Event: Christmas Lights Switch On, Albert Square, Friday 8 November, 7pm
So here we go, it’s the run up to Christmas. We know this for sure because last night on TV there was an Iceland advert trying to shift twenty faux-Turkey stuffed logs for 49p and a leggy blonde model falling out of all of her clothes for M&S. There’s naught more Yuley than skimpies.
The North West’s biggest Christmas party returns to illuminate Albert Square, beckoning in six weeks of festive celebrations in Manchester including the city’s now burgeoning Christmas markets (opening on 15 November), which last year welcomed nearly two million visitors alone, that’s the equivalent of the whole population of Latvia. Good going that.
There’ll be 247th X-Factor winner James Arthur, new rockers The Vamp, a dog from Britain’s Got Talent and even Faye Tozer from Steps. Still, there’ll be a ten minute fireworks display so it’s not all bad.
Once the square is full, access will be restricted so get there early. Info here.
Skate: Spinningfields Ice Rink Opens, The Lawns, Friday 8 November – Sunday 5 January, 3pm onwards
There are three key signifiers that the festive season is about to take hold in Spinningfields. Firstly, the big tepee goes up outside the Oast House. Check. Secondly, icy winds so vigorous that last year they found Pret in Denmark. Check. Lastly, the smash bang clatter of bare-arsed shouty builders installing the ice-rink outside Confidential towers. Check.
Open seven days a week the ice rink will be accompanied by Christmas films and music on the big screen, toasty food and drink in the surrounding Long Bar (plus the new German bierhaus) and Hibernate (formerly In Bloom), fairground rides and the obligatory massive puddles spread across the ice that you’re eventually going to end up arse-down in so why even bother fighting it.
Tickets £4-£9. Spinningfields ‘Snow Season’ here.
Comedy: Laugh Local with Justin Moorhouse, Chorlton Irish Club, Friday 8 November, Doors 6.30pm, Show starts at 8pm
Justin Moorhouse, that handyman bloke from Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights with a face permanently painted as a tiger, returns home to the North West after a multitude of exotic stand-up dates including exclusive shows in Barnsley, Swindon and Coventry. Playing two London dates at Leicester Square this month, Moorhouse will be warming-up at Chorlton Irish with the help of Archie Kelly, Ben Lawes, David Stanier and the comedian with the most Irish name since Kelly Murphy O’Sullivan, Caimh McDonnell.
£13.50 plus booking fee. Order tickets here.
Theatre: Singin’ in the Rain, Opera House, Saturday 9 November-Saturday 30 November
Bit of a wet one this. Based on the 1952 MGM musical comedy film directed by and starring Gene Kelly, Jonathan Church’s production of Singin’ in the Rain uses over 12,000 litres of water. Three questions then really: 1. Do United Utilities know? 2. Where does twelve tonnes of water go? 3. How big is that meter?
Telling the story of the first Hollywood musical, when the silver screen found its voice and for a very brief moment in time, made tap dancing vaguely enjoyable. Packed full of nostalgia, romance, charm, laughs and a touch of tinsel town, the production features stage hits Good Morning, Make ‘em Laugh and wettest of them all, Singin’ in the Rain.
Tickets £15 - £50. Book here.
Film: Gravity, Various cinemas, Multiple showtimes throughout the week
Clooney? Bullock? Sold. Dr Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a gifted engineer embarking on her first shuttle mission with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). Needless to say, things go tits up. Not much of a film if not.
On a routine spacewalk the shuttle is obliterated leaving the pair floating along in space with no communication with earth and a depleting supply of oxygen. Surely they’re buggered then, floating along aimlessly in space. But wait, you’re forgetting, they’re good-looking Americans… and this is Hollywood. If only they can make it to the International Space Station.
Director Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity has so far, and quite surprisingly for a high-budget 3D special effects heavy number, been receiving rave reviews across the board: 97 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, 96 per cent on Metacritic, 8.5 on IMDb, while Robbie Collin from the Telegraph says this “astonishing thriller is one of the films of year.” Certainly worth a watch.
Sport: Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest, Sport City, Saturday 9 November, from 10am
There seems to be quite a few of these tough guy obstacle endurance events popping up at the minute: Survival of the Fittest, Tough Mudder, Ironman, Tough Guy, Spartan Run, Monster Race, Super Tough Guy Survivor Gladiator Warrior Macho-Man Run, there’s even one in the US called the Death Race - you actually have to sign a fatality waiver.
If, like me, you don’t really see the point in paying through the nose to be made cold, wet and miserable – if so I’d renew my season ticket at Grimsby Town FC – you can go along and watch all the contestants be cold, wet and miserable running 10k up and down steps in the Etihad, across canals, underwater, over stuff and carrying heavy things.
Take a hot flask of tea along, wear a scarf, be smug. Or go stand in the beer tent at the end and wait for the whole cold horrible debacle to be done with.
Information on MH Survival of the Fittest here.
