What’s On in Lancashire and the Lake District

Love Labours Lost and Much Ado About Nothing in Manchester Image RSC Manuel Harlan

Love Labours Lost and Much Ado About Nothing in Manchester Image RSC Manuel Harlan - Credit: Archant

A round-up of events in Lancashire and the Lake District during December


Until 3rd

Love Labour’s Lost & Much Ado About Nothing

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s hugely acclaimed pairing of these two plays comes to Manchester this winter. The action in Love’s Labour Lost and Love Labour’s Won (Much Ado About Nothing) takes place either side of World War One and both shows feature the same company of actors.

The Opera House, Manchester, 0844 871 3018

3rd-January 8th

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A magic carpet ride as Aladdin sweeps into the theatre to take audiences on another sparkling adventure. So make sure you’ve booked your place in the cave of wonders and get ready to shout ‘Open Sesame’.

St Helen’s Theatre Royal, 01744 756000

3rd-January 21st

Sweet Charity

The hustle and bustle of New York City comes to the Royal Exchange. Charity is a dancer. With a heart tattoed on her arm and, always looking for love, she has a habit of falling for the wrong man. When she meets shy tax accountant Oscar it seems as though her luck might have changed. Their romance sends them whirling and spinning through the dance halls, churches and streets of 1960s New York, but not everything’s a walk in the park and Charity soon faces a choice between Oscar and the wild existence she has tried to keep from him.

Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, 0161 833 9833


After the Floods

When the lights went out all over Lancaster in December following Storm Desmond, it brought the community together as rarely seen before. The atrocious weather conditions put homeless people on an equal footing with others, as thousands faced the kind of adversity and challenges tackled by them on a daily basis. These experiences will be reflected in After the Floods, an original production by Alternative Outcomes, a theatre company formed at The Dukes in 2013 by a group who access Lancaster District Homeless Action Service.

The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster, 01524 598500

6th-15th January

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Audiences of all ages will be flying high with a mixture of madness, intrigue and exuberance. Starring Jason Manford as Caractacus Potts, Michelle Collins as Baroness Bomburst and Phill Jupitus as Lord Scrumptious/Baron Bomburst.

The Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays, 0843 208 6000

8th-January 8th


Natasha Hamilton (ex-Atomic Kitten) headlines this popular pantomime with a mixture of fun and laughter, stunning scenery, slapstick comedy, sparkling costumes and plenty of glamour.

The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool, 0844 888 4411

9th-January 8th


This year’s dazzling family pantimone stars Sherrie Hewson and John Thompson with pop star Ben Adams playing Aladdin and Opera House regular Eric Potts as the long-suffering Widow Twanky.

The Opera House, Manchester, 0844 871 3018

12th-January 5th

Jack and the Beanstalk

Comedian Phil Walker joins Linda Nolan as hero Jack and the good fairy nin this classic family pantomime,

The Charter Theatre, Preston, 01772 804440


The Secret Life of Suitcases

A funny and enchanting show with renowned Scottish puppeteer Ailie Cohen. Larry works in an office and doesn’t like it very much, but one day a suitcase suddenly appears at his door. A suitcase with a tiny label with his name on it – and the suitcase has a mission…

Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, 017687 74411


Great Expectations The Musical

The Charles Dickens classic story and hit musical will feature a mixture of stars from stage and screen and the world of pop.

The Winter Gardens, Blackpool, 0844 856 1111

Until January 7th

Sleeping Beauty

Fine Time Fontayne stars as the wicked Queen Carabosse, who puts an evil spell on beautiful Princess Rose. A handsome prince is needed to break the spell with true love’s kiss, as pantomime returns to Oldham.

The Coliseum Theatre, Oldham, 0161 624 2829

Until January 7th


The Round is transformed into a toy shop as The Dukes presents its own version of Pinocchio, the captivating and enduring tale full of wonderful characters, laughter, music, puppets and songs.

The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster, 01524 598500

Until January 14th

The Emperor & The Nightingale

The colour, movement and spectacle of Chinese theatre combine with the beauty of the nightingale’s song in a feast for the senses that will delight the whole family.

Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, 017687 74411

Until January 14th


It’s got all the traditional elements of a fabulous festive treat – a feisty girl who dreams of dressing up and dancing, a wicked stepmother, mean older sisters and a slightly geeky prince, but this Cinderella has one big difference. The rats are in charge.

The Octagon Theatre, Bolton, 01204 520661

Until 28th

Billy Elliott the Musical

Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984/85 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true.

