Christmas Gift Guide: Manchester 'Experiences'

Something we all need to be doing, as difficult as it may be and as forgetful as we all our, is making efforts to reduce our environmental impact. 

By Alex Watson | December 3rd '19

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The biggest problem we have is our desire for everything in excess. The festive season is no different. We really go OTT. You only have to look around in mid-November, Christmas is getting earlier and earlier every year, decorations are getting more ridiculous and social media is causing people to buy mounds of presents to boast about on their Facebook posts. Like anyone cares. Well, this Christmas you can make small little changes to your gifting that’ll make big differences to the planet and your carbon footprint. The challenge is to give the gift of experience…   


Get locked in a room for 60 minutes with Breakout (we promise it’s fun) What do you get the person who has everything? FUN. Breakout for those that don’t know is an immersive, themed puzzle game where you get 60 minutes to get out of a room you’re trapped in. It’s the perfect gift for families, couples and single folk alike! Buy them a game for the new year and let them challenge themselves. You can make it even more eco-friendly and email your pals a gift card to a game. Find Out More   Pint, Point and Shoot at Point Blank We all have that one mate who deffo used to think they were Django. They’re usually the one on a night out who starts doing parkour. This is the perfect present for them. Let them release their wildest James Bond/assassin/ whatever else dreams at the UK’s simulation virtual shooting range a go. Book in, get a pint, point and shoot to your heart's content. Find Out More   Crystal Maze If organised fun is up your street, then it simply has to be Crystal Maze. A cracking gift for the group of pals that already have everything. Get down and get stuck in. It’s full of live very enthusiastic actors, running and probably some terrible puns. You will absolutely feel like you've gone back to the 90s complete with an array of fully immersive games to filthy paws into. You will also definitely need a drink after. Win-win.  Find Out More   A Gift for all the Family at Virtual Hideout Virtual Hideout I can guarantee is fun for all the family. Imagine seeing your grandad deal with loads of brand new technology or even your mum for that matter. There's plenty of different games to suit everyone's ages and skill level with VR. Really though, if I can do it, you definitely can too.  Find Out More   Get to Third Base with BaseMcr Remember the days of playing rounders in school and launching the wooden bat and accidentally hitting the whole class when you forgot to drop it? Ah - good times. Make it perfect for adult life by adding in a few bevs, music and book out your very own batting cage with you and 3 mates. Not only fun but a really good de-stressor and the perfect gift for that group of mates where you don’t really need to get them a present but something would be good. You’ll all leave feeling like a true Yankee. Find Out More  

Food & Drink

Travel to Spain without the Carbon Footprint at La Bandera As much as we all love travelling, our city is packed full of incredible and authentic restaurants offering cuisine that’ll trick you into thinking you’ve hopped on a flight to the destination. La Bandera is one of those. Using an impressive mix of local and Iberian products to create truly authentic Canarian and Spanish food, you can get a delicious taste of the Canary Islands just off the hustling and bustling King Street.   Find Out More   The Walled Gardens An unusual one but an exceptional gift for the foodies in your life. The evening sees you welcomed into a stranger’s living room in Whalley Range, sounds ominous and until this point, you will probably think it is too. But fast forward to the end of the evening, after you’ve tucked into 12 plant-based courses and you will 1. be beautifully comfortable in this new dining setting and 2. Have 7 new stranger-turned-friends. It’s a completely immersive dining experience filled with meeting new people, trying vegan food all in the comfort of professional chef Eddie Shepherd’s living room. Bring your own booze and leave the menu a surprise for the next guests! Find Out More   Manchester Beer and Cider Festival Back for its 7th year is CAMRA's Manchester Beer and Cider Festival and will feature beer from the rest of the UK and the world. You guessed it, tickets to this event is perfect for the beer lovers in your life. The event also has plenty of talks, the introduction of new themed bars and of course samples of the rarest traditional and modern beer and cider. Probably only works for everyone not doing Dry Jan though! Find Out More  

