gogh’s most famous works, stepping into his bedroom, walking through starry nights and even trying out some of his painting techniques. 
MediaCity, Salford, vangoghaliveuk.com/mediacity

Until March 19 2022
 I Grew Up 80s
Following the success of his hit Star Wars-themed exhibition, May The Toys Be With You, The Atkinson is pleased to welcome collector and cultural commentator Matt Fox back to Southport.
 I Grew Up 80s is a celebration of objects from the 1980s, a carefully-curated time capsule of more than 200 treasures. From BMX to Betamax, Dirty Dancing to Donkey Kong, Thompson Twins to Transformers, if you grew up in the 80s get ready to exclaim ‘I remember that’.
There's also a free online talk with curator Matt Fox on December 8, book a slot online.
The Atkinson, Southport, theatkinson.co.uk

 I Grew Up 80s is a celebration of objects from the 1980s

I Grew Up 80s is a celebration of objects from the 1980s, such as this Walkman - Credit: I Love 80s

The Wondrous Place gallery
Museum of Liverpool's new gallery has opened, celebrating the city and its cultural output with new displays and interactives, alongside old favourites from the original space. New areas include a zone dedicated to Liverpool on stage and screen and a focus on the city's creative gaming industry. The gallery also features fabulous new objects including 2019 World Champion heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson's running shoes, Spice Girl's Mel C's stage outfit, Gary Christian's cap and sunglasses and Natasha Jonas's Miss GB boxing shorts.
Tuesdays to Sundays, liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/museum-of-liverpool 

December 9
The Mediaeval Baebes
Celebrating their 25th Anniversary year in true Mediaeval Baebes style; the classical chart-topping choir will be weaving its story-telling magic once again this Christmas. Accompanied by an array of exotic and period instruments; carols, traditional folksongs, and innovative settings of ancient and romantic poetry will be revealed in a spirited performance of beguiling choral music. For this Silver Jubilee celebration, the band will premiere compositions from their latest album of ethereal plainsong Prayers of the Rosary, alongside new arrangements of Christmas favourites.
Bolton Parish Church of St. Peter, mediaevalbaebes.com 

Cinderella at the Atkinson

Cinderella at the Atkinson, Southport - Credit: The Atkinson

December 10-January 2
Singer and TV personality Claire Sweeney stars as the Fairy Godmother, alongside regular panto pros Mia Molloy as Cinderella, Britain’s Got Talent’s Lewis Pryor as Buttons, Alex Patmore as Prince Charming as well as Southport favourites Tom Burroughs and Michael Chapman as The Ugly Sisters.
The family-friendly show sees Cinders try to escape the clutches of her ugly stepsisters and live happily ever after - despite plenty of mischief from her wicked Stepmother and the jealous stepsisters.
The Atkinson, Southport, theatkinson.co.uk

December 11
Gaynor Sutcliffe and Western Valley Swing
The Ribble Valley Music Festival presents an evening of feel-good foot-tapping music, from western swing to jazz and modern hits with a twist to celebrate the festive season. With harmonies and instrument changes along with polished and musical virtuosity the band also use their vibrant and entertaining personalities to create a memorable occasion.
Bar opens at 7.00 and music at 7.30 pm. All proceeds from entrance fees go to Marie Curie Charity. Venue-hire fee and bar proceeds support the community centre.
St Mary’s Centre, Church St, Clitheroe, bookings only from 01254 384893.

The Opera House, Manchester has Aladdin in town for Pantomime this year.

The Opera House, Manchester has Aladdin in town for Pantomime this year. - Credit: ABNM Photography

December 11 - January 2
Musical theatre actress Alexandra Burke stars as The Spirit of The Ring in Manchester’s big panto this Christmas. She will be joined by Rochdale-born Ben Nickless, as Aladdin’s hapless brother Wishee Washee, who returns to the Opera House panto having played Muddles in Snow White and Buttons in Cinderella. 
Manchester Opera House, atgtickets.com

December 13 and 14
Love Actually In Concert
Love Actually, the seasonal romcom that has become a revelation and synonymous for so many with the festive period, is touring with a full orchestra performing its soundtrack live. Directed by Richard Curtis and originally released in cinemas in 2003, Love Actually tells ten separate yet interweaving stories of love around Christmas time. The film features an all-star ensemble cast, including Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Bill Nighy, Martine McCutcheon, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley Rowan Atkinson, and Martin Freeman. A full, live orchestra will perform Craig Armstrong’s score.

December 13 at Manchester Bridgewater Hall, bridgewater-hall.co.uk, and December 14 at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, liverpoolphil.com

December 18
Belshazzar's Feast, Mistletoe & Whine
With a new album out in time for their Christmas tour, the wickedly inventive and beloved folk duo are celebrating more than 25 years together. Paul Sartin (oboe, violin, swanee whistle and vocals) and Paul Hutchinson (accordion) will be looking back over their career, and playing new music plus fresh arrangements and reworkings of the duo’s favourites. The Mistletoe & Whine tour will be Paul & Paul’s last full-length Christmas fling, and promises to be an inspired mix of seasonal carols, songs and tunes, which combine to create a heart-warming, beautiful and frequently hilarious evening of music and entertainment.
Lake District Folk Club, Staveley Village Hall, tickets from 01539 822558.

Chapterhouse Theatre Company

A Christmas Carol, which will be performed by Chapterhouse Theatre Company in Burnley on December 23 - Credit: Chapterhouse Theatre Company

December 23
A Christmas Carol
It's hard to imagine Christmas without Ebenezer Scrooge, the callous old miser upon whom so many other festive villains are modelled. Chapterhouse's adaptation of the 1843 Dickens novella - which he scribbled in just a few weeks in between writing Martin Chuzzlewit -  sees Scrooge is whisked away on a terrifying journey through the past and into the future, accompanied by three fearsome ghosts determined to make him realize the true meaning of Christmas. The classic ghost story is brought alive with beautiful period costume, plus song, dance, and an original musical score. 
Burnley Mechanics Theatre, chapterhouse.org