Manchester’s transformation into the UK’s capital of Christmas is almost upon us as traders from across the north west and Europe prepare themselves for this year’s Christmas Markets.
Every year millions of visitors flock to the city for the festive attraction that spreads across the city centre squares with hundreds of market stalls selling mouth-watering food and drink, and a huge selection of gift ideas to help tick off that Christmas shopping list.
Celebrating 19 consecutive years in the city, a host of much-loved favourites will return to the Christmas Markets this year – including the groundbreaking Yorkshire pudding burrito – who will be joined by an exciting roster of new foodie delights and craft traders.
Albert Square – the traditional hub of the Manchester Christmas Markets – will see an impressive injection of gastronomic re-invention, from the brand new Amsterdam Frites stall boasting 30 different toppings and sauces over their triple cooked fries, to Zouk Tea Bar & Grill – a traditional curry house with two new curries every day, along with a range of veggie and vegan options.
Sweet toothed visitors will be spoilt for choice with first time trader Zara Cakes putting cupcakes to the top of the menu, and a dessert stall of pure imagination as Charlotte and the Chocolate Factory load topping after topping onto fresh, warm brownies.
Last year, Manchester was the most Instagrammed Christmas market in Europe and this is your chance to be part of the celebration. For the social media mad, St Anne’s Square welcomes the Birdie photo booth – a vintage VW campervan where visitors can get free print outs of their snaps, which will also be automatically shared to Twitter using #MCRChristmas.
Elsewhere a new Bubble Waffle bar will continue the sweet treats on St Ann’s Square and traditional British favourites will be on the menu at Ginger Vikings Desserts on Market Street – think Christmas puds and trifles.
Mr Thomas’s Hot Gin Garden returns to warm up your cockles with Sipsmith.
New Cathedral Street welcomes a visitor favourite café in the making, as Bar No3 arrives outside Harvey Nichols. Taking inspiration from modern ski-lodge architecture, Bar No3 are purveyors of the finer things in life, including espresso martinis and honey cream infused gin cocktails amongst a variety of other offerings.
On King Street, known for its more relaxed atmosphere and fine food, new trader Eat Grk will bring a taste of the Mediterranean to Manchester with warming gyros and halloumi fries.
Another key hub, Exchange Square hosts an eclectic range of food stalls from authentic Italian pizza and arancini to Elsie May’s Brownies and her shimmering Rose Gold Prosecco.
And fear not, because traditional favourites bratwurst and mulled wine will be available in abundance alongside some of the best pop-up and street food vendors the city has to offer.
Cathedral Gardens will reprise its role as the family-friendly area of the Christmas Markets where younger visitors can escape the crowds and enjoy some free festive activities.
The festive family area at Cathedral Gardens will be completely reimagined this year as the UK’s first dedicated ice attraction comes to Manchester.
The Ice Village Manchester is a breathtaking snowy experience complete with Ice Cavern, ice sculptures and frozen ice bar – all carved using 250 tonnes of solid ice.
And no Christmas is complete without showing off your prowess on the Ice Rink, or visiting the man himself at Santa’s Grotto. The Ice Village has something for all the family.
Heaton Park’s “A Place to Potter” will be in Cathedral Gardens for the first time, inviting youngsters to paint a pot (or Santa) in a specially built marquee attraction. A Place to Potter is completely free, but visitors can book ahead. Details of how to book your slot will be available soon.
Long-time Christmas Market favourites will also be available. The limited edition Christmas Market mugs are back with a brand new design so get yours quick, before the run out.
And the undisputed king of Christmas in Manchester – the giant Santa aka Zippy – will take up his usual perch in front of town hall.
As always he will be taking to twitter to provide his sometimes peculiar take on the city’s festivities. Follow him @MCRSanta.
Follow all the Christmas conversation using #MCRChristmas
Manchester Christmas Markets dates
Friday 9th November – Saturday 22nd December
Manchester Christmas Markets opening times
Albert Square (Open until 4pm on Sunday 23rd December)
10.00am – 9.00pm daily
(St Ann’s Square; King Street; Exchange Street; Exchange Square; New Cathedral Street; the Corn Exchange; Market Street; and Cathedral Gardens)
In November 10.00am – 7.30pm.
In December 10.00am – 8.00pm.
All bar and food areas open until 9.00pm.