The perfect Princess party

How to throw the dream party with Magic Fairy Wings


Most little girls go through a pink Princess phase where all things magic, sparkly and with wings are to be adored.

I’m sure many of you will have asked your daughters (or sons?) what kind of a birthday party they’d like this year, to be showered with ‘pleases’ for a Princess Party.


Princess Party


We asked Debbie Talbot from Magic Fairy Wings to help out with some top tips for conjuring up the perfect Princess Party.


Over to you Debbie ……

princess visit belle


Are you sitting comfortably – then I’ll begin!

Once upon a time there was a stressed out mum who had a party to organise, but didn’t have a clue where to begin or how to transfer her 1970′s semi into Camelot!

But with a wave of my wand a sprinkle of fairy dust I was able to help transform various shades of neutral into a gorgeous pink palace with all the special touches that make the perfect Princess Party.


Here’s my ‘How To’ guide with some top tips for the perfect party.




If it’s a summer celebration, then why not plan your party in the grounds of an actual castle, and have a fabulous Princess picnic.

Unfortunately we’re not blessed with an abundance of castles within striking distance of Manchester, so if having it at home isn’t an option, hire your local church hall, community or leisure centre sports hall, and turn it into a fairytale treat.

  • Create a pink carpet for the guests to walk into the ‘Princess castle’ with some sumptuous pink material.
  • Tie pink and silver balloons around the entrance and throughout the venue.
  • Make or buy some Princess Party bunting to spread the magic throughout the room.


Princess Party bunting



Princess Party Invites


Set the tone for your Princess Party with some special Princess themed invitations.

If you’d like to make them especially special then why not check out our Magic Fairy Wings personalised invites here.

To make them even more Princessy, roll them up like a scroll and tie them with a pink ribbon.

Invite all the guests to come dressed in pink, or as their favourite Princess. If anyone comes as Princess Ann then give them an extra slice of birthday cake!



Princess costume

Princess outfit


If you’re feeling crafty, then by all means have a go at making your own.

Have a look at this How to make a no sew Princess costume from a pillow case tutorial.

Alternatively we’ve got some beautiful Magic Fairy Wings dressing up outfits (click here) which will make your little Princess the Belle of the ball.

Accessorise with a tiara and wand from our collection.




  • Display a treasure chest full of beads and baubles for the party Princesses to bejewel themselves as befits their status.
  • Alternatively, buy some kids jewellery bead craft kits so that they can make their own.


  • Book a children’s entertainer – A Manchester based one I recently used for my daughter’s birthday party was Princess Impersonations which cost a very reasonable £40.00 for a half hour visit (see the Princess in the yellow dress above). The children heard a beautiful story written especially to include the birthday girl and learnt princess etiquette.
  • Play pass the parcel with a pink wrapped present full of Princess gifts.
  • Pin the jewel on the crown, the fly on the frog, the crown on the Princess, or the tail on the dragon.
  • Try musical statues to a sound track of Beauty and the Beast.


Party Food


Princess cupcake

  • Pink lemonade is a must for a Princess Party.
  • Use cookie cutters in the shape of stars, crowns and hearts to cut out themed sandwiches.
  • Make magic wands from a slice of kiwi fruit and a piece of star shaped water melon on a wooden skewer.
  • A Princess birthday cake is an absolute must – Asda sell a lovely princess cake (click here) for £9.00. Alternatively, create a tower of cupcakes with pink icing.


princess purses


Party Bags

At Magic Fairy Wings we’ve got some lovely and very reasonably priced party bags and fillers (click here)..

Another idea would be to provide a small gift for each child to take home instead such as one of our fabulous feather trimmed Princess purse (click here).

We hope that your little Princess has a lovely time!



Competition Time


We’ve got a super cute Melissa and Doug Princess Fancy Dress Outfit (see picture here), value £19.99 to give away to one lucky reader.

All we want to know is who is your favourite Princess?

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.

So don’t be shy – tell us who’s your favourite Princess!

Good luck!


Debbie x


Magic Fairy Wings


Web site:

Tel: 0161 787 8550


Twitter: @magicfairywings




Photographs: Elena Roussakis, USAG Humphreys, Clever Cupcakes, Lisa Marie Gee of Pamper and Pose, Magic Fairy Wings

This blog is produced in collaboration with our friends at Magic Fairy Wings. We occasionally publish blogs funded by commercial partners.