The Palace Theatre, Manchester, 0844 871 3019



Christmas Concert & Tree Festival

This popular concert this year takes place amongst the Christmas Tree Festival in church, creating a visual magic to enhance the evening’s seasonal music with carol sing-a-long, mince pies, wine and the biggest Christmas cracker pull in Lancashire. Elliott Brass Ensemble and Barbershop choir Wrong Direction will perform the seasonal favourites.

Christ Church, Chatburn, 01254 384893


Christmas Fundraiser

Preston Playhouse presents The Longridge Band and Preston Musical Comedy Show Choir with an evening of Christmas magic. The perfect way to start the festive season.

Preston Playhouse, 01772 744771


Blackburn Music Society Christmas Concert

Annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. The choir will be accompanied by the Lancashire Chamber Orchestra and soloists Jennie Marsden, Emma Stannard, Alex Grainger and Louis Hurst all conducted by Tom Newall.

Blackburn Cathedral, 0844 847 1664


Keswick’s Own Christmas Proms

The Rotary Club of Keswick present this Christmas concert featuring professional singers Graeme Danby and Valerie Reid along with the award-winning Riverside Band and St Herbert’s School Choir.

Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, 017687 74411


Mozart by Candlelight

From the Producers of A Viennese Strauss Gala, this sumptuous fully costumed show immerses us in the wonderful music and the classical baroque world of one of the world’s greatest romantic composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Lowther Pavilion Theatre, Lytham St Annes,01253 794221


Christmas Concert

Clitheroe Concerts Society present the Gildas Quartet playing a selection of Haydn, Bartok and Schubert.

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, www.clitheroeconcerts.org


Lancaster & District Choral Society Winter Concert

Lancaster’s largest four-part choir, conducted by John Perrin with soprano Emily Robinson, Organist Ian Pattinson and chamber orchestra perform John Rutter’s joyous setting of Mary’s canticle.

Lancaster Priory Church, 01524 823053


Paul Young & Special Guests Hue & Cry

Two stalwarts of the music world perform in concert together.

Manchester Academy, 0161 832 1111


Christmas Festivities

Bury Choral Society is led by director Juan Ortuno in another amazing fun-filled programme from home and abroad.

Bury United Reformed Church, 0161 761 1544


Carols by Candlelight

The Canzonetta choir and Mozart Festival Orchestra in full period costume present this evening of carols by candlelight.

The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 0161 907 9000


Family Carol Concert

The Ramsbottom Choral Society and Orchestra will be performing their annual family carol concert.

Greenmount United Reformed Church, Bury, www.ramsbottomchoralsociety.com


A Musical Christmas

An evening of festive musical entertainment featuring Colne Orpheus Male Voice Choir, PYO Music and Nelson Ladies Civic Choir. Pendle Hippodrome Theatre, Colne, www.phtheatre.co.uk


The Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza with The Osmonds

Award-winning variety production featuring nostalgic footage of the legendary Andy Williams in Christmas past. Sing-a-long to your favourite Chrismas classics and The Osmonds will also perform their mega hits.

The Guildhall, Preston, 01772 804444


Christmas Carol Sing-a-long

Sing your heart out as Jonathan Cohen leads you through a fun-filled jamboree of his most-loved carols and hits.

The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 0161 907 9000



Whalley Pickwick Festival

Popular Christmas festival with attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Whalley Village, 0845 388 1031


Oakhill Christmas Market

A free, one-day indoor event with entertainment including children’s entertainment, Santa’s Grotto, bouncy castles, seasonal carvery and 60 food, gift, fashion and craft stalls.

Oakhill School & Oakhill Leisure, Whalley


Christmas Meat & Drink Festival

A festival of meat and drink just in time to stock up for Christmas. Savour an exotic game burger, while trying a pint of real ale.

Hoghton Tower, near Preston, 01254 852986


Victorian Christmas Weekend

Discover the festive spirit of Christmas in a large Victorian family home. See the Dining Room set for Christmas dinner and the house decorated throughout, visit the kitchen to learn the secrets of a great plum pudding.

Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham, 01282 771 004


Christmas Market

Askham Hall & Gardens will come alive with the sights and sounds of a traditional Christmas market, with 45 stalls taking residence in the grounds.

Askham Hall & Gardens, Lowther Valley, near Penrith, 01931 712350


Christmas Craft & Gift Fair

Craft and gift stalls, unique gift ideas plus festive entertainment during the day.l

Ribby Hall Village, Wrea Green, 01772 685 858


Christmas Craft Fair

Stalls include typewriter art, jewellery, vintage, aloe products, textiles and cakes.

