For the first time this year, Manchester’s Christmas Markets have expanded into Piccadilly Gardens.
Some might wonder why this didn’t happen before Market Street, which most people would agree is a nightmare to navigate at any time of year. But we’re not here to be grinches. Not yet, anyway, whilst you can still walk through town at a reasonable pace.
The arrival of wooden makers stalls has certainly given the unpopular public space some much-needed festive cheer.
It’s not perfect, sure, but it’s definitely an improvement on how the Gardens usually look. For one, we’ve got something to focus on other than that ugly brutalist wall.
But the real star of the show has to be the giant new snow globe bar.
Specialising in boozy winter warmers, Juniper1933 has a mix of traditional and cranberry-infused hot toddies, liqueur coffees and hot chocolates.
Inside it’s warm and cosy thanks to a couple of well-placed heaters. Multi-coloured paper stars hang from above the central bar and are available to purchase as well as looking pretty.
Their classic toddy is available with citrus-led gin or Jameson Irish whiskey, using a traditional spice blend of fresh orange, honey, juniper, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
Served with orange, cinnamon and juniper, a single will set you back £6 whilst it’s £9 for a double.
Cranberry-infused options offer different spice blends again.
A rose and pomegranate gin base on the Rose Blush (£6/£9) is infused with cloves, star anise, juniper and cardamom, whereas the Juniper Kicker (£6/£9) blends together chilli, orange and juniper for an earthy kick.
For anyone staying off the sauce, there’s also a virgin option available in traditional or cranberry (£3), plus coffees, tea and hot chocolates.
If you’d rather something cold they have classic G&Ts on offer too.
Open every day from 11am to 9pm, last orders will be called around 8.30pm. Time to snuggle up under a blanket and get cosy.
Our only concern is an already muddy path that could spell drunken disaster when we next get a spot of rain. And with this being Manchester, that’s unlikely to be too far away.
But for now, it’s great to see the Gardens with a bit of life injected into them.