By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.


Competition closing date: 9pm Friday 1st November 2013.

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Friday 1st November 2013. The winner will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions, loquax and  Competitions Time. If you are the lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 2 days of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.


Previous competition winners (last 6 months)

Real Nappy Week – win a selection of real nappies (16th April 2013). Winner Sarah Fisher.

Stylish Summer Homes – win Next home goodies (6th June 2013). Winner Ann Calland.

Lady Boys of Bangkok – win tickets (8th June 2013). Winners Rachel Fisher, Catherine Anderson.

The Cruise Show – win tickets (14th July 2013). Winners Kathy Cakebread, Karen Mckend, Claire Kelly.

Sushi Making Masterclass – win a sushi making kit (30th July 2013). Winner Sarah Plant.

Cocktails & Dreams – win a cocktail making masterclass at Lock 91 (29th August 2013). Winner Nicola Robinson.

Creative Stitches & Hobbycraft Show – win tickets (1st September 2013). Winners Claire Jackson, Pauline Rendell, Joanna Arthur, Fran Morgan, Liz Ferguson, Michelle Smith, Dil Price, Pam Gregory, Linda Weatherley.

The Independent Interiors Show – win a house hamper (3rd September 2013). Winner Nichola Gill.

Indulge Fragrance Boutique – win bottles of perfume (8th September 2013). Winners Gillian Shiels, Leanne Williams, Julie Ward.

Creamline Diaries / Getting Kids to Eat Breakfast – win a Saturday Cookshop course with a celebrity chef (18th September 2013). WInner Sara Perry.

The Lounge Gallery – win a Michelle Keeling necklace (22nd September). Winner Alison Ferrara








The Lost Carnival – Review

Step inside this imaginative and wonderful world


Over 100 years ago, this darkly strange circus disappeared, only to reappear last month in all it’s weirdly compelling glory in Burrs Country Park in Bury.

I can only assume that during the intervening century they’ve been spinning though the galaxy in a huge intergalactic big top, rubbing shoulders with Red Dwarf and the Tardis!


The Lost Carnival image credit credit Brett Harkness


The Lost Carnival is an immersive, spectacular experience that invites you to step into a world unlike any other.

From 22nd – 25th May 2015, The Lost Carnival treated visitors to a magical extravaganza. There were mermaids, a strong man, mind reader, ring master, acrobats and bearded lady to name but a few.

As we transitioned through the big top into the imagination of organisers Wild Rumpus (who are also behind The Just So Festival), we discovered that our mission was to collectively generate energy on an hourly basis. Thankfully no static bikes were involved in the making of this show – instead the aim was to harness the power of communal singing!




When we emerged from the big top into the carnival there was plenty to keep us busy. Mask making, mermaid chatting, the fabulous band Rum Buffalo and a banquet of street food meant that the time just flew by.

The programme of live music, acrobatics, dancing ladies and swinging balls meant that there was always something going on, without feeling over faced.

Our four year old daughter particularly loved getting dressed up – face painted like Pierrot she looked adorable. I on the other hand looked more like a cross between Heath Ledger’s Joker and Kizz! I got some interesting looks on the M60!

She also loved chatting with the mermaids (“They weren’t real though mummy, I could see their feet”), playing games with the strong man, the music and just the overall spectacle.




Us grown ups loved all of the above – plus Ginger’s Comfort Emporium’s mint and fennel ice cream, which was spectacular!

We were blessed with great weather which contributed to a fantastic event which we thoroughly enjoyed. And although our tickets were complementary, I would have happily paid the £10 ticket price and felt like I’d got good value for money. Under 3′s go free.

My only query would be about the timing of The Lost Carnival. Starting at 4.00pm and running through until 9.30pm, it didn’t quite work for us. As a family event and with a 4 year old we’d have preferred it to start earlier. When I asked the organisers for the rational, their answer was:

“We like being outside on warm summers evenings, we like the transition from daytime through dusk to dark and staying up beyond bedtimes, not sticking to the routines and the excitement that brings with it.  

“I appreciate it’s not for everyone but we find it works for us and hopefully for those who can’t manage to hang on until the end we hope they’ve had a really exciting and brilliant experience before they have to call it a day”.

