Have a merry Manchester Christmas!

From world famous Christmas Markets to ice villages and festive light trails, Manchester is the UK’s capital of Christmas and no mistake. And after a year of cancellations, we’re more than ready to celebrate in style for 2021.

Manchester’s Christmas Markets have been attracting visitors to the city centre since the late ‘90s. They’ve been voted the best in the UK, and with over 300 stalls offering everything from homemade crafts and toys to gifts and garments, not to mention the obligatory whopping bratwurst sausages and mugs of steaming mulled wine, it’s easy to see why. Millions of visitors have enjoyed the markets over the last two decades and they have become one of the UK’s most popular festive events, attracting fans from around the globe.

It’s not just about the markets, of course. The Christmas Lights switch-on has always marked the start of Christmas in the city, attracting a crowd of thousands as well as a host of famous faces. In recent years, the city has been home to a stunning Ice Village with a magical ice cavern full of spectacular sculptures, an ever-popular ice rink, and a raft of bars and food stalls. Or if a festive light trail is more your thing, the Lightopia festival features magical and multi-sensory interactive lights, lanterns and installations at Heaton Park. The immersive experience is the perfect Christmas adventure for family and friends.

Festive food and drink plays a big part in the city’s celebrations, of course. From special seasonal menus in the city’s restaurants to street food stalls lining the streets, local businesses go the extra mile to make Christmas special. No wonder Manchester is so popular for Christmas parties.

And in the true spirit of Christmas, the season also brings out the charitable side of big-hearted Mancs. From local restaurants feeding the homeless to charity appeals meaning disadvantaged children in Greater Manchester are able to wake to presents on Christmas Day, Mancunians know that Christmas is all about giving.

If all that’s not enough, the city has recently been voted one of the best Christmas destinations for 2021 in top international magazine, Forbes – the only UK destination to make the list. We can’t say we’re surprised.

Happy Christmas, Manchester!

Manchester Christmas Lights Switch On 2021

Date: 12 November 2021

The annual Christmas Light Switch-on event is usually one of the biggest events of the year attracting thousands of people into the city centre to start the festive season with a bang.

The pandemic has meant that the usual event could not go ahead this year, but three NHS workers will have the honour of pushing the button on this year’s lights, who will be joined by some of Manchester’s front-line health and social care workers.

The small, socially distanced event will take place at Manchester Cathedral on Wednesday, 2 December at 6.45pm and will be live on BBC Radio Manchester, BBC North West Tonight and live streamed on social media for people to enjoy safely from home.

Interviews with the NHS staff chosen to switch on this year’s lights will also appear on BBC Breakfast and on social media.

Manchester Christmas Markets 2021 dates and locations

It’s official! Manchester’s Christmas markets are the best in the UK. Manchester was the first city in the UK to host dedicated Christmas markets. 20 years later, we’re still the UK’s number one.

Christmas Markets 2021 opening dates

The markets will officially be open to the public from Friday 12 November to Wednesday 22 December 2021 with Covid safety measures in place.

Christmas Markets 2021 opening hours

10am until 9pm every day

Christmas Markets 2021 locations

Albert Square, King Street, St Ann’s Square, New Cathedral Street, Exchange Square, Market Street, Cathedral Gardens and Piccadilly Gardens.

Where to have your party this Christmas

★ Book before the end of October to receive a free drinks reception for your party

Waltz away the evening with live music and traditional cocktails.

The Fitzgerald is available for private parties throughout the festive period, with menus ranging from buffets to canapes and sliders.

★ Book before 15th October 2021 for a Thursday night party at only £45 pp instead of £55 per person

To bring everyone together this festive season we’re offering a range of celebrations. From festive favourites to exciting new experiences, this year you won’t want to miss out on the chance to bring people together with Mercure.

★ Book before the end of October to receive a free drinks reception for your party

Have your Christmas party at Manchester’s home of beer & BBQ. A laid back venue with cosy areas across the venue for small parties as well as full private hire. 

We’ll welcome you to your Christmas party, the biggest night of the year, with this fantastic “Roaring 20s” party.
Make your Christmas celebration more spectacular this year with the forbidden delights of prohibition!

Alongside our delicious menu you can divulge in any number of our cocktails & drinks packages, we welcome you with a fizz & canape reception surrounded by our flapper girls before you take to your table for a party not to be forgotten!

Make your festive celebrations magical with a glamorous meal in James Martin Manchester.

Available from Wednesday 1st December, this Manchester dining icon is the place for a cosy ambient festive feast.

Sharing private parties from £25pp for lunch or £35 per person for dinner, your party will love every dish available this Christmas.

★ Book early to get yourself a little reward: £25 voucher for tables over 8 or £50 for tables over 12

Make your Christmas effortlessly classy with a gem of Manchester’s Italian food scene.

Christmas party bookings available throughout December for your family, friends and colleagues.

Have a decadent Italian Christmas Day with a 3-course menu priced at £59 for adults and £29 for children.

★ Book before the end of October to receive a free drinks reception for your party

One of the newest and coolest kids on the block, Man With The Fish is laid back enough for your casual Christmas party.

With smaller areas available for private parties, there are plenty of options for all party groups with BBQ and beers available as menu options.

Join us at The Lowry Hotel this festive period for family filled fun and traditional values. Celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.

The Lowry Hotel’s party nights are famous for great food, service and atmosphere. We have key dates available for our Wonderland at dusk Christmas shared party nights which include a festive feast, a DJ, festive crackers and novelties for The Lowry Hotel’s first class Christmas

Party night dates are available throughout December  from £59 per person, with a non-refundable deposit of £15pp for 3 course menu.

★ Book before the end of October to receive a free drinks reception for your party

Manchester’s tiki heaven is the Christmas party destination you want!

Grab your whole office and get down for cocktails, tiki mayhem and the best music around.

*Available for group bookings only

Other places to visit this Christmas

Home to a mouthwatering mix of restaurants and activity in the heart of the city centre.

Offering an eclectic selection of restaurants, with a menu for every taste and an exciting array of leisure activities to keep you captivated from brunch to cocktails.

The number one spot in the heart of Manchester for days out with the kids, nights out with your mates and everything in between.

With 14 bars and restaurants, leisure activities for every age and one of the largest IMAX screens in Europe, Printworks has it all.

Discover an enticing and distinctive shopping experience, right at the heart of the city. Within one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings, you’ll find some of the world’s favourite high-street brands, chic independent stores and luxury boutiques.

Great Northern is perfectly positioned in the heart of the city centre as the perfect place to eat, drink, meet and play.

Our Grade II listed warehouse, public square and the longest Victorian terrace in Europe all fit together to create a must-visit destination in the city centre.

What's on in Manchester this Christmas?