This time of year in Manchester means one thing: the arrival of the Christmas Markets. Streets and squares become a temporary home for over 300 stalls across the city, a fantastic array of delicious European foods, gorgeous handmade crafts and clothes, unique Christmas gifts and cosy cabins with a constant supply of beer, hot chocolates and warm alcoholic beverages served in the annual branded mugs. ‘Tis the season to get festive!
Living in Manchester means I get to see the markets every day on the commute to work (St. Peter’s tram stop anyway), walking past both Exchange Square and Albert Square. Since their arrival, I must admit it’s become a bit of mission on a night to get home, fighting through crowds of people who want a taste of Christmas. This is fantastic for Manchester, though; during its opening weekend, 120,000 visitors descended on the city to experience the festive offerings (via Manchester Evening News). Anything that brings and attracts more people, tourism, spend and interest can only be a good thing!
Already I’ve been about 5 times, both on a weeknight evening or at the weekend, with friends, family or the boy when we’ve fancied a hot macaroon after work (definitely recommended). It’s not even December yet but I can’t get enough!
The other night I met up with my friend, Louise (@OriginalRogue), who introduced me to a part of the markets in Albert Square which I’d never experienced before. Although the Town Hall is unmissable and prominent, especially thanks to the huge, illuminated Santa sat happily on top of the entrance, I’d usually always walked past it. Going inside, I was overwhelmed by the stunning interior and surprised to see more stalls, hosting boutique traders from Afflecks Palace.
Again, another surprise – despite living near the Northern Quarter, I haven’t yet perused Afflecks, “an emporium of eclecticism, a totem of indie commerce”, which immediately sells itself to my taste, style and interest. Amongst the beautiful jewellery stalls and kitsch clothes set-ups in the Town Hall was Thunder Egg; it was hard to miss their colourful Christmas jumpers as soon as you walk in. As soon as I spotted this particular one below, I snapped it up faster than you could say, ‘Home Alone’ – for £15, a total bargain.
If you get chance before now and Christmas, I’d urge you to get yourselves down to Manchester and explore the festive delights across the city. Whether you leave laden down with bags or simply go for the experience to get you in the seasonal mood and soak in the thriving atmosphere, make sure you explore every street, building and shop so you don’t miss out. Plus, it would be a crime to miss out on possibly the best hot mulled wine/cider out there!
PS – Another thing I urge social media geeks to do is to follow @MCRSanta on Twitter for genius tweets about life sat above the Town Hall watching over the markets – very entertaining!.