A Scousers guide to the Manchester Christmas Markets - The Guide Liverpool

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A Scousers guide to the Manchester Christmas Markets


This year, the award-winning Manchester Christmas Markets celebrate 20 years as part and parcel of the north west’s festive season.

You know what to expect in terms of atmosphere, international food and quirky, artisan gifts, but how about a quick reminder of the many other top reasons to make the most of your visit to our north west neighbours? 

Read on as we take you Quarter-by-Quarter on a walking tour of Manchester Christmas Market locations with so much mint stuff to do, you’ll be buzzin’ our kid. Don’t forget to take cash with you to the markets, and if you can, avoid large crowds with a midweek visit. Nice one.

1 - Millennium Quarter

Cathedral Gardens – Christmas Market 

A short walk from Manchester Victoria Station leads to Manchester Cathedral Gardens, a winter wonderland for families enjoying the festive spirit, transformed into The Ice Village.

Explore the incredible ice sculptures in The Ice Cavern. Meet the man himself in Santa’s Grotto. Selfies at the ready in the Campervan, or get your skates on for Skate Manchester’s Ice Rink. Tickets include a free cocktail in the Ice Tiki Bar.

Free entrance but you need to pre-book tickets for each attraction here.

The Printworks 

For an ideal rainy day location for the kids, look no further than The Printworks. This is your next stop if you fancy catching a movie, grabbing something to eat, or even a round of miniature golf.

Check out The Printworks latest VUE Cinema releases here.

It’s the only Hard Rock Cafe in the north west! Make your visit especially memorable with a visit to Hard Rock Manchester, where a classic American menu meets iconic Christmas gifts and souvenirs in the Rock Shop.

Take a sneak peek of Hard Rock Manchester here.

Taxi! Corporation Street outside The Printworks.

Corn Exchange

If you fancy a sit-down stop-off, take a seat inside the Corn Exchange. This is the Grade II listed building of the Edwardian-era where you’ll find restaurants and bars covering just about every food base and dining destination. 

From Indian Street food at Mowgli, to authentic Italian at Gino D’Acampo’s My Restaurant, Pan Asian at Tampopo and Wahaca Mexican, and that’s just for starters…

Exchange Square – Christmas Market

Identified by busy, tiered walkways, carry on along the Christmas market trail to Exchange Street. This year, with 3D lighting, handmade clothing and Comic Con crafts, there’s an emphasis on design. 

While you’re there, choose from a selection of hot food and drink including antipasto, mulled wine, spicy curries, and sweet treats, including warm cookie dough and indulgent mini pancakes.

Meanwhile, make a beeline for Selfridges – full of seasonal department store goodies!

New Cathedral Street – Christmas Market 

This year, New Catherine Street creates a haven of holiday toasts, with stalls bookended by Witch-house Beer House, serving bratwurst and hot toddies, and divine cocktails from Bar Nº3. 

While sampling gin or craft beer without a care in the world, welcome newcomer LANX, offering handcrafted leather-goods from Lancaster, including brogues, boots and belts. Phwoar. 

For an all-weather location, opposite New Catherine Street, you’ll find The Arndale, filled with handy High Street stores. Also while you’re here, try to resist the sheer retail temptation of brands such as Jo Malone, Ted Baker, Reiss, BOSS and Harvey Nichols.

Taxi! Outside The Arndale.

2 - Deansgate

A handy way to navigate the city, Deansgate is the mile-long road connecting the city centre from the Cathedral to Beetham Tower with most central streets found in between. 

Head towards this area for shopping and dining, as well as the city’s oldest department store, House of Fraser – still known as Kendals to locals, if you’re looking for directions. 

Meanwhile, shop men’s shoes at Jeffrey West, womenswear at Jill Black, or stop-off at eateries including Pot Kettle Black, inside the Grade II listed, Barton Arcade. A favourite of Deansgate’s young professionals, Barton Arcade is a Victorian masterpiece of iron and glass linking St Anns Square to Deansgate.

