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12 reasons to visit Manchester city centre this Christmas

There's many reasons Manchester is considered the UK capital of Christmas...

Once again, as the undisputed capital of Christmas, Manchester has more than six weeks of fantastic Yuletide celebrations to look forward to. Our beloved city, that has over half a million inhabitants’, turns into a winter wonderland. Strings of lights dawn the streets, the shop windows are full of baubles and Christmas joy is everywhere! Make sure to stop by our festive favourites in Manchester this Christmas!

1. Christmas Markets

Manchester Christmas Markets

Manchester’s Christmas markets had 500,000 visitors in the opening week and are known as the best in the country with over 300 stalls across the city this year! Grab a german sausage and mulled wine as you stroll through and soak up the festive spirit – open until Sunday 21st December.

The markets aren’t all outside, don’t snub the Off the High Street Christmas Markets at Castlefield Market, off Deansgate on Liverpool Road, where all the makers and traders are local. Open indoors, out of the bitter cold, on Fridays to Sundays until 21st December.

2. Kendals (House of Fraser)

Kendals Manchester

Back by popular demand, Santa’s Grotto at House of Fraser is back! Entry is £6 including a toy and tickets can be purchased at the store on the 6th floor. Open until Dec. 24th.

While you’re in their, why not get styled with a Christmas jumper? Or have a bite to eat Italian style in San Carlo Cicchetti.

3. Boutique shops


We all know Manchester is great for shopping. Still need to pick up those last few gifts?

Ditch the high street and support Manchester’s independents this Christmascheck out the Northern Quarter to pick out one of a kind pressies at boutique shops like Incognito, Magma, Junkshop, Oklahoma & Menikmati.

4. Selfridges Exchange Square

Selfridges is like Christmas heaven over the holidays! With a range of festive events running all throughout the season, they make your Christmas shopping experience truly magical! Father Christmas and his elf are in store every weekend from 12-4. You can even have your frangrance engraved with personal messages!

5. Manchester Arndale

Manchester Arndale Christmas

Santa’s Grotto in the Arndale returns this year! The Christms Tree Star Grotto in Halle Square is open. Tickets are from £4.50 per child.

The Arndale has events lined up all holiday season long including carol concerts and the charity gift wrappers are also back in the centre this year in aid of Reuben’s Retreat, Radio Lollipop Manchester and The Joshua Wilson Brain Tumour Charity.

6. Cosmopolitan Bars & Restaurants

Chaophraya Manchester

Now competing with London, Manchester’s food & drink scene has blown up this year!

There isn’t many better ways to celebrate than with family and friends than live music and a delectable Italian meal at Don Giovanni’s. Every Thursday & Friday, there is live music from 7pm – and check out their three course Italian influenced Christmas menu.

Afterwords head over to The Liquor Store for some of THE best Christmas cocktails in the city and friendly Mancunian atmosphere.

A favourite hang out of Tony Wilson in the 90’s, Atlas Bar has over 130 gins from around the world and has an eclectic atmosphere on Friday & Saturday nights.

Take in Manchester from the terrific views of the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel and sample their new Mancunian heritage-inspired winter cocktail menu in the Cloud 23 bar.

Another awesome view of Manchester is from 20 Stories through a cocktail glass on the 19th floor before having a multi-award winning dinner in their restaurant.

The ever popular San Carlo Group have opened a brand new bar/restaurant; San Carlo Fumo on St Peter’s Sq, delivers expertly created cocktails that compliments the food perfectly.

Celebrate with some champagne, cocktails and/or afternoon tea at The Lowry Hotel. Then feast your eyes on the brand new Turkey Burger at All Star Lanes after a game of bowling, it’s the stuff of Christmas dreams.

Or head to the Northern Quarter to stay cozy in The Whiskey Jar, hit up El Capo next door for a chilli beer and some South-American scran.

