Everyone knows that Manchester is the place to be merry. Whether you’re doing your Christmas shopping or just want to soak up the atmosphere, the city offers so much to do during the festive season. And no excuse is needed for a party in Manchester, especially at this time of year! So here are a few ideas to make your Christmas a cracker.
1. WE HAVE CHRISTMAS BEER!
Cast out that Scrooge with a festive beer. There’s plenty of German beer to be had at the Christmas markets as well as local breweries offering up some festive specials. Hyde’s have their First Frost, made from lightly kilned pale ale malt to allow for a pale session bitter. And then there’s the Ragging Yeti Warmer from Fool Hardy Ales for a bourbon porter with plenty of bite! Just look around and you’ll find plenty of festive treats to choose from.
2. CHRISTMAS PANTOMIMES
Christmas isn’t Christmas without a pantomime (oh yes it is!) so choose from Torvill and Dean in Cinderella at The Opera House or Dick Whittington at The Dancehouse. For more festive-themed theatre for all the family, Mr Popper’s Penguins is at The Lowry or if you fancy a magical story about animals, adventure and the power of dreams, Into The Woods is at The Royal Exchange.
3. MARKETS! MARKETS! MARKETS!
The Manchester Christmas Markets begin on Saturday, 14th November for the 17th successive year. There are more stalls than ever before, with ten sites across the city centre. Expect something from all over the world, all within walking distance of each other in the little log cabins everyone loves! This year, Cathedral Gardens will be home to the 16m high windmill bar which used to be in Albert Square. So prepare yourself for greater gifts, funnier festivities and finer food than ever before! And if the Christmas Markets aren’t enough for you, don’t forget the Makers Market at Spinningfields and the Enchanted Christmas Market at The Lowry until December 20th
4. ICE SKATING
With a polite reminder on the website that ‘Penguins Cannot be Reserved in Advance’, you know that the outdoor ice rink is set to be more exciting than ever! This year it’s at New Bailey, just over the bridge from Spinningfields. Sessions last 45 minutes and you can book online, so it’s an ideal way to avoid overcrowding and ensure you have a great time. So whether it’s family fun, a date or a works bash with colleagues, get down to the ice rink this Christmas! The grand opening takes place on November 12th and it’s open until 9pm so you can skate under the stars.
5. CHRISTMAS MADE PERFECT
Manchester is the place to get crafty at Christmas. The excitingly-titled ‘Exploring Wonderland’ exhibition is on at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre from the 21st November right up until Christmas Eve. This includes festive live music, handmade gifts and hot spiced cider (complete with cute Christmas tartlets at the Oak St café bar) – all surrounded by beautiful Victorian market features!
6. A VERY HALLE CHRISTMAS!
Get into the festive mood with Manchester’s very own Halle Orchestra who will be wishing you a happy Christmas with music around the city, including their ‘Halle Christmas Cracker’ where you are encouraged to sing along to favourites including ‘Jingle Bell Rock’! Conductor Roderick Dunk is all set to impress with his ensemble, including guest vocalist Elin Mahan Thomas, proving Manchester really is the place to be for those impressive festive tunes.
7. WINTER WONDERLAND
An indoor Christmas theme park? Near Manchester? Yes! The two come together for the UK’s biggest indoor Winter Wonderland at EventCity, next to The Trafford Centre, from December 12th. There will be rides and attractions for the whole family to enjoy. Plus there is just one amazing ticket price and it’s operated on a session basis so there’s no overcrowding! It’s the perfect place for the kids to meet Santa and The Sooty Show is back for the third year running!
8. CHILL FACTORe
Christmas isn’t Christmas without some winter weather. It snows 365 days a year at Chill Factore (Trafford Centre), where you can enjoy all manner of winter sports activities including skiing and snowboarding.
9. CHRISTMAS BLITZ AT IWM NORTH
In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Manchester Christmas Blitz, the Imperial War Museum in Salford is taking you back in time to show you what life was like in 1940s Britain. So prepare to step into a festively decorated wartime home and learn what it was like to face air raids, alarm calls and the cold. Tours take place daily throughout December at 3.30 pm (excluding the 24, 25 and 26th)
10. THE GROTTO AT THE ARNDALE
Get close to Santa right in the heart of the city centre! Father Christmas comes to Manchester and his grotto in The Arndale Centre will be open to good boys and girls from the 16th November. And it’s not just a grotto but a giant star! Expect beautiful decorations and when you book online kids will receive a gift and get to meet the big man himself.