Photo © David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)
It's that magical time of year when the city of Manchester dons its fabulously fluffy red Santa hat, scoffs in the face of the chilly winter weather and bursts into unrelenting verses of Jingle Bells. The Christmas markets have arrived in Manchester bringing with them a riot of colour, smells, sights and an incredibly large brandy-tinged dollop of festive cheer. The city's Christmassy alter ego will be with us from November 10th until December 21st.
The now world famous Manchester Christmas Markets opened in one location in 1998 when a small selection of German traders from Frankfurt were invited to set up a small German market. Since their inception, they have grown in size each year. For 2017 the markets are spread across multiple sites in the town centre each with a slightly different twist on the festive theme.
Is it like a traditional German Christmas Market?
If there is one thing that Germany is famous for then it has to be their spectacular Christmas markets. The carved wooden nutcrackers, nativity scenes and hot alcoholic drinks have become synonymous with the festive season. The traditional Christmas markets began hundreds of years ago in Germany and have inspired the way Christmas time is celebrated worldwide.
If you can't make it to one of Germany's famous markets this year then please don't despair. Manchester Christmas Markets have an array of authentic German stalls on offer to temporarily transport you to one of Germany's Christkindlesmarkt.
You can try the traditional crème fraiche topped bread-based dish at the Flammkuchen stall. Why not warm your insides with a dram of feuerzangenbowle which is a sugar loaf flavoured warmed punch with the staff at Bavarian Beer Wine & food stall? Both of these are located at Albert Square.
Over with Markthandel + Vertrieb you can get your cold hands on some delicious German pretzels which are served with cheese soup. It doesn't get much more German than that.
It isn't just authentic German foods available this year at the markets. Handcrafted gift stalls pepper manchester Christmas markets. Gros und Einzelhandel Sonderposten has got stocking filler gifts such as gingerbread, horseradish, and pickles. If you are after a truly unique present then Schmidt Glass have Christmas baubles, butterflies and even pens on offer.
The design of Manchester Christmas market is inspired by Germany's Christkindlesmarkt. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Cathedral Gardens where the giant wooden Windmill bar stands like a totem to Christmas. Here the friendly traders at the Windmill have a variety of German wines and beers for you to enjoy.
Manchester Christmas Markets really are as close to an authentic German Christmas market as it is possible to get without first boarding an airplane.
Where are they located?
The bustling hub is at Albert Square where a vast array of stalls offer merrymakers gluhwein, bratwurst, beer halls, handcrafted gifts, sweets, clothing and much more. Over the years a visit to the venue has become a tradition with city workers, families and tourists. It is busy, it is lively and it certainly is Christmassy.
St Anne's Square is the spiritual home of Manchester Christmas Markets as it was where the first German stalls set up nearly twenty years ago. Here you can experience genuine German fare from gluhwein to strudel. The gluhwein hall is a cosy location to meet up with friends or take a break from shopping. It's the perfect place to do a spot of Christmas gift shopping from the traditional arts and craft stalls.
Cathedral Gardens offer children a real touch of festive fun. Situated underneath the iconic Windmill Bar families can enjoy the traditional fairground helter-skelter, ice skating, and delicious sweet waffles and cakes.
At King Street the market has a French theme. Cosmetics, stylish accessories, a coffee bar, pate and French wines are the order of the day here. The market offers a sophisticated place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping.
If it is gift buying above all else that you are concerned with, New Cathedral Street is the location for you. There are stunning and bespoke present ideas to be found here. Pottery, jewellery, and one-off gifts can be purchased here. If you can't make up your mind what to buy then there is a gluhwein hall where you can take a little time to mull over your choices.
Exchange Square is the place to head if you are in need of seasonal sustenance. There are a plethora of food stalls and some interesting alcoholic beverages on offer. Why not sample cider which you can flavour with liqueurs whilst simultaneously devouring Dutch pancakes. It's a foodies heaven.
Brazennose Street and Market Street offer more craft and gift stalls. The Christmas decorations available at these locations are exquisite. If you aren't familiar with the locations, a map can be viewed here: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/500241/christmas_markets/6183/christmas_markets_map
Reusable mugs and glasses are available making the markets a little more eco-friendly. This year the mugs feature stackable festive characters-what a great memento to take away with you.
What are the opening times?
The markets are open from 10 am -7.30 pm during November with the closing time extended until 8 pm in December. The bars all close at 9 pm.
How to get there
If you are travelling to Manchester Christmas Markets why not leave the car at home and use public transport so you can have one more gluhwein? Details of how to get to Manchester by rail, Metrolink, bus, and car can be found here: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/500241/christmas_markets/5687/christmas_markets_visitor_information/2
A visit to Manchester Christmas Markets is the ideal way to begin the holiday season.