More of this later…

7. Manchester Craft and Design Centre

Manchester Craft And Design Centre Hamper

Head over to The Manchester Craft and Design Centre for a packed calendar of festive events and to pick up some local and handmade gifts.

8. Harvey Nichols Manchester

Harvey Nichols Christmas Windows

If if hasn’t already, Harvey Nichols will be sure to catch your eye with its biggest window scheme of the year, The Enchanted Forest. Mannequins transform into majestic woodland creatures, while autumnal beams of light reflect from metallic trunks and tendrils break free from the confinement of the windows, shoot through the glass reaching heights of 12ft, transforming the building’s façade into a magical forest canopy.

The luxury department store is set to tantalise your tastebuds with a range of seasonal set menus to get visitors well and truly into the spirit of Christmas. Its Second Floor Restaurant will be offering a five-course tasting menu with mulled wine nightcap and mini mince pies (£30 per person), while the Second Floor Brasserie is serving a three-course set menu with mulled wine on arrival (£20 per person). Both menus are available until Wednesday 24th December.

As well as its festive menus, Harvey Nichols Manchester also has its gift offering all wrapped up with its exclusive Christmas Hampers. These are available in store and range from The Dandy – aimed at dapper chaps – for £85, to The Ultimate Indulgence – overflowing with luxury culinary goodies – costing £2,000. Or visit the Second Floor Foodmarket to take advantage of the bespoke hamper service to make the perfect luxury gift to suit all tastes.

You’ll find the ultimate edit of gifts For Him, For Her and For Foodies in the dedicated gifting area on Womenswear, bursting with stocking fillers, luxury Christmas decorations and festive fashion for the big day.

9. Bridgewater Hall

Bridgewater Hall Manchester

Nothing gets you in the mood for Christmas like a good old-fashioned sing song. This year, the Bridgewater Hall is once again hosting its festive family concert on Sunday 14th December, with sing-alongs and fun-filled seasonal surprises for all who attend. Hosted by Jamie Phillips and Alasdair Malloy, tickets cost from £13 and can be purchased online from:

10. Spinningfields

Spinningfields Winter Icerinkpeople

Spinningfields is packed full of all things Christmas this year! Slip, slide and glide across Manchester’s only outdoor ice rink, shop til’ you drop at the Christmas markets and hide out in a cozy winter pop up like Bar Hütte or The Teepee at The Oast House with a mulled cider. Take a spicy trip to Thailand without leaving Spinningfields and eat in Thaikhun.

11. Buzzing nightlife

Manchester’s night life is not to be taken lightly. We really know how to party and during the holiday season it only gets wilder. However, there are certain rules that apply…

If drinking before 11am, it must be champagne. If drinking before 2pm, it must be a pint, hot cider or mulled wine at the Christmas Markets. Before 6, festive cocktails at The Liquor Store or one of the 130 gins at Atlas Bar followed by a bar crawl up to Deansgate.

Après 6pm, all rules are out the door! By this point you’ve probably lost your coat, hat & scarf so obviously you must resort to booze to keep you warm. Our favourite spots to party late into the night? Sip some scotch and The Whiskey Jar to warm yourself up, next door head to El Capo for bangin’ tunes to boogie til’ you just don’t care. Hit up MOJO Bar to dance on the tables and end up downstairs in the dirty yet exhilarating The Liar’s Club for a night NOT to remember.

12. Boutique Hotels

Eclectichotels GJS Rooftop Fireplace

Eclectic Hotels have got Christmas all wrapped up this year and are looking forward to celebrating the festive season in style.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the high street with friends or family after your long day of Christmas shopping and sit back and relax the cosy Dickensian festive atmosphere of Great John Street. Indulge in festive afternoon tea complete with finger sandwiches, homemade seasonal cakes and mulled wine.

Choose from a selection of magical Christmas packages with dazzling drinks, festive entertainment, decadent décor and culinary delights to make your party sparkle.

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