In November 2013, I visited Manchester to visit its wonderful Christmas markets.
The markets run from mid-November till just before Christmas and operate 7 days a week. Manchester's markets are particularly special as there is a main market in Albert Square and also several smaller markets nearby, each with a different theme with diverse products on offer. As well as buying gifts, my main reason to visit is the food and drink and Manchester definitely didn't let me down!
I enjoyed visiting the small French Market on King Street where I tried the provencal chicken- very tasty, if a little expensive at £8!
My personal favourite was the German Christmas Market at St Ann's Square. I thought it was a lot more atmospheric throughout the day than the main market on Albert Square and was nowhere near as busy! I was able to pick up some Christmas gifts here stopping only to indulge myself with a couple of mugs of gluhwein and some chocolate covered marshmallows! The only thing missing from the Christmassy experience was a sprinkling of snow. Rain is more likely in Manchester!
Leaving the John Ryland Library, I decided to have a quick look around Spinningfields, and spotted another Christmas Market. This appears to be independent from the Manchester Christmas Markets.
Had I wandered further I'd have seen the outdoor Ice Rink, that opens here each Christmas. I did spot a large Helter Skelter, and seating.
Spinningfields is quite 'Up Market', with shops such as Mulberry, All Saints, Flannels, Calvin Klein, Emporo Armani and such like. It was no surprise to find that the Market Stalls were 'A Cut Above' too. I managed to resist the Baked Cheese Cake stall, but gave in to temptation at the stall selling local micro-brewery Ales. I was asked which beer I usually liked - a blonde was my reply, and I was offered a tasting of quite a pleasant brew. I was then offered a stout, which was quite light and refreshing. I was temped to purchase a trio of ales, but realised that I'd be carrying them around for the next few hours. The stall was due to be there the next day, so I was hoping to call before catching my train. Hmmm- Well, If I'm back in Manchester again before Christmas I will return here.
This market will be open Friday- Sunday from 11.00 - 20.00 thro' November until 22nd December. Live music too!
The Ice Rink is open until 6th January 2014
Other stalls will include artisan food products and high quality crafts etc. See website for more details.
I guess this is where you may spot a local celebrity or two!
At the Manchester European Christmas Market were stalls selling mulled wine, served in attractive pottery mugs. You paid for the drink (mine was £3) plus £2 deposit for the mug. When I'd finished, I could either return the mug to reclaim my £2 deposit, or keep it as a souvenir. I kept mine!
Beer was served in glasses, which also had the Christmas Markets inscription - again £2 deposit to reclaim or keep as a souvenir.
This is part of Manchester City Councils initiative, to keep waste to a minimum, which I thought was a good idea. I'm not sure if the stallholders buy the mugs, and keep any profit, or if the City Council provide them, and they recoup the cash.
Mugs are available in green or burgundy colours.
UPDATE -2012 Still £2 deposit!, plus there were larger mugs on some stalls for £4. New designs for the past few years!. (pic 5)
A new addition to the Manchester Christmas Markets in 2010, was the French Market on King Street
Open 15th November - 22nd December 2013 10.00 - 19.30 (20.00 in December)
MAP & DIRECTIONS
As it was bitterly cold, the food stalls in the French Market were a welcome sight (and smell) One time that I didn't mind queueing, as it was quite warm standing near the pans of food!
Unsurprisingly, the French Market had some quite chic stalls, including a bar with chandeliers! Foods and gifts from the various regions of the country, such as lavender products, Provençal herbs, brightly coloured table linen etc.
King Street has some quite attractive buildings of architectural interest - Once an important Banking and Finance street, it is now home to some of the most upmarket shops in Manchester - (Along with its neighbour Bank Street) Designer shops such as Vivienne Westwood and Armani attract the 'Rich and Famous' of Manchester. Liam Gallagher of Oasis fame opened a boutique (Pretty Green) here last December, which was one of many shops looted and vandalised during the mindless riots of August 2011.
Money from the cotton industry led to the Building of The Bank of England in 1826 at 82 King Street - a memorial to the prosperity of the time. It was designed by Christopher Cockerell, who was recognised as the leading architect of the time. It is a Grade 1 listed building. Along King Street are many of the buildings are Grade 2 listed.
Old banks include Lloyds TSB (53) Northern Rock Building Society (74) Prudential Assurance (76-80) Manchester and Salford Savings Bank (84-86) Midland Bank (100)
New Cathedral Street Christmas Market - Open 15th November - 22nd December 2013 - 10.00 -19.30 ( 20.00hrs in December)
Here the stalls sold ethnic crafts/ Fair traded goods, semi precious stones and jewellery, Natural beauty products etc. You could even get your eyebrows shaped - by threading for around £8!
