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, with a new location at Piccadilly Gardens and lots of new features and attractions for 2019.
To prepare you for your best possible day around the markets, we’ve picked out some of the key things to look out for along the way at all the different “zones” of the market.
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 planning on partaking of a gluhwein or hot drink during your visit.
Albert Square remains the festive hub of the market, albeit slightly rejigged this year while the town hall refurbishment continues. Zippy Santa is no more (a new Santa will soon be unveiled at Piccadilly Gardens) – but the stalls have spread further out to take over the main road at the foot of the square.
It remains among 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.
There are also some of the quirkier food offerings here – the return of Northern Soul with its grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches, hot cookie dough for dessert from Manchester’s Elsie May’s and new this year chicken waffles from Yard and Coop.
There’s plenty of traditional German market treats too like flamkuchen, strudel and of course the ever popular swing grill with a raft of sausages from £4.50 to £5.
Also, for those with a furry friend – be warned NO DOGS are allowed on Albert Square during the markets, except for assistance dogs.
New for 2019, the Christmas Markets have spread to Piccadilly Gardens – or at least around the edges of the plaza. Soon it will also be home to the brand new Manchester Santa, which will be revealed on 14th November.
Also causing a fair bit of excitement is the brand new snow globe bar where you can get hot gin and whisky toddies, hot chocolates and soft drinks.
Some of the hot new food stalls are based here too – including Buntzels (warm filled pretzels) S’Mores (melty marshmallow sandwiches) and the ever-popular Eat Greek treats like halloumi fries.
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 mulled wine (£4.50 or £2 for non-alcoholic version) sparkling prosecco (£6.50) or try out the smoking gins as part of the I Love MCR gin trail at the Winter Berries bar.
You can also grab an extra large half-metre long Bratwurst for £5 or how about a German burger for £3.
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, flavoured cheeses and local honey.
Also new this year are the bagels from Eat New York – including their tantalising turkey reuben bagel.
This is the place to head to for the famous Porky Pig Yorkshire pudding wrap, and this year they’ve created two new delicious morsels – deep-fried pigs in blankets and giant toad-in-the-hole aka the Yorkshire Rose. Be warned – there WILL be queues here at peak times.
There’s also the legendary Dutch pancakes, hot cookie dough and a new pizza stall.
You’ll also find a nice selection of gifts with a row of wooden stalls opposite the Corn Exchange, including jewellery, pretty handcrafted wood gifts and an array of fudges and macarons.
Cathedral Gardens – Ice Village
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.
It will be home to the market’s official Santa’s grotto in the ice cavern from November 20th, and there’s also an Ice Tiki Bar for the first time.
Manchester’s hectic shopping thoroughfare sticks to a range of gift stalls, including festive mini houses, woolly hats, fairy lights and children’s clothing.
There’s also the well-stocked Melting Pot gin bar that is part of the I Love MCR Gin Trail.
Already causing a bit of a stir on the opening day was the stall from Precious Pets – full of furry and rather lifelike little animals that even have a heartbeat. From £25.
This is your place to find the European food markets – so yep that means huge lumps of cheese, barrels of olives and all sorts of quirky fresh produce.
Chocolate brownies, fudge, chocolate marshmallows and the usual raft of gluhwein can be purchased here.
Dates and times
The Manchester Christmas Markets 2019 start from Friday November 8th from 10am to 9pm daily and run until Saturday December 21st, except Albert Square which will be open until Sunday December 22nd until 4pm.
All other market sites opening times:
(St Ann’s Square; King Street; Exchange Street; Exchange Square; New Cathedral Street; the Corn Exchange; and Market Street)
In November 10am – 8pm, except November 14th when it will be open until 10pm for the light switch on event.
In December 10am – 8pm
ALL BAR AND FOOD AREAS OPEN UNTIL 9pm
Ice Village – open from Friday 8th Nov through until Tuesday 31st December
Skate Manchester Ice Rink – open from Friday 8th Nov until Monday 5th January
Santa’s Grotto – open 20th November until Tuesday 24th December (note the Grotto is not open Mondays and Tuesdays.)