On our recent trip to Manchester we crammed quite a lot into the first day. With the Bee in the city art trail around the city centre we could check out other potential places to visit. The National Football Museum in the cathedral gardens area was a suggestion and despite N still not being keen on football, he was happy to go in.
If you’re football fans, then the National Football Museum is a must, but even for those who can take or leave football, there’s plenty to discover and enjoy.
The museum was free entry when we went, although they did suggest a donation. I’d expected to see a donation box at the end of the visit, but didn’t see one, so if you want to donate, you have to do it on entry which is a bit of a faff, and you feel under pressure as well. You can also pay for a Plus ticket which lets you do the interactive skills activities as you go round the museum. Your achievements get recorded so you can compete against your friends or family and you can access it online afterwards with your ticket. (Edit 2022- there’s now admissions costs, although if you’re a City of Manchester resident you can still get in free by showing proof of address.
Around the museum there are different displays and exhibitions that change regularly. There were also football skills sessions outside when we were there. Some things are chargable for example, you could get a badge made of your children’s choice – we couldn’t be bothered to queue as the children in front couldn’t decide what team they wanted on their badges. And you could have your photo taken with trophies on display.
The ground floor currently has the Playing for a Draw exhibition which is a collection of football comics over the years. Really interesting to see, although the children weren’t that excited by it.
As well as displays of football jerseys, balls and boots, there are areas dedicated to football managers, famous players, teams. We found the behind the scenes medical injury and locker room area one of the most interesting parts. The boys enjoyed finding out about different footballing injuries, looking at broken bone x rays, and smelling some of the smells of the game.
We also laughed at some of the vintage football games that were on display as well as reminiscing on some of the former players and managers, and some philosophical quotes.
There are lots of interactive screens and games – the boys were surprised to see how many football team nicknames I knew. There’s plenty to keep children entertained. But the museum really comes into its own for fans through the years.
If you’ve an under 5, there’s a discovery area for them, to sit down and relax and a bit of soft play clambering.
Of course you leave through the gift shop and there’s plenty of football memorabilia and souvenirs for all football aficionados. Leaving through Café Football, you can stay for food or drinks, or even play table football if you get a ball from the bar.
I could have spent a lot more time there on the other floors if we’d not had the boys with us. If you had a football mad child, the National Football Museum would be a great place to hold a football party. Or even just to take them for a cheap day out.
- It’s free (donations requested)
- Great for all ages and buggy/wheelchair friendly (in a slow lift)
- Different types of displays – interactive, old fashioned billboards and displays, physical activities
- Covering national as well as some international football, and all divisions
- You can upgrade to add the challenge activities by buying the Plus options
- We only spent 1.5 hours there, but we could have spent half a day or more
- There’s temporary displays and exhibits
- Central location good for public transport and walking
- Agree in advance how much you have to spend in the gift shop
- There are some activities that cost money and could be pricy
- No immediate parking outside.
- It’s quite dark inside on some floors so keep an eye on children running off or those who don’t like lighting
- If you’re not a football fan and aren’t interested at all, stay at home because the rest of the family won’t want to leave
Have you ever been? Do you know of any other good sports themed museums?
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