Coming at the end of term, with a tired little girl we didn’t manage to make it to the end. Hopefully next year will be a different kettle of fish. We can’t wait to see where and when The Lost Carnival lands next year.

For more information about The Lost Carnival visit


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Brett Harkness

Disclosure: Although our tickets were free, this does not ensure a positive review. We did genuinely love the event and look forward to it’s return.




The Lost Carnival is coming

We talk to organiser and Director of Wild Rumpus, Sarah Bird


I’ve been a fan of the Just So Festival for quite some time now, so when I heard that it’s little sister The Lost Carnival was coming to Burrs Country Park (Bury, 22/23/24/25 May 2015) I gave an enormous squeal!

We spoke to Sarah Bird, Co-Director of Wild Rumpus, the company behind these family festivals which can only be described as imagination explosions, to find out just how it all began. Sarah is pictured below (left) with Co-Director and friend Rowan Hoban.



Wild Rumpus


Standing on the verge of The Lost Carnival – taking place in Bury over the bank holiday weekend – it’s quite something to think that the partnership that has become so important to mine and Rowan’s lives only came into being  a few short years ago.

As we wander round the Burrs Country Park site where the event is all set to take place, telling the story of a once great carnival which strangely and mysteriously disappeared in 1915, and filled with incredible acrobatics, Balkan gypsy music,  mechanical contraptions and astounding sideshows – our initial playground conversations seem a lifetime ago.


lost carnival billboard


School mums and book groups


Our kids were at the same school, we were in the same book club, occasionally had lunch with the same group of mums, but we didn’t know each other that well when we decided to team up and set up a weekend camping arts festival for families.

It went something along the lines of:

Sarah ‘I’ve had an idea for a festival, where it’s all about families, playing, singing, dancing and creating together’

Rowan ‘Come on then, let’s do it.’

Sarah ‘Really?’

Rowan ‘Really. Here, I’ve already set up the website!’

Sarah  ‘Really? That was quick!’


Wild Rumpus


Wild Rumpus


The perfect mix of cautious and ambitious


We were incredibly naïve but also (it turned out later) the perfect mix of cautious and ambitious, practical and creative.

Our first venture, the Just So Festival, began small and has since become an annual extravaganza attracting thousands of families into the wild spaces of their dreams.




Lost Carnival


Lost Carnival


It wasn’t long before we took the big leap of faith that all such adventures seem to require, giving up our day jobs as bookshop manager and science co-ordinator at MMU. Our lives became ever more intertwined, running a marathon together, if only to allow us more time to hatch up our plans.


Never let your imagination get the better of you


If nothing else I’d say the lesson of our partnership is that you should never feel afraid to let your imagination get the better of you.

One of the things we said to the audience at the very first festival was that it would be what they made it, they needed to bring their singing voices, their dancing feet, their stories and their capacity for wonder. We wanted them to feel like it was their festival and from the get go they wowed us, they dressed up, they played, climbed, sang and danced their socks off.


Pendulum 1


The Lost Carnival


We are saying the same thing again with The Lost Carnival. Yes, we’ve worked our hardest and dreamed our wildest dreams in order to provide something special for them to turn up and enjoy, the real excitement, though, is the prospect that they will not only just turn up, but will do so determined to fully enter the extraordinary spirit of the event.

The Lost Carnival will appear in Burrs Country Park in Bury on the evenings of 22/23/24/25 May 2015. The carnival will be open from 4-9pm, with the audience entering on timed tickets.

Tickets cost £10 per person (under 3s go free). Carnival goers should dress for the weather, and wear sturdy shoes. Tickets are available at

See what else Wild Rumpus are planning including details of the 2015  Just So Festival and an incredible opportunity to release your inner wild thing at the Whitworth in Manchester in June


Competition time




We’ve got a family ticket to give away for The Lost Carnival, for the evening of Friday 22nd May for two adults and as many kids as you have (that are yours!). The event runs from 4pm – 9pm.


The Lost Carnival


All we want to know is if you ran away to join the circus, what would you be and why?

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.

Will it be Lion Tamer, Trapeze Artist or something different altogether.

So don’t be shy – tell us what you’d be?

Good luck!


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Wild Rumpus


By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.


Competition closing date: 9pm Sunday 17th May 2015.

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Sunday 17th May 2015. The winner will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions, loquax and  Competitions Time. If you are the lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 24 hours of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.











