There’s nothing better than snuggling up with a good movie at Christmas. But what if you could mix the comfort of home with the excitement of going out?
Well, Manchester’s new pop-up cinema might just have found the festive fairy dust to make it happen. For four weekends, the Magical Christmas Movie Experience has taken over Mayfield Depot, an old railway siding by Piccadilly train station, and turned it into a family-friendly cinema experience featuring popular Christmas classics such as, Elf, The Holiday, Love Actually, Home Alone, and Santa Claus The Movie.
The experience begins once you step off the street, where you’re greeted by two little elves who direct you through a secret door into the first of the covered railway arches. This one has been decorated as a frosty forest and it’s here the excitement builds for little-ones as they make their way through a covered igloo to be greeted by a jolly Father Christmas relaxing in an armchair outside his toy workshop.
The space is open for an hour before the film starts giving time for youngsters to take part in some of the crafts in the workshop area. These include, building wooden toy boats, creating origami stars and watching pots being thrown on a potter’s wheel.
There’s a food stall area serving a range of high-quality street food – yes, they really are serving half a lobster in a take-out paper carton. There are also sweet treats – doughnut stacks, strawberries and cream, popcorn – and you can take all your munchies into the movie next door.
The cinema area is in one long railway arch, with the cinema screen at the far end, where you’ll later exit. Near the front is giant bean-bag seating, for you to snuggle up under one of the blankets provided. The main space is heated by calor-gas heaters, so it isn’t as cold as being outdoors. But we’d still advise you wrap-up warm if you’re sitting still for a couple of hours.
There is general chair seating behind the bean bags and a tabled area further back, where you can eat your food and enjoy the show.
The full-immersive experience with a choir wasn’t on when we visited, and you may want to check before you go what the event includes for your screening. We went for The Greatest Showman and it was a relaxed atmosphere where people could sing along if they wanted to. As the credits rolled there was a huge round of applause and lasered lights shone across the roof for a magical finale. It’s one of the most comfortable and fun pop-up movie experiences we’ve had in the city, and its good-cheer is spreading beyond the festive run, with all blankets being donated to the city’s homeless community after the final screening.
Tickets for all the films start from £14.99. For more details visit www.magicalchristmasmovieexperience.com
The Greatest Showman
Date: Fri 23-Sun 25 November, Fri 14 December
Time: times vary
The Greatest Showman Sing-a-long
Date: Fri 23-Sat 24 November
Time: Fri 6pm, Sat 1.30pm
Date: Thu 29 November-Sun 2 December
Time: times vary
Date: Thu 6 December, Sat 15 December
Time: Thu 7pm, Sat 9pm
Date: Fri 7-Sat 8 December, Sat 15 December
Time: times vary
Date: Fri 7 December
The Polar Express
Date: Sat 8 December, Sat 15 December
Date: Sat 8 December, Fri 14 December
Time: Sat 5.30pm, Fri 6pm
Home Alone 2
Date: Sun 9 December
Date: Thu 13 December
Santa Claus The Movie
Date: Sun 16 December