Assemby Rooms, Lytham St Annes, 07460 304327

10th-11th (&17th-18th)

Santa Sailings

Santa and his elves will keep the kids entertained on board the boat on Windermere.

Windermere Lake Cruises, 015394 43360

10th-January 1st

Winter Wonderland

The exhibition space at EventCity will be transformed in to an wonderland extravaganza, featuring over 50 family rides and attractions all under one roof. There’s also a pantomime and new Science show.

EventCity, Manchester, www.winterwonderlandmanchester.com


Christmas Craftacular

Stuck for a present for one who has everything? Visit the Christmas fair for inspiration and gift ideas while sipping on mulled wine.

Hoghton Tower, near Preston, 01254 852986


Garstang Victorian Christmas Festival

People from all over the region join locals for an evening of fun. The town centre is closed to traffic with bands, singers, stilt walkers, and all kinds of street entertainment..

Garstang, 01995 602125


Blackburn Lantern Parade, Fireworks & Carol Concert

The Lantern Parade will begin from Ainsworth Street, when hundreds of lanterns will be carried in a procession around the town followed by the new Community Parade. Enjoy the show, including fire and light performers, and see the amazing fireworks light the sky over Blackburn Cathedral.

Town Hall Square, Blackburn, 01254 688040


Christmas at the Castle

A festive fair for all the family – with a range of stallholders selling local and regional produce, arts, crafts, gifts and Christmas baubles, and street food, while choirs, brass bands, jazz quartets and local musicians play carols and festive favourites. Lancaster Castle, 01524 64998


Winter Warm-Up

View up to 30 old stationary steam engines running – some of which once powered the cotton and woollen mills of the north of England, including five built in Bolton. Some of the engines are unique, the only one of their kind to survive anywhere in the world.

Bolton Steam Museum, 01204 846490




An exhibition that it an exploration into the genre of portraiture and the depiction of the figure.

The Gallery, Liverpool, 0151 709 2442

Until December 11th

Tom Mellor First Exhibition

This distinguished architect and talented painter who also designed furniture and fabrics. Lytham Heritage Group present two exhibitions this winter. The first focuses on Tom’s Christmas cards from 1938 to 1992, but also includes a small selection of furniture and fabrics together with photographs of buildings he designed.

Lytham Heritage Centre, www.lythamheritage.co.uk

Until January 2017

Rocks and Roots and Ravens by Jane Exley

An exhibition of rugs made by Jane Exley of The Woolly Rug Company, Ambleside. Each has been hand-tufted using wool from local Herdwick fell sheep and has been especially designed for this exhibition.

Brantwood, Coniston, 015394 41396

Until March 19th, 2017

Cecile B. Evans

Solo exhibition of artist Cecile B. Evans with a new muti-dimensional work featuring two humanoid robots and a robot dog performing in the gallery.

Tate Liverpool, 0151 702 7400

Until January 29


A key Arts & Crafts figure, Annie Garnett (1864 -1942) was a local designer whose textiles influenced the revival of hand spinning and weaving.

Blackwell, Bowness on Windermere

Favourite Five


25 Years of Reeves & Mortimer: The Poignant Moments

Comedy legends Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are on tour with a celebration of the first 25 years of their professional collaboration from Vic Reeves Big Night Out through to Smell of Reeves and Mortimer.

The Opera House, Blackpool, 0844 856 1111

9th-January 8th


Will Aladdin and the princess ever find true love? Will the princess tell her father of Abanazar’s evil plot? And, more importantly, will Widow Twanky ever get her washing done? Answers to all these and more await in the spectacular pantomime of the season.

The Grand Theatre, Blackpool, 01253 290190

11th & 18th

Father Christmas at Hoghton Tower

Father Christmas will be waiting for children in the magnificent Banqueting Hall, beautifully decorated for Christmas. Tell him what you would like for Christmas and receive a gift from under the tree.

Hoghton Tower, near Preston, 01254 852986


A Jazz Christmas Carol

A family night out, a treat for the jazz connoisseur or a delight for anyone who loves music, literature or Christmas.

Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, 017687 74411


Last Night of the Christmas Proms

Manchester Concert Orchestra in concert with Ilona Domnich soprano, Alexander James Edwards tenor and conducted byJohn Pryce-Jones.

The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 0161 907 9000