Explore Barton Exchange here.

Taxi! Outside Barton Exchange

Drink & Dine

New to Deansgate, try Salvi’s rustic Italian with its cute aperitivo bar. And One Eight Six provides a real gentlemen’s experience serving as a barber shop with a subterranean bar, where you’re welcome to order and dine from other eateries in the city. For drinks, wrap up or start off your visit with Be At One to select from over 150 cocktails.

Give Almost Famous a go for gourmet burgers. Feeling like some Spanish flavour? Evuna Deansgate has a fantastic reputation for fish dishes. Look for something new at Platzi, serving Polish cuisine with a contemporary twist. Hot off the celebrity chef trail, James Martin Manchester, won’t disappoint. And while Hawksmoor will more than deliver for steak lovers, El Gato Negro is the place for laidback, late-night tapas.

Market Street – Christmas Market 

When it comes to the Christmas chalet season, this has to be gift central! Absolutely full of gift sets, chic accessories, one-off designs, and don’t forget to choose from the huge selection of cheese truckles – the Prosecco Wensleydale made it into last year’s Cosmopolitan magazine!

This pedestrianised location, running alongside The Arndale, is surrounded similar stores to Liverpool’s Church Street, making it perfect for last minute gift-grabbing to save you a trip into town.

3 - Piccadilly

Piccadilly Gardens – Christmas Market 

This LED-lit location is a Christmas switch-on of all things light and bright. You’ll find the illuminated Snow Globe bar, and this year, the latest addition to the Christmas Markets comes in the form of Manchester Zippy’s replacement.

The city’s new LED Santa sits on top of a huge gift, wearing an upturned moustache and holding an iconic Manchester Bee, presiding over gourmet food and live entertainment. Fancy!

4 - Northern Quarter

The dedicated district of all things independent offers a complete curio trail of unique stores and thriving bars and eateries.


Oi Polloi has been on the scene for nearly 20 years, dealing in the most cutting-edge collaborations and ultra stylish menswear brands. On the gift trail, Oklahoma is highly recommended for gorgeous gifts and handmade jewellery. Rivet & Hide export the best Japanese denim, where can make all your jean dreams come true. Down the road, Nola Boutique takes a sustainable approach to womenswear and unique homeware, and for fashion fresh from the Mediterranean, try a visit to the beautiful Beaumont Organic. 

Psst! Looking for something unusual? Paramount Books gives free fruit away with every purchase. Absolutely bananas… Fancy meeting the talented designer behind your newest Northern Quarter treasure? Then buy straight from the studio at Manchester Craft & Design Centre. And last but by no means least, the legendary Affleck’s. In their own words: The official headquarters of esoteric goods for those with creative notions including the odd and sublime from all corners. How very! 

Drink & Dine

Find the hidden staircase in Cane and Grain – serving ribs, rum, bourbon and beer – and you’ll discover the cocktail lab known as Science and Industry, with drinks such as Can’t See Wood Fir Trees. Double Down promises a five-star dive bar experience. (Try saying that after 2-for-1 on the Mojitos). For live music and comedy, try the popular Walrus hangout, and if a light bite is in order, Trof serves shakes, small plates, burgers and brunch. 

Meanwhile, Cottonopolis, situated inside the Grade II Northern Quarter corner building, offers a stunning Japanese-inspired menu. For night owls and sports fans, Dive NQ holds a 5am license. For the craft beer drinkers, try local favourite, 57 Thomas Street, or Port Street Beer House with 18 draught lines, and not to be outdone, Northern Monk with 16 keg lines, four cask ale lines and a whole load of boozy perch to sup on. Blimey.

Taxi! Lever Street & Oldham Street.

5 - Civic Quarter

St Anne’s Square – Christmas Market

In nearby St Ann’s Square you’ll find a hive of creative and decorative items for your home this Christmas, along with the market’s oldest Gluhwein stall (That’s German mulled wine, to you and me), as well as cheeses, gingerbread, salamis and other artisan products. 

