The festive season is now in full swing, and naturally, we’re seeking out the very best ways to make the most of it before it inevitably comes to an abrupt end. Fancy celebrating in style this year? From wonderful Christmas shows and candlelight concerts to indulging in all of the festive food and drink Manchester has to offer, here are the most festive things to do in Manchester over the Christmas period.
1. Grab a Yorkshire pudding wrap at Porky Pigs
When it comes to Manchester Christmas Market traders, Porky Pig is iconic. Popping up every single year, the beloved stall offers up their now-famous Yorkshire pudding wraps, which are stuffed with pretty much an entire roast dinner and smothered in gravy before being sealed to perfection on the grill. It’s not a successful Christmas without one, that’s for sure.
2. Relive the magic of your favourite Christmas movies at this candlelight concert
While watching Christmas films over a cup of hot chocolate may seem like the best option, the truth is that reliving them while a string quartet plays your Christmas film songs surrounded by hundreds of candles is unparalleled. Let yourself be swept away by an intimate evening as candlelight illuminates all of the corners of not one but two iconic Manchester venues this Christmas – Manchester Cathedral and Concorde Conference Centre. These enchanting Candlelight concerts will feature some of your favourite movies’ scores like Home Alone, Love Actually, Elf, The Holiday, and many, many more.
You’ll find Candlelight Christmas at Manchester Cathedral, M3 1SX and Concorde Conference Centre, Altrincham, WA15 8XQ.
Tickets are available here.
3. Practice your ice skating skills
Grab your skates, Mancs, you’ve pulled! (A date with the ice rink, that is). Popping up all over the city for the festive season, guests can glide their way towards December 25th to the tune of Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday while enjoying a hot mug of mulled wine, with plenty of new and wintery scenes to skate around. From views of the festive markets at Skate Manchester to the Trafford Centre’s glimmering TinselTown, Manchester boasts a number of ice skating rinks to glide across this winter.
4. Browse quirky Christmas gifts at the annual markets
It might be a novelty, but that’s kind of the point. Here once a year only, Manchester’s wonderful market traders have some lovely, quaint gifts to explore – even if it’s just to have a look. From cute, festive ornaments to locally made crafts, there’s tons to explore.
5. Immerse yourself in all things festive at Miracle on Cross Street
Back for 2022, Miracle on Cross Street might just be the most Christmassy bar Manchester has ever seen. Fully decked out with all the festive décor, guests can feel like they’ve been transported into a Christmas film at this festive bar, with plenty of Christmas treats on offer during your visit.
You’ll find Miracle on Cross Street at Salt Dog Slims, 17 Bow Lane, M2 4FW.
Tickets cost £15 per person which includes your 90 minute sitting, an arrival drink, a Christmas hat, a festive goody bag, and as many mince pies as you can eat!
6. Grab some Christmas shopping under the festive roof of the Trafford Centre
There’s nowhere better for shopping in Manchester than the Trafford Centre. It’s kind of like the holy mecca for retail addicts, with tons of big names under one roof. But what makes it extra special? Its unique architecture resembles the grand baroque era, and is annually decked out with sparkling Christmas lights once the festive season comes around.
7. Tuck into Northern Soul’s Crimbo Dinner toastie
Marking Manchester’s official start of Christmas, the UK’s first grilled cheese restaurant, Northern Soul, has brought back its beloved Crimbo Dinner grilled cheese. Stacked high with fillings such as turkey, cranberry, stuffing, gravy and delicious cheese, the cult favourite sandwich is joined by an array of other festive bites, including grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with brie, roast ham, festive chutneys and more. Essentially, the best bits of Christmas in one toasted sandwich– what more could you want?
8. Get lost in a trail of Christmas lights
Manchester’s Christmas lights are officially back, and just like recent years, people enjoying the city can enjoy a huge trail of them spanning across some of the most popular areas in town. It’s free to do, and perfect for festive strolls in the evening. However, for more added magic this Christmas, Mancs can venture to beautifully-curated, twinkling light trails in and around the region such as Christmas at Dunham Massey and Heaton Park, the Twilight Trail at Mayfield Park and Glow at RHS Bridgewater.
9. Cosy up in one of the city’s wintery terraces, tipis or huts with a mulled wine
Nothing beats kicking back in a cosy spot on a cold day, and luckily for us, Manchester is absolutely full of ’em. From the alpine-themed huts at Bar Hütte to the wintery terrace at The Refuge, the Teepee at The Oast House to The Black Friar’s Winter Tavern, there’s plenty to choose from – with many of which serving up proper hearty grub and warming glasses of mulled wine. And how can you not have a least one mulled wine this festive season?
10. Discover the most brie-lliant fromage on this cheese crawl
Nothing says the festive season quite like cheese – we Camembert a Christmas without it! Why not munch on moreish cheese whilst exploring the city on this Manchester cheese crawl. On what might be the gratest crawl in Manchester, you will be able to discover the finest and most brie-lliant cheeses, with very mature fun facts along the way. There’s no feta way to get in the festive mood than the Manchester Cheese Crawl – plus this experience can be a great gift for friends or family members.
You’ll find Manchester Cheese Crawl at Richard Cobden Statue, St Ann’s Square, M2 7JB.
Tickets are available here.
11. Catch a Christmas show or pantomime
Nothing says Christmas quite like a show or pantomime, and thankfully, there are a wide selection of performances to enjoy in Manchester this festive season. From family favourites to beautiful ballet performances, playful pantos to amazing adaptations, Christmas in Manchester is sure to be show-stopping.
12. Indulge in a warming mug of hot chocolate
There’s only one drink to enjoy as a wondrous, winter warmer in Manchester: the classic hot chocolate. From those warming enough to defrost our cold, unbothered hearts, to those sweet enough to class as a dessert, there are plenty of hot chocolates to sip on for the ultimate cosy vibes this Christmas.
