26th November 2015

A student’s guide to the Christmas markets

Polly Brown reveals all on how to navigate the Christmas markets on a dwindling student budget

If a whimpering sound is heard, never fear, it’s just your bank account cowering from the Christmas cheer. As anyone with a student loan can testify, the dawning of the Christmas Markets is bitter sweet.

When it comes to the Christmas Markets, timing is everything. Timing is the fundamental component to the kind of shopping experience you want to have. If you are looking to have an efficient shopping experience, with minimal collisions and minimum stress, then going during midweek is best advised. There are no crowds, no queues and, usually, no push chairs to get in your way.

Of course, if style over substance is the aim of your venture then going at peak times such as weekends is when you’ll get the most vibrant atmosphere. With stowaway taverns and mulled wine stands around every corner, just the smells alone will mask the bitterness of an empty bank account and a rainy night.

This being said, for those of the student population that are, indeed, strapped for cash and still clutching onto the hope of giving half decent Christmas presents, the time to go to the markets is late. The success rate for bartering is much higher and the rewards more worthwhile. Many store holders are eager to get rid of stock during this time and will make deals they wouldn’t usually make. Let’s face it, no one wants a Reindeer ornament after Christmas.

The debate of whether your needs are greater than others is a moral battle all students must fight and one that gets greater still during the festive season. To buy or not to buy is always the question. It’s also a question that might never get answered if you don’t keep your personal belongings within close contact. Mancunions have been advised to watch out for pickpockets this year, as there have been a number of reported thefts.

As many of the beer taverns and bistro cafes do not have an abundance of seating areas, make sure to put your leg through any bag straps and keep carrier bags within eyesight. The markets attract a lot of crowds towards the end of November and it is easy to lose not only possessions but people. If you’re thinking of going in a group, it might be helpful to wear something distinctive.

Several of the stalls look identical and some of them even appear twice in various different locations. To prevent confusion and an angry call from your friend, wearing something easily noticed is, actually, a big time saver. No one likes to play ‘Where’s Wally?’ when there’s food around.

Thanks to extra visitors, the roads and buses are even busier during rush hour, so it may be advised to set off earlier than usual.

Don’t worry, however, your ride through curry mile into town will be rewarded. With food stalls selling hog roasts, waffles, and schnitzels, you’ll be in food coma central.

As the markets are spread out in various locations around Manchester, wear extra warm clothing. The weather is turning colder and the day will feel longer traipsing around the stalls. As already mentioned, many stalls appear twice but this does not mean they are selling goods for the same price. Make a comparison before any purchases. It could mean you can afford that beer at the end of the day. The beer that will drown your sorrows thinking about all the money you just spent.

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