The Royal Exchange

The square is also home to St Ann’s Church, a Grade I listed building moments away from The Royal Exchange. The stunning theatre space is well worth a visit in itself, and if you’re still looking for a gift or two, The Royal Exchange shop offers unique handmade pieces from iconic and emerging British designers. 

Take a look at The Royal Exchange here.

King Street – Christmas Market 

New for 2019, King Street serves up sheer indulgence with internationally-flavoured cuisine. Soak up the atmosphere with stalls selling a mixture of Italian and French produce. Food lovers can purchase Italian cheeses, panettone, cured meats, macaroons, crêpes and French saucisson. 

Also on the menu, feast on authentic Arancini (deep-fried rice balls filled with a selection of delicious savoury centres) and Calzones (oven-baked folded pizza), before sampling artisan hot chocolate and gins from The Grumpy Moose. Merry Christmas!

Retail Renown

King’s Street is one of the city’s most affluently populated retail areas. Shop Ath-Leisure at Lululemon. Visit cycling clubhouse, Rapha. Find A-list beauty at Space NK, luxurious leatherwear at Russell & Bromley, and an eclectic mix of fashion and gifts at The White stuff.

Taxi! Outside House of Fraser

Brazennose Street – Christmas Market 

Head along the stalls of Brazennose Street, a typically quieter part of the market trail, where you’ll find an on-the-move-menu, from fish and chips to pick ‘n’ mix, Christmas pudding gin to goulash, schnitzel and bratwurst. 

Albert Square – Christmas Market 

For a 360º view of the markets, step into the famous, two-storey Windmill bar, and if you’re just about ready for dinner? Choose from great locations including Albert Square Chophouse in the Memorial Hall, boutique restaurant, Tampopo, for inspired Asian cuisine, or Italian appetisers and wine at Veeno, perfect for a break after all that browsing.  

Town Hall 

You’ll also find the Grade I listed, neo-Gothic Town Hall, which is currently undergoing a major refurbishment. Scousers will recognise the building as the former home of Zippy, who’s since been moved to Trafford Park after plans to sell him by local council Grinches!

Taxi! In front of the Town Hall.

6 - Spinningfields

Manchester’s commercial district knows how to mix business with pleasure. Whether you’re looking to spend, sip cocktails, or be seated for an unforgettable dining experience, Manchester knows how to get us in a spin.

The Avenue

Host to bustling cocktail bars and restaurants, and if you’re still chasing your 2019 party look, get yourself along to The Avenue, where a hub of international high-end fashion awaits, with flagship stores including Emporio Armani, DKNY and Oliver Sweeney.

Drink & Dine

Australasia Restaurant serves up Pacific flavours with a blend of Indonesian, Southeast Asian and Japanese flair in a beautiful, white-washed space. For something quick and cute, lunch and brunch are a speciality at Manahatta NYC-themed restaurant. The Refinery is a laidback Industrial-style eaterie with international influences. 

Meanwhile, enjoy modern British with a great view at 20 Stories. Go Spanish-Austurian at Ibérica mezzanine kitchen, or explore modern Chinese at Tattu Restaurant and Bar. For entertainment as you eat, hit BLVD for a globally-influenced menu available until 10pm, when tables are cleared for live entertainment and a thirst-quenching cocktail menu.

Feeling a bit spesh? Book ahead for The Ivy Spinningfields. 

Getting There

Regular services direct from Liverpool Lime Street:

Manchester Victoria – Families travelling to Ice Village at Cathedral Gardens (45 mins)

Manchester Piccadilly – Piccadilly Gardens and/or Northern Quarter (1hr)

Manchester Oxford Road – Albert Square (1hr)

Prebook your tickets here.

Download your Manchester Christmas Market map here.

Manchester Christmas Markets are open until Saturday 21 December.

Full list of taxi ranks here.

Full list of car parks here.

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