Easy face painting ideas

Make your face funny for money for Comic Relief


This Friday is Comic Relief – and I’ve had an email from school to say that kids should go in with a ‘funny face’! Mine has already got a funny face, but I’m not sure I can send her in just with instructions to gurn!

So I’ve been scouring the internet to find some easy funny face painting ideas that I can actually have a good crack at. I’m no Banksy or fine art student, so ambitious won’t be a word in my vocabulary come Friday morning!

In addition to the Comic Relief ‘Face Pack‘, these are some ideas I’ve found that I like the look of.



Easy face painting


Easy face painting.




Good luck!

Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)









Scarecrow Festival at Tatton

Family half term fun


If you’re looking for something fun to do this half term (14th – 22nd February 2015), then head over to Tatton Park gardens for their scarecrow festival.

We had loads of fun with our quiz sheet following the trail in the walled kitchen garden, tracking down eight special scarecrows representing fairies, elves, nymphs,  sprites, trolls and the like.


Fairy scarecrow





Nymph scarecrow



The gardens were looking gorgeous as usual yesterday (Sunday 15th February). Venture across the lawns and there are many more (up to 30) straw and sack creations to be spotted.



I took a particular shine to this old fellow with his banjo.


Banjo scarecrow


There are also some lovely craft activities – we made our own fairies!


Making fairies


I’ve got a nasty feeling however that our lovely day out may back fire on me, as I told my four year old daughter that when the sun goes down and the grounds begin to get dark, the scarecrows come to life and walk across the lawns. I’m thoroughly expecting to be woken in the night with nightmares – they could be hers, they could be mine. It’s anyone’s guess.

For more information about the Tatton Park Scarecrow Festival click here.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples




What’s On February Half Term

Family friendly ideas to keep the kids entertained and you sane!


Once again we’ve had a look at what’s happening in and around Manchester during the half term holidays. This list doesn’t include everything, so please do add things in the comments box.

It’s a bit quick and dirty, but will hopefully give you some ideas and signpost you to relevant places for more information.


Museum of Science and Industry

Steam, Sweat and Sewers – a programme of special half term activities running 14th – 22nd February. For more information visit


steam, sweat & sewers MOSI


Imperial War Museum

War at Sea – creative sessions and story telling, weekdays throughout February and daily in half term (14th – 22nd February). For more information visit


The Manchester Museum

Living Worlds – drop in sessions. Create paper butterflies and other animals to take away (16th – 20th February). For more information visit


Jodrell Bank Discover Centre

Solar System hands on activities – try some science experiments for yourself (16th – 20th February). For more information visit


People’s History Museum

Election Craft Table (14th – 22nd February), Little PHM Under The Rainbow (15th February) and Hands on History (18th February) – crafts and interactive story telling. For more information visit


Manchester Art Gallery

Holiday Workshops – Mini Worlds (17th – 20th February). For more information visit


Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Book Art Workshop and Storytelling (18th February). For more information visit


Ordsall Hall

Half Term Fun – Create a Coat of Arms; ‘Feed Me’ Fly Traps; Fabric Design; Valentines Quiz; Egg Box Garden. For calendar and more information visit


Salford Museum and Art Gallery

Half Term Fun – Make and Take: Dog Tags; Salford at War Quiz; Chinese Dragon Puppets. For calendar and more information visit


The Lowry

Half Term Little Artists and Little Actors - Little artists can celebrate The Lowry’s performance of I Believe in Unicorns by making their own galloping unicorns,  while little actors can celebrate The Lowry’s sing-a-long-a-Frozen with an interactive workshop (both run 16th – 20th February). For more information visit


Craft activities, the Lowry


National Football Museum

Facepainting, Story telling and Half Term Skills Sessions – check calander for more information


Stockley Farm

Reopens on February 14th and is open all half term week, so amongst other things you can learn all about lambing. For more information visit


Red House Farm

Pizza Making Fun – Morning and afternoon classes plus all the usual attractions (16th – 20th February). For more information visit


Delamere Forest

Gruffalo Child Trail – 1.5Km trail in search of the Gruffalo child. Open until 28th February. For more information visit


The Gruffalo Child Trail


Tatton Park

Scarecrow Festival – Hunt for scarecrows around the house and gardens and make your own (14th – 22nd February). For more information visit


