The Christmas Markets have returned to Manchester in 2022, and are bigger and better than ever. The stalls can be found across eight locations in the city centre, which is why the Lifestyle team are here to give you our guide to getting the most out of the market experience.
Full of life and vibrancy, this year’s Christmas market at Piccadilly Gardens in Central Manchester is definitely one to visit. The market is bustling and busy, and full of infectious smiles and laughter, as the delicious smell of food wafts through the market, enticing you to try every stall and every possible combination of Katsu curry fries and churros.
Additionally, the environmentally friendly drinks available to purchase (from Bailey’s hot chocolates topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles to steaming mulled wine) come in mugs that can be returned for money back. The beautiful lights and cheerful music that can be heard everywhere creates an amazing Christmassy vibe, and while they might break the bank a little, the stalls all around have delicious food and drinks to try for free before you buy. Piccadilly Gardens is definitely the place to be to get yourself into the Christmas spirit!
Market Street is often one of the more chaotic streets in Manchester’s city centre, and it’s no different at this time of year. It takes some determination to push through the crowds, but you are at least surrounded by festivities.
The stalls on Market Street are geared far more towards gift buying than food and drink, making it the perfect location to visit if you need some last-minute stocking fillers for family and friends. Interesting items on sale include Manchester-themed Christmas decorations, musical drinks coasters, and honeycomb, as well as a large area by The Arndale dedicated to outdoor furniture, just in case you want to buy a gift that you’re absolutely not going to be able to get home on the train!
Head towards Printworks in Manchester City Centre and you will find yourself in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Markets in Cathedral Gardens. This is the location where you will find the ice-skating rink, which offers family and group discounts for 45 minutes of skate time around a decorated rink. There are also numerous stalls selling unique woolly hats, a variety of cheeses and wines, and of course, the well-known Christmas tower decorated with German figurines which sit on top of the bratwurst stall. It is hard to miss and definitely a key part of your tour of the Manchester Markets.
St Ann’s Square
St. Ann’s Square is definitely worth a visit, located just a stone’s throw away from the central Piccadilly Gardens market. This bustling square is filled to the brim with festive stalls and is a popular location for shoppers.
The market here boasts an impressive array of options, including covered bar space to enjoy a drink, as well as a large variety of street food (including traditional German options) to fuel your day. There is something for everyone to be found at its many stalls – if you’re looking to do some Christmas shopping, you’ll find everything from sweet treats to locally hand-crafted and even Manchester-themed items!
Once you venture out of the more central Christmas Market locations there’s still plenty to explore, such as the classier King Street, found just off Deansgate. Here you’ll find the usual stalls offering food, drinks, gifts, and a surprising amount of cheese, all lit up underneath some of the prettiest lights around Manchester.
However, the main attraction on King Street is a large bar about halfway up the line of stalls, which looks fancy enough to be found in a hotel. There’s not the noise and crowds of somewhere like Piccadilly Gardens, so you’ll be able to treat yourself to a festive drink and be far more relaxed – King Street is a good place to head to if you’re finding the Markets overwhelming but still want to enjoy some Christmas atmosphere.
New Cathedral Street
Even on a normal day, walking down New Cathedral Street feels bougie enough, lined with high-brand clothing designers and spotless-looking streets. Even still, New Cathedral Street comes into its own at Christmastime, and the markets here feel particularly luxurious.
New Cathedral Street is the place to go for your high-end Christmas gifts. Probably one for the grandparents, stalls here sell everything from fine cast ornaments, and bespoke liquorice, to Christmassy decorations. In terms of food, New Cathedral Street is home to The Witchouse, satisfying all of your currywurst Christmas desires. New Cathedral Street also boasts stalls selling vegan chilli, New York Bagels, and cocktails.
The Corn Exchange is one of the busiest places in Manchester to walk through, even on a normal Tuesday morning when everyone in the city should be at work or school, never mind during Christmastime when one of the largest Christmas markets is planted in the middle of it. Yet, the hive of activity is made all the more popular with the festive addition of markets scattered across it.
Porky Pig’s infamous Yorkshire pudding wrap – everyone has seen it on TikTok – is enough of an incentive alone to visit these markets. If the wrap isn’t tempting enough, there’s also a bar with everything from boozy hot chocolates to mulled wine and German beer. I was happily scammed by the German bratwurst stand, selling plain bread and a single sausage for £6; simple, delicious, and spenny.
The independent retail shops, selling everything from fudge for the kids to niche varieties of cheese for mums to plaid waistcoats for grandads shouldn’t be missed. Exchange Square is one of the prettiest areas of Manchester’s Christmas markets, and should definitely be visited; that is if you don’t mind shuffling along at a snail’s pace, given it’s as busy as London Euston.
Exchange Street is the perfect place to enjoy your mulled wine away from the hustle and bustle of other areas. You can meander down the spacious street without fear of colliding with someone in the crowd or having a drink spilled down your fluffiest winter coat.
The stalls boast a variety of traders and food. There’s some particularly pretty silver jewellery on offer for those starting to think about Christmas shopping. If you eat meat it’s definitely worth giving your tastebuds a little tour of the salami samples on offer. Apparently, the hazelnut variety is delicious. Yard and Coop have also set up shop here, if chicken is slightly more to your taste than bratwurst.
Follow your ears towards the far end of the street to find the life of the party. Here you’ll find an undercover, cash-only bar that serves as the perfect refuge from the cold and wet. Warm up and get wine-merry as you dance the early evening away with the middle-aged mums and ski season wannabes. However, make sure to bring some coins along so you’re not forced to try and smuggle other vendors’ illicit mulled wine inside with you.