The 2014 Christmas markets in Manchester are bigger than ever and somehow, against all my usual rules about making Christmas wait until December, I have already visited – twice.
I’m not one for pushing my way through big crowds but I have learned over the years that if you slow down to “market pace” it’s much easier and much more enjoyable.
This year the markets have spread out towards the Football Museum. (Is it still OK to call it Urbis?) It doesn’t look like there are any new stalls but there’s a lot more space. After a Saturday night visit, my tip is to head down that way to get your hands on market food and mulled wine much more quickly that you will in Albert Square.
Of course, you can’t consider it a true market experience until you have browsed through all the crafty and foodie stalls outside the Town Hall, but it is starting to feel like I have seen it all before.
Except in Spinningfields, where small businesses are selling their wares, including a lady selling the biggest scones you have ever seen, in the widest variety of flavours! Head this way if you want to buy something handmade and unique.
If you want to support actual local businesses, be sure to look out for the Northern Quarter Markets on Small Business Saturday (6 December) and Levenushulme Night Markets – the first one is TONIGHT (28 November), and the foodie one is on 19 December.
For me, the true joy of the markets, is that warm Christmassy feeling you can only get from nursing a mug of mulled wine, while your ears go numb in the cold. I have tried several of the other alcoholic offerings, including eggnog punch but it was too much, even for my sweet tooth. The best I have had so far this year is the mulled wine from the bar outside Selfridges, the one that gives you a complementary mint chocolate!
Christmas in Manchester would not be the same without a visit to the markets. But, if the idea of heading out in to the cold sees you diving for another blanket instead, you can create the Christmassy feeling at home by making your own mulled wine; even better if you have a wood burning stove and leave a saucepan slowly mulling away on top – it will scent your room as well.
And for the easiest option; Aldi is currently selling Christmas market style gluhwein for less than a fiver!
I felt it would be wrong not to indulge in several bottles.