• Lydia Ferrari Kehoe

MediaCityUK: The site in Greater Manchester that offers a family friendly day out

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

- MediaCityUK is located in Salford, Greater Manchester

- The site houses the BBC, ITV and Dock 10 as well as the University of Salford

- For the Christmas season it has a full size Ice Rink, a Dr Suess-inspired wonderland, Christmas shows at the Lowry Theatre and a festive market. 

Rating ★★★★☆

MediaCityUK can offer a lot to a family looking for a pre-Christmas day trip, but if you don't plan it properly beforehand, it's likely spending an entire day there won't keep you all entertained. How to make the most of it? Visiting other facilities in the area like the Imperial War Museum, The Lowry Outlet and Theatre, Old Trafford and if you're willing to brave the cold - the Helly Hansen Watersports Centre. Depending on your interests and budget, you'll have to be selective because there's a lot of choice. You'll be restricted if you have children under the age of 9 because they aren't allowed on one of the main attractions - the BBC tour. But not to worry! There's an alternative tour for them with more details below in the 'other attractions' section. Keep reading to get all the information you need about a trip to the Salford Quays.

What’s There?

MediaCityUK is home to the BBC, ITV, the University of Salford and the UK’s leading television facility - Dock 10. Some of the UK’s most loved programmes and TV shows are produced here, including Blue Peter, Dragon’s Den, Mastermind and CBBC. For sports fans, Match of the Day and BBC Radio 5 Live are based in Quay House - one of three BBC buildings on site. These are just a few of the facilities located in this 200 acre metropolis, which also houses The Lowry Outlet (shopping centre), The Lowry Theatre and The Piazza - the outdoor space at the heart of the city which is currently host to the Christmas Market.

Walking tour 

BBC and CBBC Tours 

The BBC tours are one of the most attractive features at MediaCityUK, and would be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in TV, radio, or just a genuine curiosity for how media production works. For the little ones, the interactive CBBC tour will have their imaginations running wild, they even get to have a go at TV presenting! This tour is suitable for kids aged 6-11, so no one misses out. More info on what's involved on this tour and prices can be found here.

The BBC tour is led by guides that are witty and engaging. They’re extremely knowledgeable and give you a look behind the curtains at the BBC. The tour brings you to both TV and radio studios, and allows you to make your own news and weather bulletin in their interactive studio space. It’s common to see celebrities knocking about the area too, especially the BBC buildings themselves. On the day that I visited, Russell Kane came into the studio next door to us and I saw Chris Gascoyne (Peter Barlow from Corrie) getting a coffee in Dock 10.

The tour is reasonably priced with a family ticket costing £38 (2 adults+2kids/3 adults+1 child). It runs at 10:30am, 12:30pm and 3pm on weekdays, with three additional tours at 10:45am, 12:45pm and 3:15pm at weekends. The tour itself lasts roughly 90 minutes. An important thing to note is that rucksacks, large bags and shopping bags are NOT allowed. They don’t have facilities for you to leave them while you go on the tour, so save yourself the hassle and don’t bring them.

Food and Drink 

There are a lot of options available, whether you want a sandwich and coffee, a sit down meal or something to-go. If you’re looking for a cafe there’s Costa, Pret A Manger, Catena, Grindsmith and Penelope’s Deli. For an on-the-go option, there’s a WHS Smith beside Penelope’s Deli in Dock 10, or alternatively a Booths Store just around the corner. 

After a long day of walking around, sitting down to eat and refuel is probably on most people’s agenda. Right beside the University of Salford there’s a Prezzo and Wagamamas right next door to each other - but both are on the expensive side if you’re feeding a family. There’s more reasonably priced options in the Christmas market located in the Piazza - a German Food stand sells burgers and schnitzels for £4.50, you can get a curry from £6.50 and fish and chips for under £10. 

My recommendation? Head to the Lowry Outlet. It has more options (all of which can be found here) for cheaper prices. I went to the Harvester for lunch and had a halloumi wrap, chips and salad, which cost a very reasonable £6.99. They have an impressive nine menus in total (all of which can be found here) to suit any dietary needs and keep the kids full too.

Other attractions in the area

There's a LOT to do in the area and it would be a waste not to utilise what's there! Old Trafford will appeal to a lot of football fans and is worth a visit if you're a fan. There's a tour available for non-matchdays which brings you around the Stadium, Museum and includes a dining experience. More information can be found here.

For the adventurous families, the Helly Hansen Watersports Centre is just a 10 minute walk away. Don't let the name deceive you, as this facility has an indoor rock climbing wall too - which might be just what the kids need to burn off some energy. Just across the MediaCityUK footbridge is the Imperial War Museum North. With free entry, it gives you a chance to learn more about your history and features some very impressive exhibitions, including the current Yemen: Inside A Crisis, which runs until January 26th 2020.

Should I take the kids here 

Simple answer: YES!

If even a few of the attractions mentioned above interest you, then you'll absolutely enjoy a day trip here. Pick out what you like the look of beforehand, otherwise you risk running out of time on the day!

How to get there 

MediaCity is accessible by virtually every transport method there is, but for families I’d suggest by car, train or tram. You can also get there by bus and bike. 

The best route to take is via the M60. Take Junction 12 for the M602, exit at Junction 3 and follow the sign posts for The Quays. There's 5 car parks in total, with the Lowry Outlet being the cheapest. You can find more information on parking and view the map here.

For more information on buses, the Metrolink and trains click here.

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