The Manchester Christmas Markets are now officially open and ready to bring festive cheer to shoppers and revellers for the next two months in the city centre.
The markets snake right across the city centre, and you’re never far from a hot sausage or a mug of gluhwein.
To prepare you for your best possible day around the markets, we’ve split them into zones and picked out some of the key things to look out for along the way.
And the key things to remember are – take cash (as not every stall accepts cards), don’t take your dog to Albert Square (they’re not allowed) and factor in the £3 mug deposit if you’re partaking of a gluhwein during your visit.
The main festive hub of the market, it is also the busiest zone with rows and rows of gift and food stalls to browse, and the biggest bar of them all at its heart – the split level Old Windmill House. This is the place to grab your mug and a sausage and soak up the amazing view of zippy Santa.
There are also some of the quirkier food offerings here – a new addition this year, Amsterdam Frites with a variety of toppings on your chips, is set to be popular.
There’s also the return of Northern Soul with its grilled cheese sandwiches and a mouth-watering festive special, as well as hot cookie dough for dessert from Elsie May’s from £5.50.
Find traditional German Flammkuchen (like a very thin pizza with sour cream, cheese and bacon on top) for £7.50. And of course the ever popular swing grill with a raft of sausages from £4.50 to £5.
Expect plenty of ideas for Christmas presents – quirky stalls include wooden ties and bowties for £20, bonsai trees, adorable knitted goodies from Twixie Pixie.
Also, for those with a furry friend – be warned NO DOGS are allowed on Albert Square during the markets.
This is your place for huge lumps of cheese and fresh produce. Oh, and the biggest sausage we could find – the XXL bad boy for £5.50.
Also watch out for the Eat Greek stall where they sell halloumi fries for £7.50 – but be prepared for a huge queue.
Chocolate brownies, fudge, chocolate marshmallows and the usual raft of gluhwein can be purchased here.
St Ann’s Square
Flanked by two of the biggest pop-up bars of the Manchester Christmas Markets, this is the place to go for socialising and meeting groups of friends for your gluhwein (£4.50 or £2 for non-alcoholic version) sparkling prosecco (£6.50) or bier (£5). You can grab an extra large sausage for £5 or a German burger for £3.
Look out for the singing tree, in amongst the stalls selling lots of gifts including stunning photos, ridiculous rich brownies by Alana and Wraptuous’s printed cushions.
And make sure you pay a visit to the Birdie Camper Van at the St Ann’s Church end of the square for your FREE festive selfie.
New Cathedral Street
With one of the most distinctive bars on the market, you can’t escape the giant sausage sculptures at the Witch House when you arrive at the foot of New Cathedral Street, outside Marks & Spencer.
Get a currywurst, cheese or chilli sausage for £5 here, before browsing the raft of gift stalls along the street. Think skull ornaments, beeswax candles and local honey, and a spectacular chocolate stall with everything from iPads to flipflops fashioned out of choccy.
This is the place to head to for the famous Porky Pig Yorkshire pudding wrap. This year they’re doing the English breakfast version in a Yorkshire pud from 9am to 10.30am – and from then onwards you can snap up their original roast dinner wrap or their new calzone wrap from £6.50. But be warned – there WILL be queues.
You’ll also find a nice selection of gifts including jewellery, pretty handcrafted wood gifts from local firm Rossendale Gifts and an impressive array of fudge at Laura’s Confectionery outside Selfridges.
There are more stalls next to the Corn Exchange, including a fun range of boozy fudges inserted into wine glasses – choose from Baileys, champagne, prosecco and Jack Daniels for £4.
Home to The Ice Village this year with its spectacular Ice Cavern and Ice Rink, there are plenty of magical attractions for all the family in this zone of the Christmas markets. For a full guide to the Ice Village click here.
Also in this area you will find the pretty wooden windmill house, with its raft of sausages and gluhwein.
Manchester’s hectic shopping thoroughfare sticks to a range of gift stalls, including festive mini houses, woolly hats, fairy lights and children’s clothing.
Dates and times
The Manchester Christmas Markets are open from November 9th until December 22nd. But this year the main hub on Albert Square will stay open for an extra day until December 23rd.
The Ice Village at Cathedral Gardens will stay open until January 5.
Opening times are 10am to 9pm for Albert Square’s main hub – although the market closes earlier on the other zones until December – but the bars stay open until 9pm.