Quarry Bank Mill

Wild Animals – Make a wild animal teller you can take outside to identify animals and their poo! (16th – 20th February). For more information visit


Lyme Park

Xplorer Orienteering – use a simple map to find the markers and complete the challenge (9th – 18th February). For more information visit


Chinese New Year Celebrations

Celebrating the Year of the Ram (19th – 22nd February). For more information visit


Manchester Chinese New Year


Peppa Pig: The Golden Boots

Vue Cinemas – all your favourite episodes with a new special one! (14th – 19th February). For more information visit


Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The Waterside Arts Centre (14th – 18th February). For more information visit


Frozen Sing-a-Long

The Waterside Arts Centre – Let It Go etc. Bring your Elsa dress! (19th February). For more information visit


Your local library for story time, its dry, clean and free. Find a library near you.


Happy holidays,


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: MOSI, The Lowry, Delamere Forest, Chinese New Year Manchester






Traditional children’s party ideas

Going back to basics


Children’s parties are a hot topic at the moment with the recent uproar and debate over the mum who invoiced a no-show.

It can be a pricey affair, so we asked our resident baking blogger and mum of four Alice from Alice’s Vintage Pantry to share with us some of her top tips for a traditional children’s party.


Over to you Alice ……


Alice's Vintage Pantry


Looking for something a bit different for your child’s birthday party? Why not go back to traditional kids parties that were common place before children’s entertainers and soft play venues were so popular.

There is something really lovely about organising a traditional kid’s party with traditional games and entertainment and a lovely homemade party tea.

At Alice’s Vintage Pantry we host lots of adult and children’s tea parties. We’ve put together a few tips and ideas to help you plan one of your own.


Choose a theme


First off decide on a theme for the party and use it to help you plan both the entertainment and the food.

Age dependent you could go for a Teddy Bears picnic, Princesses and Princes, Mad Hatters or Alice in Wonderland or maybe a Village Fete theme.

Invitations can be made with ease, just get yourself a pack of plain cards and get the kids decorating with stickers etc. Games food and entertainment can all be themed to match.

American Girl Doll Inspired Birthday Party by Anders Ruff





Keep the food simple and small, nothing that is going to need cutlery.

Finger sandwiches, little cakes and bakes, cut up veg and fruit, cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks.

Perhaps get yourself some shaped biscuit cutters to suit the theme you have gone for and use them to make shaped sandwiches.


Blueberry cupcake





Use china teapots, teacups and saucers for soft drinks. Kids love pouring their own!

If you are concerned about breakages there are lots of pretty paper cups available to buy, but in our experience very few breakages happen, and they love to use the proper cups and saucers.




Along with traditional games like ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ (always goes down well!) and musical bumps, have a couple of organised activities planned to give the children a bit of sitting down time (and a moment of relative calm for you!).

Perhaps bake some vanilla cupcakes and get the kids to decorate them. Disposable icing bags are inexpensive, add a few ‘sprinkles’ or chopped chocolate to decorate, put a named cocktail stick flag in each and they can eat them with their party tea.

Or get some stiff card and cut our photo frame shapes, let the kids decorate them with glitter, coloured pens, feathers etc.


Mackenzie's 2nd birthday party





Consider strings of bunting and petals or beads sprinkled on the table, name place cards for the afternoon tea and fairy lights.

If you have a specific theme then browse the internet for decoration ideas to complement it, there are lots of ideas out there.




Making your own birthday cake can seem a bit daunting but might not be as tricky as you think.

There are lots of simple design ideas available online for you to have a go at, most come with step by step guides, and, let’s face it – the cake is only on display for a few minutes, then cut, packed and wrapped to take home!

So not worth too much of a sweat!




Party bags


Paper bags can be bought online or in lots of the discount shops and supermarkets.

They are a great way to create personalised party bags that are a bit different to the norm. Get some stamps, stickers and coloured pens are decorate according to the theme. Stencil or write kids names on them and make sure they put the result of their craft activity in the bags before they go home.


Timing plan


It might sound a bit dull when you are talking about a kids party – but having an idea of what you are going to do and when can make a massive difference to how well it all goes, and how stressed you feel!

Have a couple of ‘group’ party games to get things going, something like pass the parcel or musical bumps. Break up the party games by scheduling in craft or baking activities.

When you serve the food will depend on the timing of the party, half way through normally works well, a bit more relative calm for you.