There was a Dutch Pancake House here too. I was getting quite hungry by now, even though we would be eating at The Wellington soon. I decided to have a waffle, freshly made and served with Nutella choc spread and cream - Yes, it was a bit too sweet for me.
Next to this Market is Exchange Square Christmas Market -(Same opening dates and times as NCS Market). Here the emphasis is on Olde Worlde English fare - Hog Roasts, Mulled Wine, Champagne and English Ales.
Outside The Triangle is a traditional Market, with stalls that are set up daily by different traders. Thursday- Sunday 10.00 - 19.00 hrs.
These sell Christmas goods, crafts, and art work.
Nearest WC- Triangle Shopping Centre also Arndale Shopping Centre (Both have Wheelchair access)
ATM's/ Banks in Arndale Centre/ Market Street.
Map and directions
After visiting the European Christmas Market, and Brazennose Street, our next venue is a short walk away to the Manchester German Christmas Market in St Ann's Square. This market is open 10.00 - 20.00 hrs (November 15th - December 22nd 2013).
Most of the stalls are dedicated to selling crafts and produce of Germany.
The German market has been here in Manchester since 1999, but was established in Frankfurt in 1393!
One stall that we stopped at sold Polish mead. The stall holder was offering tastings of the honey flavoured mead. There were also bottles of German wines and lagers as well as jars of honey, beeswax and beeswax candles and soaps etc.
A popular stall was one selling ham sandwiches that were being cooked on a doner kebab style rotisserie. There was a long queue, and I was still full from the bratwurst I'd eaten earlier. (I made a note of it for next year though!)
2009- The queue was even longer this year! While queueing a man from BBC Radio Manchester was approaching people to record a Christmas Message. I decided to leave the queue - and recorded a message for VTers - It will be broadcast Sunday 13th July 09 between 15.00-16.00 95.1 FM/DAB
The Queue had grown again, so I headed back to St Annes Church.
Opposite the Church at the edge of the Market is a Nativity Scene containing carved figurines in a wood and glass case - It was made in 1983 by Apprentices from Manchester Direct Works Department
St Ann's Square had a nice atmosphere, with plenty going on besides the Christmas Market. One of the hi - lights in 2008, was coming across a choir singing in the square, it turned out that there were at least 3 choirs singing, they were all performing at a hall in Oxford Road? Street? later that afternoon.
There is a Gluhwein/ Beer Garden here in St Annes Square.
At this point, some of us head into St Annes church for a cup of tea and home made cakes!
Nearest Public WC - Parsonage Gardens (Off Deansgate) - There are toilets in The Royal Exchange Theatre
NCP - Car Park- King Street West (Off Deansgate) or off New Cathedral Street
Brazennose Street runs between Albert Square and Deansgate.
Open 10.00 - 19.30 (20.00 in December)
The World Christmas Market has stalls selling crafts as well as Dutch cheeses, biscuits, dried fruit and nuts, olives/ peppers, Italian pastries, garden plants etc.
We usually visit this market after perusing the stalls of Albert Square
In Lincoln Square (just off the street) there is a beer garden and food stalls. Stop to look at the Statue of Abraham Lincoln, who the square is named after.
I also enjoyed coming across 'The Hidden Gem' - St Marys RC church, which is located just off Brazennose Street. With the Town Hall behind you, walk along the Right hand side of the street, and you'll spot the church through a gap between the buildings.
Another gem was the John Ryland Library on Deansgate. Walk to the end of Brazen nose St and look across to the Right, to see this impressive red building. I returned here on the Sunday- A great place to spend a rainy afternoon.
There is a Post Office at No 21 Brazennose St Tel +44 (0) 845 722 3344
NCP Car Park on adjacent Queen Street (Behind Lincoln Square)
Nearest Public WC- Signposted from Lincoln Square, also between the Town Hall and Central
Library. (Though the toilets in the John Ryland Library are worth visiting- They're the original Victorian fixtures!)
ATM- We found one on Deansgate next to Spinningfields.
Open 15th November -22nd December 2013 10.00 - 2100
MAP AND DIRECTIONS
This was our first Market to visit. It is located in Albert Square, (named after Queen Victorias consort) which is in front of the magnificent Neo- Gothic Town Hall.