Learn a Skill

Quit the takeaways in 2020 with Zouk’s Indian Cooking Classes You know that friend who every year says ‘new year, new me’ and that they ‘promise they’ll learn to cook this year’? Well, give them no excuses in 2020 with Zouk’s ultimate Indian Cooking Classes. Or that friend who loves cooking, why not gift them the opportunity to broaden their culinary knowledge and skills with none other than teaching from a Manchester institution.  Find Out More   Make your very own Neapolitan Pizza from scratch with Salvis There are fewer greater gifts in life than a pizza. And how else can you make pizza better than becoming a master of the doughy craft?! Learn from the pros who've been doing this for years to create the crispy and cheesy good stuff that is Neapolitan Pizza. Tickets include a drink, nibbles and a full lesson in making the best dough and using a pizza oven. Find Out More   Learn How to Make Sourdough from Manchester’s Bread-perts Yep, that’s right. Learn how to make the very core of brunch, Sourdough, with Pollen Bakery. You’ll learn everything from how to maintain a healthy starter to proper fermentation processes and how different flours react in bread. Meaning you’ll become a ‘spert in making your own bread at home, living out your Nigella Lawson dreams. Guests can also expect breakfast on arrival, seasonal lunch and refreshments throughout. Of course, you’ll get to take home any bread you make on the day. What January diet? Big up DOUGH. Find Out More   Become a Master Gin Distiller Gin took over the country for the past, what, 5 years? Everyone and their nan loves it. And who can blame them, there are fewer calories in a G&T than a banana! What can get boring though, is simply buying someone a bland old bottle of gin. It’s basic and you’ve not put any thought into it, have you? That’s where Manchester’s newest distillery comes in. Updating their old distillery, creating a restaurant and a bar, Manchester Gin offers up the chance to make your own gin, get a tour of the distillery and drink a few G&T’s while you’re at it. Perfect for gin lovers.  Find Out More   Live out your ultimate Etsy dreams in Form Lifestyle Store The lovely folk at Form Lifestyle Store are hosting Lucy Charlotte Jewellery for an afternoon of silver ring making, teaching you all the skills you need to make your very own ring from scratch. A calming and exciting way to kick off the new year, the perfect gift for that one friend who loves jewellery but committing to buying them a ring is a bit too far.  Find Out More  

Sing & Dance

The Academy I’m slightly biased but there a few greater experiences than being at a gig. Be that finding a new band or seeing your absolutely favourite for the 6th time, all equally as good. I’ve handpicked some of the gigs at the start of next year that caught my eye. From seeing The Wombats’ lead singer’s solo career, Sigala or even an entire night dedicated to Bruce Springsteen - there is something for everyone. You can even see that guy who was on X Factor whose currently eating testicles in the Celeb Jungle next year! Find Out More   Salsa Dancing at Revolucion de Cuba If like me you have two left feet and can barely sway your hips on the beat, this is what we need to do in the new year. Learn how to dance! What better way to do it than mix exercise with Salsa music and finish your evening with a Cuban cocktail. There is no better way - I'll tell you that now. You'll find Salsa Dancing Classes available every Wednesday at Revolucion de Cuba. And guess what it's free! Just get your friend a voucher so they can get a fair few bevs after. Find Out More   Bongo's Bingo Get your eyes down, this is a very, very serious game of bingo. And more importantly, the gift of embarrassment to your bestie this year. That's what friends are for! Up for grabs are big cash prizes, probably some crap prizes and the promise of an awkward dance off. Let's just pray it's your mate who gets to do that and not you. If you've never been to Bongo's Bingo, it's quite quickly becoming an institution across the UK and you really need to get involved. Don't take your mum though. Find Out More  

Wellbeing & Fitness

Kick off the year with BLOK  There’s no time like the present (save it til January) to start a new fitness regime. New kid on the block (pun fully intended) shook up the gym class scene in Manchester bringing a taste of the capital to working out in Manchester. It’s chic, luxurious and just effortlessly cool. It’s that cool in fact, it really makes you wanna go and take full advantage of your pass. Including getting a coffee and a croissant in Cultureplex after your workout. What you can do though, is learn a whole new skill from boxing to yoga or even weight training - start the new year right.  Find Out More   Inspirit Mini Urban Wellness Retreat Perfect for those who will need a little TLC in January after a stressful Christmas. And what's more, it's jampacked into a relaxing 3.5 hour experience that will leave them feeling replenished and ready to take on the year. The wellness retreat is complete with lunch, healthy smoothies, a realigning 45-minute yoga session, a HIIT workout and even a mindfulness and breath workshop. Find Out More   Have a Mindful New Year A workshop designed to teach you the ways to creating sustainable intentions for 2020, it's perfect for those friends who always say 'New Year New Me' but never actually commit to changes. Led by a lifestyle and mindset coach and a counsellor and mindfulness teacher you know you're in the safe hands of controlling your mind and start the new year off well, without the pressure of any drastic changes. The event will also include guided meditation and a delicious lunch supplied by Foodwell. Find Out More