13. Enjoy a festive bottomless brunch
Possibly one of the best ways to kick off the festive season in Manchester is by having a banging bottomless brunch. Bars and restaurants across the city are offering festive brunch menus complete with free-flowing bubbles and Christmassy cocktails to celebrate the season.
14. Sing your heart out to festive tunes in a cosy cabin
Christmas means the classic festive tunes return and there are a few spots in the city where you can unleash your inner Mariah or Bublé. Bringing ski village vibes to Great Northern Square and Kampus, guests at Bar Hütte will be able to book out their very own private ‘hütte’, and they haven’t forgotten the much-loved karaoke sessions, either, with each hütte coming complete with its very own machine loaded up with the best festive hits.
You’ll find Bar Hütte at Great Northern Square, M3 4EN and Kampus, Aytoun Street, M1 3GL.
Each hütte costs £60 for exclusive use for 1 hour and 40 minutes with full use of the karaoke machine.
15. Deck the halls with these wreath making classes
The Christmas tree might be up but a beautiful wreath to your door adds the finishing touch and a warm, festive welcome. This season, The UK School of Floristry based in Bury are offering festive wreath-making classes, with their expert tutors guiding students to help create fabulously festive door wreaths using fresh winter foliage, with several classes over selected weekends during the Christmas period. Plus, Manchester spots such as Bar Hütte, Winter Island, Hatch, The Refuge, Canto and INNSiDE Manchester are all hosting their own wreath-making workshops to get involved in.
You’ll find The UK School of Floristry at 16-20 Heaton Fold, Bury, BL9 9HF.
Tickets cost £65 per person for a two and half hour wreath-making class.
16. Witness a magical candlelit ballet performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and more
What better way to fully get yourself into the Christmas spirit than by attending a candlelit concert featuring music from Tchaikovsky’s breathtaking pieces, including the Nutcracker, at Manchester Cathedral. Let the soothing melodies wash over you as you sit surrounded by candlelight. Not only will the mesmerising notes be delighting audiences, but ballerinas from the Madrid Dance Company are set to perform during some of the spectacular works.
You’ll find Candlelight: Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker featuring ballet at Manchester Cathedral, M3 1SX.
Tickets are available here.
17. Discover these magical alternative Christmas markets
Sure, the famous Manchester Christmas Markets are the flagship of the festive season here in the city. But if you’re tired of the same old sights after visiting season after season, there’s plenty more to see and do outside of those lined-up timber chalets. From quaint and Christmassy food markets to perfect independent gift stalls, there’s an assortment of alternative Christmas markets taking place in Manchester this year.
18. Hop aboard this festive train ride through the countryside with Santa
You better not pout and you better not cry, Santa Claus is coming to town! Steam into Christmas on the East Lancashire Railway’s famously festive Santa Specials. Begin the adventure at Bury Bolton Street Station where you will journey through a gorgeously decorated winter wonderland. Say hello to Mrs Claus and the talking Christmas Tree, and maybe even stop for a quick singalong with our carol singing choir of polar bears, before boarding your train. Whilst travelling, Santa himself will visit your carriage with a gift, a chat and even a selfie!
You’ll find Santa Specials at East Lancashire Railway, Bolton Street Station, Bury, BL9 0EY.
Tickets start from £31.50 for adults depending on time and date.
19. Gorge on plenty of mince pies at these Manchester spots
Christmas time is the one time a year that we can gorge on mince pies for every meal of the day – and not a single person can say a thing about it. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Starting with the finest mince pies served up at some of the best bars and restaurants in Manchester, we’re so ready to turn into a giant, sugar-dusted shortcrust, before, of course, turning to our trusty British supermarkets on Christmas Eve and scooping up any (and all) discounted boxes.
20. Snuggle up watching a festive film at King Street Townhouse
Shimmering with Christmas lights inside and out, King Street Townhouse will host both festive afternoon teas and Christmassy cinema screenings, where guests will be able to kick back and relax away from the Manchester chill. The hotel’s cosy, mini 20-seater cinema will show a huge array of festive screenings ahead of Christmas Day, with tons of classics to enjoy including Home Alone, Elf, Love Actually, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Die Hard, Bad Santa and It’s A Wonderful Life.
You’ll find King Street Townhouse at 10 Booth Street, M2 4AW.
Tickets start from £16.54 per person.
21. Marvel at sparkling street performers as Manchester’s Festive Sundays return
If Manchester wasn’t going to be oozing enough Yuletide vibes with the return of the Christmas markets and the lights illuminating the streets, the Festive Sundays series are coming back to the city. Over four consecutive Sundays, sparkling street performances will be taking over Manchester city centre to delight and surprise families in the run up to Christmas. Festive Sundays will see roaming puppets and illuminated acts take to the city’s main shopping streets, every Sunday from November 26 – December 17.
22. Enjoy a festive tipple at this no nonsense wine tasting event at Provence
Spinningfields’ cocktail and wine bar, Provence, is hosting the ultimate Crimbo Night In. Enjoy the festive-themed, no nonsense wine tasting event, hosted by wine sommelier and in-house grape guru, Rebecca Mason, complete with five festive wines paired with a host of delicious Christmas buffet snacks – from cheese & crackers, mince pies and sausage rolls – all included within the £30 per person ticket price. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, join Provence for the laid-back festive wine tasting on December 6, 7pm-8.30pm (the final in a series of monthly tasting events throughout 2023).
You’ll find Provence at Unit G21, The Avenue, Spinningfields, M3 3HF.
Tickets start from £30 per person.
Also published on Medium.