This is considered to be the main market, with 50+ stalls selling an array of gifts, food and drink from around Europe. An article I read stated that 43,000 people on average visited this particular market each DAY last year! (I had to check that I hadn't misread it)
The stalls are set out in traditional style wooden huts, decorated with twinkling lights. From the stalls you catch the sound of the different accents of the stallholders- some, like the bratwurst stall holder are complete showmen - playing to the crowd!
The aromas are very enticing - spicy mulled wine, hot chocolate, grilled meats, ( including many varieties of bratwurst), and roast pork, gingerbread, marzipan, garlic, marinaded olives, cheeses, to name a few.
Other stalls sell gifts such as knitwear, Reindeer skin rugs, pashminas, jewellery, decorations, toys and other crafts. One stall sold healing crystals, while next door, there was a stall selling books with a local interest .
It wasn't long before I was ordering a mulled wine and a bratwurst roll, which was served with mustard and tomato ketchup - Mmmmmm!
There's also a beer garden - I'm afraid that it was too cold for me to quaff a pint!
UPDATE - This visit, I found there was a large section of the market where Christmas trees, wreaths, Dutch bulbs, bedding plants and bird feeders etc were on sale. I somehow missed this part last year!
From mid November until just before Christmas (15th November - 22nd December 2013), Manchester hosts its annual Christmas Market(s).
Each year, it gains in popularity, and is now considered to be amongst the best of the Christmas Markets in Britain and Europe. 2013 is its 15th year., and each year it expands, adding at least one new site annually.This year, Corporation Street is the 'new kid on the block'
CLICK HERE for opening times/dates/ map/ stall information for each venue
Albert Square hosts the Manchester European Christmas Market daily, and is considered to be the main market
St Ann's Square for Manchester German Christmas Market -
In Brazennose Street you'll find the Manchester World Christmas Market,
Manchester Arts and Crafts Market is held in Exchange Street
Manchester Christmas Market is in New Cathedral Street
Triangle has craft stalls.
King Street is where You'll find the French Market
Exchange Square has a micro Brewery and vintage tea lounge as well as crafts
Corporation Street Arts, Crafts, gifts and food stalls
Local public transport stops near the markets. Apparently parking nearby is a nightmare!
My first visit was in 2008-I've returned at least once each year since. This is usually for the Manchester Christmas Markets VT Meet A great day out, ending with a meal and a few drinks, usually in some of Manchester's Heritage pubs.
Come prepared for the cold and rain (or even sleet/snow!!), with warm/waterproof clothing and comfy footwear. Leave your umbrellas at home - too many people around!
The markets, particularly in Albert Square can be busy, especially at the weekends, but you don't usually have to wait too long to be served.
Prams, pushchairs and mobility scooters etc sometimes need negotiating!
Some complain that the food and drinks are too expensive, but for me it's a pre-Christmas treat and the goods on sale are of a high quality.
Entrance and the atmosphere are free! So treat your senses to the smells of mulled wine, hog roasts, grilling bratwursts, gingerbread, perfumed soaps, candles, fir trees, the sound of the various languages and accents of visiters and stall holders, choirs and musicians, the singing reigndeer and the sights of the various stalls, twinkling lights ......
The Town Hall is worth a look around (and a place to get warm for a while) Public toilets are to be found near the Town Hall (none for public use IN the Town Hall)
Christmas Markets originated in Germany and Austria. Records show some dated as far back as the 13th Century. The Vienna December market dates back to 1294
The Christmas markets celebrated the four weeks of Advent. In Germany they are known as Weihnachtmarkt or Christkindmarkts- (The Christ Child market).
The oldest Christmas Market in England just dates back to 1983. Following an official visit to their German twin town, the local dignitaries from Lincoln were so taken with the German Christmas Market they saw there, that they decided to copy the idea. The Lincoln Christmas Market has expanded in size, but is held over just 4 days (December 4-7 2008)
Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow are amongst the other British Cities that hold annual Christmas Markets.
This year was the first chance I had in my many visits to Manchester to go to the annual Christmas markets based originally on the German Christmas markets. They set up in the city centre around the middle of November and run until Christmas. They're modelled after the markets on the Continent and many of the booths are German or French in theme but feature food and crafts from quite a few European countries including Switzerland, Spain, Austria and Poland. They have small wooden huts set up in the main square, Albert Square, in front of the Victorian Town Hall but they also spill over to several other streets and squares in the city centre.
There are over 200 stalls and a scattering of "cafe" style set ups, such as a couple of German beer gardens and a French cafe, that I saw. Many of the stalls are food related with delicacies and goods locally sourced and from other parts of Europe. There are hand made items and crafted items, food, drink and lots of interesting things to look at and to buy.
