Manchester’s big city centre Christmas Markets are a wondrous thing. People travel for miles to visit and soak up the atmosphere and you can see why. But while it makes for an amazing and memorable time, the sheer number of people can be overwhelming and, let’s face it, not conducive to actual shopping.
So if huge crowds aren’t your thing, don’t fret because there are other options in and around Manchester that provide all you’re looking for from a Christmas market. And they’re a whole lot calmer too.
The Whoville Christmas Markets
This year’s Christmas market at the Lowry Outlet is inspired by Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, which is showing at The Lowry. Every weekend, up until December 22nd, there’s an array of stalls to explore on the Plaza where you’ll find festive munchies and vintage crafts from local artisans. There’s also a Christmas Post Office where you can send your letter to Father Christmas, a Christmas Present Trail with a helpful treasure map and the Mount Crumpit reading area for festive tales. Oh, and keep an eye out for that grumpy Grinch. Word is he’s on the loose and you don’t want him putting a dampner on proceedings.
Levenshulme Christmas Markets
Levenshulme Market is launching a run of Christmas markets, with up to 50 stalls at each one selling handmade, unique Christmas presents, as well as some of Manchester’s best street food, cakes and confectionary including knitwear, handmade decorations, Christmas wreaths, ceramics, candles, soaps, artwork, cards and much more – all of it handmade in Manchester and the surrounding area. The Christmas markets run for three weekends in December in Levenshulme station car park – Saturday 7th, Saturday 14th, and finishing with a bang at the Christmas Party Night Market on Friday 20th December from 5-9pm – perfect for an after-work celebration.
Ashton Christmas Market
Ashton-under-Lyne is known for its impressive market, but the town centre gets the festive treatment from Saturday, November 30th when the Christmas lights are switched on. Alongside the stalls, there will be funfair rides and a Frozen-themed event in the market square, including workshops and an interactive show. On December 7th, there’s a world of Harry Potter to dive into between 11am and 3pm alongside the shopping opportunities and a week later, two showings of a Beauty and the Beast panto in the market square at 11am and 2pm. On December 21, there will be a Cake and Craft Christmas market as well as a Kids’ Christmas Cooking Club taking place together with the Saturday outdoor market followed by the award-winning Farmers’ Christmas Market on December 22nd.
Grub and Kampus Stall
There’s a new pop-up market from the people behind Grub food festival landing at Kampus, Aytoun Street, on Friday, November 29th. Called Stall, it’s described as the ‘alternative’ Christmas market with around 20 local traders will showcasing their products, including Moon & Sixpence, Full Circle Tees and Blue Botanics. There will also be 12 lines of craft beer from local breweries as well as mulled wine and cider, and food from the likes of The Bootle Oyster, Pitch Pizza and Fritto. Not only is it a chance to tick off the Christmas gift list, but it’s an opportunity to see how the Kampus development, due to open next year, is shaping up.
Standish Christmas Market
This year marks Wigan’s fourth Standish Christmas Market, the one-day event happening on Sunday, November 30th along Market Place, Cross Street and the Parish Halls at both St Wilfrid’s Church and Methodist Church. There will be food, beer (care of Albion Ale House Micropub), local stall holders and live music. The market’s open from 11am with the indoor craft halls closing at 5pm, the outdoor stalls at 7pm and the live music stage at 8pm and then the party atmosphere continues at the local pubs.
Etsy Made Local Market
Head over to the People’s History Museum in Spinningfields from Friday, November 29th to Sunday, December 1st for Manchester’s Etsy Made Local Market. Over 40 regional traders are selling an array of vintage and hand-crafted gifts such as Emily Lisbeth Jewellery, Threaded Needle, Blue Fox Ceramics and Wilton Street Craft Co. There will be mulled wine and mince pies to keep you energised while you shop during Friday’s Winter Warmer, as well as live music, including the NQ Ladies Singing Group on Saturday and the Halle Youth Training Choir on Sunday for a special festive atmosphere. It’s free entry all weekend, and you can pop into the museum as well for a spot of culture once you’ve ticked off your Christmas shopping list.
Ramsbottom Christmas Markets
The Christmas market returns to Ramsbottom again, beginning with the Festive Farmers’ Market on Sunday, December 8th. Located at Market Place and inside the Civic Hall, you’ll find artisan gift makers alongside the town’s local traders and then on December 14th and 15th, there will be a two-day street market running from the Civic Hall, along Bridge Street to Church Gardens. Tuck into the warming food and spiced drinks, browse the stalls and see what local craft producers have been up to and enjoy the family-friendly festive entertainment.