Remembrance: Remembrance Sunday 2013, from Albert Square to the Cenotaph in St Peter’s Square, Sunday 10 November, 10.45am
At 10.45am senior representatives from the Navy, Army, Air Force, Royal British Legion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and Reserve Forces will join the Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Naeem ul Hassan in a procession from Albert Square to the Cenotaph in St Peter’s Square.
Faith leaders, including representatives from the Muslim, Afro-Caribbean Christian Churches, Sikh, Hindu, Jain and Jewish communities will join clergy from the Free Church, Church of England and Catholic Church.
The procession, led by the Greater Manchester Police Band, will make its way down Mount Street and Peter Street and will be called to attention by the parade commander. At 11am the firing of a 105mm gun will signal the start and conclusion of the two minute silence.
The procession will then return to Albert Square for the March Past of Service Organisations.
Bowl: Half Price Bowling at Dog Bowl, Whitworth Street West, After 10.30pm throughout November
It used to be that you’d have to wait until midnight to benefit from Dog Bowl’s half price after-hours bowling offer. Well now it’s available a whole 90 minutes earlier, which, consequently, means 90 minutes less boozing before taking to the lane. So, fingers crossed, you might actually hit a pin this time. Those little buggers can be elusive.
Alternatively, make the most of two offers we’re currently running with Dog Bowl until 14 November: 2 courses and a cocktail for £19 or 2 courses, a cocktail and bowling for £23. Also, order a Deep South Sunday Lunch for £12 and get a round of bowling in for free. That’s Sunday sorted. See all offers here.
Museum: Remembrance: Big Picture Show, IWM North, Daily throughout November, 2pm weekdays 3pm weekends and school holidays
The Big Picture Show is an award-winning 360-degree experience exclusive to IWM North. Using surround sound, projected digital moving images and photographs, the show brings to life people’s experiences of war. It immerses you in the heart of the action, creating a complete sensory experience.
This show looks at the origins of Remembrance in the First World War through to more recent loss in Iraq in 2010. A completely involving and often very moving display.
FREE (Special showings Sunday 10 November at 11am and 4pm and Monday 11 November at 11am and 3pm).
Music: World Music, RNCM, Monday 11 November and Wednesday 13 November, 7.30pm
Rokia Traore is recognised as one of the most inventive singer/songwriters in Africa today, remarkable not just for her powerful and emotive voice, but also for the diversity of work she produces. For this concert, she sings songs from her new album, Beautiful Africa, which follows three very different projects recently completed: the acoustic Damou (Dream), the bluesy Donguili (Sing), and the rock-influenced Donke (Dance).
Whilst on Wednesday, performing with his long-time friend Larry Willis, Hugh Masekela’s concert offers a rare opportunity to experience these two extraordinary musicians performing together. After meeting in 1960s New York during their college days at the Manhattan School of Music, Masekela and Willis have collaborated many times. Their latest project, a four disc release entitled Friends, focusses on the music of the Great American Songbook and is a masterpiece of chamber jazz fused with the exuberance of Masekela’s style.
Tickets £15-£20. Book here.
Art: TOWN, Stockport Art Gallery, Wellington Road South, Friday 8 November - Sunday 10 November, 12pm-5pm
The main part of this exhibition is TOWN, a huge twelve-part panorama of Stockport by artist Neil Dimelow. It also features work by artists Jan Chlebik, Sarah Hardacre, Caroline Johnson, Jackie Mitchell and Simone Ridyard. Pop Up Gallery Manchester is a loose group of artists (not in a promiscuous sense) who work in various areas and occasionally come together to show work in borrowed spaces. Stockport Art Gallery is a magnificent borrowed space that also doubles - on the weekend before Remembrance Sunday - as one of the most impressive war memorials in the country. This exhibition closes on Sunday. If you have a moment spare visit it to see, in particular, the extraordinary panoramic work by Neil Dimelow.
FREE. More info here.
Part of TOWN by Dimelow
Theatre: If Only Shahrukh Khan, Z Arts, Stretfvord Road, Hulme, Until Thursday 14 November, 7.30pm, Matinee 13 November 1.30pm
Three spinsters living together in London, brought together through a mutual obsession with Shahrukh 'King' Khan, the widely accepted 'King of Bollywood', the smouldering and despicably wealthy family man sex symbol of India.
Leading separate lives, the three 'aunti-ji' women, each coming to terms with their past and current situation, come together once a week to gather around their DVD player and attend their Khan fan club meeting. They trudge along with their lives until a young Kenyan man, Opiyo, turns up looking for his mother. Opiyo represents all that they have forgotten and left behind.
Concert: Stereophonics, Phones 4u Arena, Thursday 14 November, 7.30pm
Now with eight studio albums, a greatest hits album and enough platinum records to make even Elizabeth Duke sell her children, Wayne Rooney’s favourite band (Wazza has a Stereophonics tattoo, along with quotes from his two favourite poems: “Never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep” from Milton’s Paradise Lost and “Like that star of the waning summer who beyond all stars rises bathed in the ocean stream to glitter in brilliance” from Homer’s The Iliad) set out to tour their new album Graffiti on the Train alongside fan favourite singles ‘Bartender and the Thief’ and ‘Dakota’.
Tickets £38.50 available here.
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