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By Jacqueline Grima
Photography: Natalie Carragher
Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery celebrated all things winter this weekend with a family-friendly Frost Fair. The event was a two day celebration of winter, art and togetherness and gave visitors of all ages a chance to take part in lots of exciting winter-themed activities within the gallery and its grounds.
Culture Park Keeper at the Whitworth Francine Hayfron told Humanity Hallows, “The Frost Fair is a celebration of winter, art and culture inspired by the Scandinavian concept of ‘Hygge’. Hygge is about cosiness, wellbeing and taking something ordinary and making it special, whether it be spending time with family and friends or simply enjoying a coffee and a piece of cake in the café. It’s about celebrating those special moments.”
Activities on offer at the event included Brass Babies sessions where younger children had the opportunity to take part in an exciting range of multi-sensory play activities. Their older siblings also had fun making silvery ice palaces and glittering ice crowns from a range of materials. The gallery’s Early Years Programme Co-ordinator Amy Jones said, “We like to have activities for the younger children here at the Whitworth. We run regular art baby and music baby sessions so we wanted to organise a special session for today.”
On hand to entertain the children and their parents during the activities were brass band Northern Brass, all alumni from the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), who played a variety of festive tunes.
Another activity on offer throughout the weekend was the Family Floristry Workshop, hosted by renowned florist Craig Bullock. Craig said, “We’re making silver birch stars for a Scandinavian wreath. Visitors can also learn how to make a bow and learn about using wire.”
Children entertained were also entertained by the team from the Manchester Children’s Book Festival (MCBF) who brought along their magical story-telling tent. Manchester Met Make A Difference Officer Lisa Bach said, “Today’s story-telling tent is themed around Hygge so it’s looking very cosy and snug inside. We are going to be telling the children lots of winter-themed stories beginning with Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon. We’ll also be doing some singing and dancing as well as other interactive activities.”
Other activities on offer at the event included art with the Whitworth Young Contemporaries, a creative programme led by and for young people aged 15 to 25, welly walks in the gallery grounds and face painting. Film fans could also enjoy a treat in the Whitworth’s outdoor cinema, which was showing a variety of seasonal films for all the family, including Moomins: Christmas is Coming.
Outside the gallery, visitors were treated to a special performance by Walk the Plank, a Salford-based group of artists and theatre makers who specialise in outdoor theatre and arts. The group’s very special guest was a huge Ice Queen, who delighted her audience with a magical and haunting display of pyrotechnics and even real snow! Children also got the chance to have some fun on the outdoor ice rink, aided by a team of helpful penguins.
Market stalls set up around the gallery’s grounds offered visitors the opportunity to buy some special gifts for the festive season. Stallholders included Zinc White, who make jewellery from recycled pencils and paintbrushes, Katherine Lees’ screen printed porcelain and Daisy Steele Illustration. There was also a beer tent and cocktail stall for the grown-ups and hungry guests could choose from a variety of food outlets including The Pasta Project, Scene Indian Street Kitchen, The Fritter Shack and Diamond Dogs.
The weekend finished with a fantastic firework display.
Check out the Manchester Children’s Book Festival gallery below.
For more information about events at the Whitworth, visit the gallery’s website.
The Manchester Children’s Book Festival team will be at Stanley Grove Primary Academy, 1pm – 4pm on Saturday 17th December for a free Let in the Stars Family Festival. The event will be followed by a lantern parade starting at the United Church of God, Rushford Street at 4.30pm.