Be brave…give it a go and let us know how it goes!


Alice x


Photographs: Nathan Jones via Flickr Creative Commons, Anders Ruff via Flickr Creative Commons, Alice’s Vintage Pantry



Other articles by Alice ……

Easy chocolate cake recipe

Easy Valentine heart biscuits

The perfect Tiramisu recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Blueberry cheesecake cupcakes

Sticky toffee cupcake with salted caramel cream

Chocolate & chilli cupcake recipe

Introducing National Cupcake Week – top tips for baking the perfect cupcake

Creating the perfect vintage afternoon tea

Bake the perfect sponge cake

How to pack a healthy lunch box

Auntie Eva’s Parkin recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Mini strawberry shortcake recipe











Family friendly Jan-Feb 2015

On the look out for family fun


Family Friendly


Read on to find out about the exciting family events for January and February, bought to us by our friends at Family Friendly North West.


Free family activities at IWM North


Grandmother & Grandaughter


IWM North, The Quays, Manchester

Every Saturday and Sunday throughout January 2015

FREE entry, all ages

Discover this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme Keeping The Memory Alive by decorating a fabric square with your favourite memory, to add to IWM North’s patchwork Memories quilt.

Join in with storytelling every weekend at:

10.30am: Hear about a group of shapes who learn to get along despite their differences.


1.30pm: Meet Nancy and hear her tales of life in the Land Army in the Second World War. Learn about her wartime experiences away from home and making new friends, especially with a timid horse called Rufus.

For more information please visit


The Tiger Who Came To Tea


The Tiger Who Came To Tea


The Lowry, Salford

Friday 23rd & Saturday 24th January 2015

Tickets: £15.00

Suitable for ages 3+

The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be?

Following a smash-hit West End season, the tea-guzzling tiger is back on the road in this delightful family show, packed with oodles of magic, sing-a-long songs and clumsy chaos!


A stunning stage adaptation of Judith Kerr’s much loved picture book. This is the classic tale of teatime mayhem!


For more information and to book visit

or call 0843 208 6000


Siberia Big Saturday at Manchester Museum




Manchester Museum, Oxford Rd

Saturday 24th January 2015, 11am – 4pm

Drop-in, FREE*, suitable for all ages

Visit the Museum’s Siberia: At the Edge of the World exhibition.


Discover more about the culture and unique nature of this vast, mysterious land; one and a half times bigger than Europe. Enjoy activities for all the family, from traditional music and arts to a guided tour of the exhibition. Meet curators and see objects from the Museum’s stores.

If you can’t wait until the Museum opens at 10am, you can come along to the Museum’s Early Opening for Early Birds – enjoy self-led tours of the Siberia: At the Edge of the World exhibition, object handling and craft activities. (Just the temporary exhibition will be open at 9am – you can explore the rest of the Museum from 10am).

Suitable for families with children under 5s and their older siblings.

For more information visit


I Believe in Unicorns


I belive in unicorns


The Lowry, Salford

Thursday 19th – Sunday 22nd February 2015

Tickets: £15.00

Captivating theatre this half-term!

Tomas didn’t like books or stories. Stories were just for “Little Snotties”.

He was happier clambering in the mountains like a goat or tobogganing with his Dad. That was until the Unicorn Lady came to town and reeled him in with her irresistible magic tales.


But then disaster struck and put everything that mattered most in Tomas’s life in terrible danger….I Believe in Unicorns is a spellbinding and moving story by one of our greatest storytellers.

For more information and to book visit

or call 0843 208 6000


The Cat In The Hat


The Cat In The Hat


Palace Theatre, Oxford Road, Manchester

Tuesday 7th – Wednesday 8th April 2015

Tickets: £11.90 – £13.90

Suitable for ages 3+

From the moment his tall, red and white striped hat appears around the door, Sally and her brother know that The Cat in the Hat is the funniest, most mischievous cat they have ever met.


With the trickiest of tricks and craziest of ideas, he turns a rainy afternoon into an amazing adventure. But what will mum find when she gets home?

Based on the much loved book by Dr Seuss, The Cat in the Hat is a lively and engaging first theatre experience for young children aged 3+.

For more information and to book visit or call 0844 871 3019


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)




Places to see Santa in Manchester

Tracking down the big man with the beard in grotto’s around the region


There’s nothing quite like the look on a child’s face when they get to meet Santa. For some it will be joy, for others terror – beards can be very frightening.