We started at St. Ann's Square and worked our way towards the Town Hall which is the main site. It happened to be my last day in Manchester or I would have bought a lot more, especially various meats and cheeses to try back at the flat but since I couldn't take them with me on the plane, they had to stay where they were. I did get some flavoured coffees and a scarf and tried some mulled wine from one of the many booths. The hot drink kiosks also gave you the drinks in a souvenir mug. They charge 2 pounds for it and if you bring the mug back, you get the deposit back but you can keep it if you want. I did though the type of mulled wine I chose to try wasn't to my liking unfortunately but there are many other types to try.
We started browsing around noon and by the time we got to the Town Hall square, the crowds there were very thick and it started to feel very claustrophobic. Inside the Town Hall was another market set up for the vendors of the alternative Northern Quarter market Affleck's. Inside the Town Hall where that was, was even more of a bottleneck for people and we lasted long enough to get in and get out.
There's no free parking but there are NCP car park garages scattered around and the busses run down Deansgate. The markets are all accessible. It's a great place to pick up interesting gifts or try a new type of sausage or fudge or find a unique ornament for your Christmas tree.
Locations: Albert Square, Brazenose St, King St, St Ann's Square, New Cathedral Street, Exchange Square
All market sites (except Albert Square*)
Nov: 10am - 7.30pm (bars open until 9pm)
Dec: 10am - 8pm (bars open until 9pm)
Albert Square 10am - 9pm every day
Had a great day at the Manchester Xmas markets. Thanks Gillybob for another great day. I didn't have so much gluhwein this year, I learned my lesson last year. The company as always was fantastic and the markets a busy and feative as last year.
If you're in Manchester during late November / December you'll find Christmas markets in the city centre -- the main one is in Albert Square and others in St. Ann's Square and Exchange Square. These markets are a recent development and prove extremely popular with the locals. Stalls from various European countries sell food, drink and gifts bringing a nice atmosphere to the city centre at this time of the year -- long may they continue.
I was fortunate enough to visit Manchester in December. I know this sounds a little odd as we were in the middle of a bitterly and unseasonably cold snap, but it did give me the opportunity to visit the rightly famous Christmas markets there. If you want to do the same, check out the VT meetings pages as I know some of the members from that area organise a VT meet there annually.
As best I can make out, there are eight different markets spread over the centre of town and they all have various themes - World, Europe etc. I probably visited about four and they were all excellent, well organised and with a mind boggling array of produce and food and drink. It was evident that many of the stallholders had come from Europe, specifically Germany, Holland and Switzerland. This does not surprise me as I always considered the concept of a Christmas market to be Continental European rather than British. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, it was great and as you can see from the last photo I even found some good old-fashioned Lancashire hotpot. If you have never had it you really should, it is ideal for a freezing night like this was.
The markets are really seen to best advantage at night, with all the lights and it really is worth a visit. Be sure and bring your wallet as you will undoubtedly want to buy something.
Hopefully, the photos will give you some idea. I think I'll go again next year.
I would provide a website but the local government website for 2010 has not very helpfully been taken down!
If you enjoy wandering around stalls looking at a wide variety of craft-type gifts or perhaps sampling a wide variety of continental foods from Dutch cheeses, spanish paella, or german wurst all washed down with warming glühwein in different flavours then the Christmas market in Albert Square in the heart of Manchester would be a good place to visit. If you've been before remember to take your mug otherwise there is a £2.00 deposit. This seemed to be an agreed rate for all of the stalls charged this amount as with the drinks: £3.00 for a Glühwein, £4.50 if you have a shot of spirit to add some extra warmth.
Be prepared for crowds although everyone was good natured - at least on this very cold and frosty Saturday in late November. The market stalls continue along other nearby streets but it seems that Albert Square has the largest concentration of them.
Albert Square is overlooked by Manchester Town Hall - an impressive building but I think spoilt by the tacky stylised duck-like 'Santa' that was perched over the entrance. I'm not really sure if was meant to be a duck but it certainly wasn't a proper Santa. The photo shows it having escaped from its moorings and now sitting on top of one of the Manchester buses.
ok so these markets will never give the German ones a run for their money but not everybody can get there! - There is a great atmosphere will stall holders from all over Europe. Try some of the Glu Wein (but not if you are driving as it is quite strong) and a bratwurst - delicious!
I would seriously avoid this place on a saturday if you value your feet - you have people dragging screaming kids through there, ploughing their way with buggies, running over your feet and seems oblivious to other human beings in the vacinity - not good!
Sundays/Evenings/weekdays are a much better bet!