Skip to main content
A Contact guide to fun family activities within walking distance of Hope Mill Theatre.

This December Contact is dusting down its glitter ball and ironing its spandex all in preparation for its journey into The Forest of Forgotten Discos! Running from December 11-23 at the intimate and award-winning Hope Mill Theatre in New Islington, this year’s Contact family Christmas offering – integrating sign language and visual storytelling into all its performances – puts the FUN into funky for everybody aged 5-105!

Alongside The Forest Of Forgotten Discos! performances in December, Contact will be running accompanying arts and crafts workshops for children of all ages in the cafe area of Hope Mill Theatre. At the end of each workshop will be a pre-show bear-hunt to hype up the excitement for the mystery disco extravaganza to come.

Hope Mill Theatre

Tucked away amongst the historic cotton mills of Ancoats, just 5 minutes out of the hustle and bustle of Manchester’s hip Northern Quarter, Hope Mill Theatre is one of the landmark cultural institutions that is causing the cobbled streets of New Islington to become one of Manchester’s swiftest up-and-coming districts.

New Islington

Stepping off the tram at New Islington you are greeted on the one side by the harsh yet iconic Manchester red brick industrial architecture, and on the other, a secluded waterside marina complete with grassy parkland, quirky stone seats and sun loungers.

On the water itself is a boating community moored up in a selection of narrowboats. On the water’s edge is a primary school, and just along the towpath there’s a nursery beneath the now-iconic Chips building, reflecting the increasing number of families now settling in the area.

This area is full of not-to-miss fun family activities to fit in around your trip to Hope Mill to see The Forest Of Forgotten Discos!


Perfect for a crisp December family afternoon treat, Pollen is a sourdough and viennoiserie artisan bakery, first opened in a former railway arch in Piccadilly. Now at its new waterfront home, just a 10 minute stroll from Hope Mill, Pollen is Manchester’s most delicious freshly baked secret.


If you’re looking for a more savoury treat then GRUB at Mayfield Depot brings world inspired Manchester street food from Friday through till Sunday, and every Sunday GRUB goes 100% vegan. Entry is completely free and, being just a 15 minute walk from Hope Mill, GRUB would make a tasty stop off point pre or post show.

Clue HQ & Lucardo 

If the games of The Forest Of Forgotten Discos! have left you wanting for more Clue HQ and Lucardo both offer immersive live escape games and mystery experiences in the New Islington/Ancoats area.

Greater Manchester Police Museum

For something a little more sedate and educational, the Greater Manchester Police Museum is located in one of the city’s earliest police stations lovingly restored to reflect the reality of policing in the late 1800’s/ 1900’s. See where Manchester’s criminals were charged, fingerprinted and discover the cells that were often packed with twelve men on a busy night.

Etihad Stadium

If football’s your thing then you can’t miss out on the Etihad Stadium and City Football Academy Tour just a 10 minute walk from Hope Mill. Here you’ll have the chance to see where the First Team, Women’s Team, EDS Team and boys and girls Academy Teams train. This tour will give you a 360 degree look at the life of a City footballer, taking in the training facilities and gaining a real understanding of how footballers prepare themselves for big games. And to top it off, under 5s go free!

Cat Cafe

For the feline lovers amongst you, Manchester’s Cat Café is a stress free space where cats and humans meet, chill and unwind. These furry friends are super popular so its best to get yourself booked in early.

Projekts Mcr

Slightly further afield, Projekts Mcr is a skate coaching centre, 20 minute walk from Hope Mill. Based at the skatepark under the Mancunian Way flyover, on the edge of Manchester city centre, it’s an awesome piece of urban architecture that’s worth visiting even if you can’t use the ramps. Sessions start from just £4 an hour and there is fun to be had here for children and adults of all ages.

Christmas Market

And of course November will see the return of Manchester’s famous Christmas Market. This will be the last year the market is based in Albert Square. No December family outing in Manchester is complete without a stroll down the fairylit streets and picking up a few wintery treats.

The Forest of Forgotten Discos! Runs from Tues 11 December to Sunday 23 December. Tickets are on sale now priced £13/£7.