Sometimes it can feel like Santa’s in more places than Harry Potter with an egg timer, so to make things a little bit easier we’ve rounded up our top places to visit Santa in and around Manchester this Christmas.


Chill Factore


Let your little ones have a magical experience meeting Santa Claus on real snow! At Santa’s Snow Grotto children can visit Santa any day in December up until Christmas Eve and can take part in a number of activities including sledging and tubing.


Santa at Chill Factore

Visit to find out more.


National Football Museum


As everyone knows, Santa is the merry manager of Lapland FC and as the one manager who looks forward to getting the sack, he’s eager to meet as many children as possible during December so he can give out lots of presents.


Grotto at National Football Museum

Visit to find out more.


Manchester Arndale


For only £4.50 children can visit the Santa’s Christmas Tree Star Grotto located in the Arndale’s Hallé Square and receive a magical present from the big man himself.

The grotto is open throughout the week and at weekends.


Manchester Arndale Grotto

Find out more here


House of Fraser, Deansgate, Manchester


The sixth floor of the Deansgate department store has been transformed into a winter wonderland where elves take children through to find Santa sitting by a fire in his living room.

It’s open from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday and from 11am to 5pm on Sundays.

Entry costs £6 including a toy or you can treat yourself to breakfast with Santa too for £7.50. Photos cost £10.00.


Intu Trafford Centre


Britain’s only The Snowman and The Snowdog Christmas Grotto can be found in Barton Square, complete with an experiential The Snowman and The Snowdog film sequence, gifts and activities, surrounded by all sorts of other festive fun and entertainment.


Trafford Centre Christmas Grotto

Visit to find out more


Cheshire Reindeer Lodge


It’s not every day that your kids get to meet a reindeer – never mind a whole farm of them! Not only can they pay Santa a visit at the all-weather grotto, but they can also get the chance to feed the reindeer and get their photo taken in a traditional sleigh.


Cheshire Reindeer Lodge Grotto

Discover more about the Lodge located next to Cheshire Oaks here:


East Lancashire Railways Santa Specials


Enjoy a festive family day out aboard the East Lancashire Railway between now and Christmas Eve.

Santa Special East Lancashire Railway


The Bury train station and train carriages will be beautifully decorated with Christmas trees and fairly lights making it the perfect setting for a magical adventure around Lancashire countryside.

Santa will make his way through the carriages saying hello to the children along with his team of Christmas fairies.


For prices and information follow this link:


Christmas Bricktacular LEGOLAND


Visit a Lego-built structure of Santa at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre as part of a festive tour which will include thousands of glittering lights and spectacular Christmas trees!

Information can be found at:


Breakfast and Tea with Father Christmas at Altrincham Garden Centre


Follow up a family breakfast or tea with Father Christmas with the ultimate personal shopping experience as your tots use Santa’s expertise to pick out their perfect present and finish with a gingerbread decorating master class. Bookings can be made at:


Zippy Santa in Albert Square


And finally – there’s always the ‘Zippy Santa’ who overlooks the Christmas Markets in Albert Square from his vantage point high above on the Town Hall!


Santa Santa on Manchester Town Hall Andy Hay flickr


If you know of a grotto or Santa opportunity that we’ve missed then please leave a comment at the bottom of the page.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Chill Factore, National Football Museum, Legoland Discovery Centre, Intu Trafford Centre, Cheshire Reindeer Lodge, Manchester Arndale, East Lancs Railway, Bart Fields Flickr Santa, Dryfish Flickr santa sleigh, Andy Hay Flickr santa in Manchester





Halloween face painting tutorials

 A bit of Halloween inspiration


Halloween Witch face painting


While some children find Halloween a bit scary – others absolutely love it.

My Godboy Sam (6 years) can’t wait to carve out pumpkins and watch Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride (again)!

I’ve done a bit of Internet digging and there are literally thousands of scary and repulsive face painting tutorials out there.



However, I thought you might find these cute little tutorials from Woolworths the most helpful!


1. The Corpse Bride





2. A little pumpkin




3. Frankenstein





4. Bony old skeleton





5. Cute little witch





I hope you find these useful.

Happy Halloween!


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photos: Pinterest (via craftgawker)



Other Halloween articles:





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