It’s the first dedicated Ice Village in the UK – and it’s now officially open as the Manchester Christmas Markets get underway.

It’s set to be one of the most popular destinations for families at this year’s festive spectacular in the city, with the magical ice cavern, the ever-popular ice rink, and a raft of bars and food stalls available here.

We headed down to check it all out, and here’s what you need to know.

(Photo: Mark Waugh)

The Ice Village

The Cathedral Gardens area next to Urbis has been transformed into the Ice Village this year and will be open from 11am to 9pm daily.

To access the woodland area itself you don’t need to pay.  There are food and drink stalls inside with loaded fries and burgers for £5 and a range of sweet treats including a donut volcano for £2.50.  There are also VIP festive lodges that you can hire for £95 for two hours (which includes a £60 bar tab).

The Ice Cavern

The Ice Cavern (Photo: Mark Waugh)

The big draw for many families will be a visit inside the Ice Cavern – an immersive walk-through chamber where you get to marvel at the spectacular ice sculptures created by world-renowned artists.

The story of Manchester is woven throughout the Ice Cave, with ice sculptures of famous local figures from history, including a female train driver with a ‘Votes For Women’ badge as a nod to suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

There are interactive photo opportunities to ensure plenty of cool #iceselfies – including turning yourself into a frosty Bigfoot, or sit on the ice thrones for as long as you can bear the chill.

Santa’s icy toy factory is where the magic of Christmas begins, but a visit to the Ice Village wouldn’t be complete without paying a visit to the man himself – and yes, Santa will have a grotto to visit here.

But be warned. To keep those icy sculptures intact, it is very, VERY cold in here, so you may not want to stay in the cavern for too long.  On the upside, it feels positively balmy when you return outside and head into a gift shop with lots of cute fluffy gifts to buy.

Prices: (on the door) Adults £10, concessions £9, £8 for children under 15 and under-3s go free.  You can also get a family ticket for £32.  You can also get cheaper tickets by booking in advance online at Ice Village.

The Ice Rink

The ice rink is set under magical twinkling lights this year, complete with a lovely view of Urbis.

And for those who are a little unsteady on the skates, you can also have those cute plastic penguin things to guide you.

Prices: Adults £11, child £9, family ticket £35, on the door or online at Ice Village.

Hotel Indigo Mamucium LB

What's on your mind?