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The countdown is officially on in the UK’s capital of Christmas as Manchester gets ready for the opening of its world-famous Christmas Markets on Thursday 10 November.
The countdown is officially on to the start of the festive season in the UK’s capital of Christmas as Manchester gets ready for the opening of its world-famous Christmas Markets on Thursday 10 November.
With over 220 stalls across nine sites throughout the city centre, this year’s Christmas Markets are set to bring some much-needed festive cheer to the city’s streets and squares in the run-up to Christmas.
24 years on from the first ever Manchester Christmas Markets in 1998, the markets continue to attract Mancunians and visitors alike to the city in their thousands to fill up on the fantastic festive treats on offer.
This year will see the iconic ski chalet market stalls take over Piccadilly Gardens – once again set to be transformed into the Winter Gardens – Market Street, Cathedral Gardens, Exchange Street, New Cathedral Street, St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, The Corn Exchange, and King Street.
Making sure the city looks its sparkly best in the run-up to Christmas is of course just as important and this year sees the return of the magical Manchester Christmas lights trail, illuminating the city centre throughout the festive season with its walk-through giant baubles, a Manchester bee, and of course Santa Claus himself – who will be keeping an eye on all things Christmas in Manchester from his perch on high in front of Central Library on St Peter’s Square.
For those who look forward to a seasonal skate, Skate Manchester’s family-friendly covered ice rink will once again take up its usual spot in Cathedral Gardens where skaters can skate around a beautiful Christmas tree and enjoy twinkling lights, the smell of gingerbread, and Christmas songs on repeat.
New for this year too the finishing touches are also being put to plans that will see the city’s streets and squares filled with some extra special not-to-be-missed Manchester Christmas magic, along with a Manchester festive first that promises to weave its way through the city putting a smile on everyone’s faces. Full details of these are still under (Christmas) wraps for now – but are set to be revealed very soon.
In the meantime, here’s the full rundown of what to expect at Manchester’s Christmas Markets this year:
Bigger and better than ever this year, Piccadilly Gardens will once again be transformed into Winter Gardens for the festive season.
Serving up pancakes, churros, and an array of winter tipples it will be at the heart of Manchester’s festive action.
Newcomers Parmageddon will join a mouth-watering line-up of food and drink that also includes vegan bratwursts, cookie dough, Amsterdam Frites, and two bars serving continental and foreign ales.
There will also be dedicated weekly trial spots for new local traders as they step into winter trading and try out their wares on the Christmas market crowds.
Brand new for this year in Winter Gardens will be a giant Nordic-themed double tipi bar for over 18s. Fully heated, and festooned with ambient lighting, wooden benches, fake furs, and a fire pit, the new tipi promises to be a perfect meeting place for those seeking a cosy Christmas atmosphere full of festive cheer.
With entertainment throughout the week including live music and DJs, some amazing food vendors will make their temporary Christmas home next to the tipi including vegan foodies Panc, and last year’s smash hit, Korean hotdogs.
Old favourites the Pig and Barrel will be making a welcome return to the Winter Gardens offering up their delicious pork barms and cosy seating area with entertainment on most nights.
Winter Gardens will also be home this year to the iconic Manchester Windmill which comes in a whopping 4metres high!
Accessible changing facilities, which includes an adult weighted change bed, a shower, toilet, and an adult weighted track hoist will also be available in Winter Gardens as well as, priority seating for disabled visitors.
St Ann’s Square and Exchange Street
St Ann’s Square- the original site for Manchester’s Christmas markets- will return with its large undercover bar providing German beers and warm cherry Gluhwein to keep Christmas revellers warm and merry throughout the winter season. St Ann’s Square and Exchange Street will also be home to local traders, and Manchester foodie favourites such as Yard and Coop with their salt and pepper chicken fries, plus fresh authentic paella and tapas, as well as Manc and Proud serving up Mancunian themed everything, plus continental chocolates, English cheeses, and art emporiums.
A firm favourite with Christmas shoppers, Market Street will be home to stalls selling a wide range of gifts from some amazing crafters and producers selling everything from tweed hats, spiced rum and Christmas decorations, to candles, jewellery, and gift sets of cheese truckles.
Home to some of the best food in Manchester, the Christmas deli stalls on King Street will take foodies on a world tour of some of the best loved dishes on the planet. From Italian cannelloni and arancini, Greek gyros and halloumi fries, to French garlic mushrooms and Salford Rum, there’s something for everyone’s tastes.
New for 2022, middle eastern restaurant Habas, part of the El Gato Negro group will bring their middle eastern menu and seating area to King Street- great for those wanting to eat their way round the world!
New Cathedral Street
New Cathedral Street starts with high-end gift stalls and stretches down into foodie heaven. Stalls selling fine cast ornaments, old fashioned liquorice, handmade cocktails for home, and light up Christmas decorations, lead to food stalls offering everything from vegan 5 bean chilli, to New York Bagels – swallowed down perhaps by one of cosmopolitan Bar 3’s famous Instagram-worthy smoking cocktails.
The Witch House also returns to New Cathedral Street with its traditional steins and mouth-watering currywurst.
Warm up at the instantly recognisable Mill Exchange bar, with their special Mancunian mulled wine made on-site and its legends of Manchester artwork adorning its walls.
2022 also sees the return of the famous Porky Pig’s Yorkshire Pudding Wrap, alongside stalls selling hot curries, mini pancakes, fresh fudge, hand-carved olivewood decorations, German kebabs, and gourmet Italian pizza.
The Corn Exchange
Set between the Manchester’s historic Corn Exchange building and Shambles Square, visitors can expect to find unique fairtrade hats and jackets, character themed hats and belts, as well as handmade pies, cupcakes and soaps.
Opening Saturday 22 October in time for half term and Halloween, the much-loved undercover ice rink Skate MCR is back with entertainment each Thursday to Sunday all the way through to New Year’s Eve. Next to the ice rink, hot food, warm drinks, pancakes and tipples will be on offer from nearby market stalls to help warm up cold hands and feet after a skate on the ice.
Councillor Pat Karney, lead councillor for Christmas, Manchester City Council, said:
“Christmas is looking better than ever this year in Manchester with our world-beating Christmas markets set to open in three weeks’ time, and a whole host of other unmissable free festive treats also coming our way.
“Everyone knows that Manchester does Christmas better than anywhere else and I’ve been counting down the days to the opening of our Christmas markets again since the day they closed last year.
“We’ve got some fantastic new festive additions to the markets this year, as well as some other soon-to-be announced unmissable festive surprises which are set to get everyone in Manchester smiling in the run-up to Christmas. More announcements on this very soon – I can’t wait!”
The Christmas markets will open on Thursday 10 November and will close on Thursday 22 December.
The Ice Rink in Cathedral Gardens opens from Saturday 22 October for spooky half-term Halloween skates and will stay open after this throughout the festive season until Tuesday 3 January. The food and drink stalls in Cathedral Gardens alongside the skate rink will remain open until Saturday 31 December.