Some people have been moaning about Manchester’s Christmas Markets. They think they are expensive. They don’t like the bratwurst. They don’t like the mulled wine. They don’t like the trinkets.
Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Even if they’re wrong.
Yes, you can spend a fortune on stuff that’s, well, a bit overpriced and they do get rather crowded. But where else can you get 300 traders flogging German sausages, lavishly filled crepes, mulled wine and Yorkshire pudding wraps?
The influential website European Best Destinations has been running an annual competition to find the Best Christmas Markets for several years. Last year Manchester was the only UK city to make the top 20.
And once again this year it’s the only city in the UK which is up for the award – along with renowned festive destinations such as Dresden, Strasbourg, Vienna, and Tallinn.
You can vote for Manchester here. The competition closes on Monday 11 December, with millions of people from across the continent expected to cast their vote.
Here’s our top picks of this year’s Christmas Markets and why we’re wrapping up and heading out to the city centre this festive season.
Northern Soul Grilled Cheese
Make like a market mogul and have yourself a merry little munch on the Crimbo Dinner, cooked up by the good fellows of Northern Soul Grilled Cheese in Albert Square. Northern Soul Grilled Cheese have seasonalised their year-round, mouth-watering creations to feature the highlights of Christmas dinner: turkey, stuffing, lashings of gravy and a sweet kiss of cranberry sauce, lovingly wedged between two slices of bread and crowned with a pig-in-a-blanket. A delicious solution for keeping your hands toasty and a sensational celebration of the Christmas sandwich. Almost as good as Mum’s.
Bavarian Beer House
Possibly the only positive example of cabin fever. Warm your cockles in the boozy bustle of Albert Square’s famous Bavarian Beer House. Their never-ending supply of German beer and gluhwein will ease the stress of your never-ending shopping list, and if you get really desperate the souvenir mugs make great stocking fillers.
Snowdonia Cheese Co
Did someone say Cheese-mas? While Manchester Christmas Markets have plenty of produce stalls, my Welsh roots have me championing the Snowdonia Cheese Company on Exchange Street, and their luxury range of cheeses which are certain to upgrade your Christmas cheeseboard. Get acquainted with cheesy characters such as the Pickle Power, Amber Mist and the award-winning Black Bomber. You’d brie a fool to overlook this festive fromagerie.
Take a stroll down New Cathedral Street and lose yourself in the quintessential scent of Christmas spirit. Flowerdirk’s flourishing florals and hand-crafted garden knick-knacks make for thoughtful gifts. And walking through their forest of weeny, miniature Christmas trees will make you feel like a giant.
Enjoy hot nuts roasted on an open fire, without the risk of singeing your left eyebrow. Or your right one. Leave it to the experts at Naturally Nuttily in Albert Square who have a selection of satisfyingly sweet-glazed roasted nuts as well as a guest appearance from their homemade fudge.
Lee Furlong Photography
Festive feasts might only last a moment, but a keepsake from Lee Furlong Photography will last a lifetime. Take a look at his masterpieces down at St Ann’s Square and celebrate Christmas with a print of your favourite Manchester scene, or treat a loved one to a snapshot of our stunning city.
Bored of the average festive fare? Let Zouk on King Street tempt you away with their traditional Turkish treats. With wraps and Turkish favourites tailored to tap into your Christmas cheer, their rice dishes are infused with festive flavour from chestnuts, cranberry and spices for an alternative take on a winter warmer straight from the Middle East.
Paying homage to Manchester’s tiny mascot, Mayflower Apiaries on New Cathedral Street celebrate bees in a big way with a selection of candles, hand cream, soap and more made from honey and beeswax. Perfect for presents and a must-visit if you want to soothe your skin after spending too long out in the cold.
The talk of the town, the word on everyone’s lips and the reason for grumbling tums everywhere. Yes, the Yorkshire Burrito has finally made its Manchester debut, taking temporary residence in Exchange Square. The most delicious way to wrap up a day of Christmas shopping, get your chops around a full roast dinner, gravy and all, hugged tightly by a blanket of scrummy Yorkshire pud. Best put your shopping to one side for this one. It requires two hands and will induce some serious eye-rolls of appreciation.
The Pancake House
Perhaps the sweetest way to end your visit to the Christmas Markets, you batter save room for a crepe. Piping hot and smothered in toppings of your desire, enjoy al fresco in the electric ambience of Albert Square as you savour the last droplets of the evening.