The festive season has finally arrived and is 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 in Manchester’s iconic Stoller Hall as candlelight illuminates all of its corners. The enchanting Candlelight concert 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 Stoller Hall, Hunts Bank, M3 1DA.
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 being sky high at Escape to Freight Island 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.
Not only can you watch The Chosen One and his adventures this holiday season, but now you can follow the winter woodland trail of ‘Harry Potter: The Forbidden Forest Experience’, inspired by the Harry Potter™ and Fantastic Beasts™ series. You’ll be transported inside the pages of the iconic books as you meet magical creatures and explore stunning sets brought to life by immersive sounds and atmospheric lighting. A great getaway from the city, ‘Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience’ returns to bring your favourite moments from the films to life amidst the beautiful grounds of Arley Hall & Gardens.
You’ll find Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience, Arley Hall & Gardens, Arley, Northwich, CW9 6NA
Tickets are available here.
6. 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!
7. 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.
8. 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?
9. 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 Lightopia, Christmas at Dunham Massey and Glow at RHS Bridgewater.
10. Gimme, gimme, gimme a Christmas party not to forget
Like It Love It are bringing a unique festive experience like no other in Manchester, where everyone’s favourite iconic Swedish pop group will be getting a Christmas makeover. Get ready to Voulez-Vous as a fine line-up of festive performers brings you all the best bangers, Christmas disco vibes, and hilarious feel-good fun. Take to the floor and boogie all afternoon to the créme de la créme of the Christmas charts, alongside ABBA’s most classic hits. There’s snow place like an ABBA Christmas Day Party!
You’ll find ABBA Christmas Day Party at Boujee, 34 Bridge St, M3 3BT.
Tickets are available here.
11. 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 MOTLEY, the Curious 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?
12. 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.
13. 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.
At this candlelight concert, settle down and listen to four seasons in just two hours – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concerto that is. Far less stressful. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Candlelight at St Ann’s Church will bring talented classical musicians to the beautiful setting for a glowing performance sure to get you in the festive mood. Let the stresses of the Christmas season melt away as the music of the masters washes over you!
You’ll find Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Candlelight at St Ann’s Church, St Ann Street, M2 7LF.
Tickets are available here.
15. 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. From Mistletoe Martinis and Christmas Coladas at Revolución de Cuba to Funky Geisha and Gold Dust cocktails at Firefly, alongside their Aspen Brunch Club menu.
16. Sing your heart out to festive tunes
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, 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. Plus, MOTLEY is hosting Christmas Carol-Oke this festive season, giving guests the chance to battle it out in the venue’s stunning karaoke room ‘The Chapel’, before enjoying festive feasts including traditional Eccles cakes and Christmas pudding bon bons.
17. Enjoy an epic Christmas social by lobbing candy cane axes at Whistle Punks
‘Tis the Christmas season…A.K.A. AXEMAS. So get your gang together and make up for all the missed socials this year. What better feeling is there than lobbing candy cane axes while donning your fave Christmas jumper? Whistle Punks also have a great selection of festive packages that will make it even easier to sleigh your team social this year.
You’ll find Whistle Punks at Great Northern Warehouse, 235 Deansgate, M3 4EN.
Tickets are available here.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. Visit the set of Manchester’s favourite soap but in all its Christmas glory
Corrie lovers can expect expert guided tours of the set with a festive twist, featuring a look back at some of the iconic scenes from Christmases past, plus Yuletide cheer from carol singers and festive treats. Guests can take a stroll past the Roy’s Rolls Café, check out Kev’s car shop and wander past The Kabin – not forgetting a photo moment in front of the most action-packed pub in the North-West, The Rovers Return. Coronation Street: Christmas on the Cobbles Tour also give the biggest fans a chance to meet one of your favourite characters too.
You’ll find Coronation Street: Christmas on the Cobbles Tour at ITV Studios, Trafford Wharf Road, Trafford Park, M17 1FZ.
Adult tickets start from £28.
22. Snuggle up watching a festive film at Backyard Cinema
There’s no better cinema experience than cosying up with a good film especially at Christmastime. Backyard Cinema offers an immersive cinema experience that is more than just the movies, and it has now arrived in Manchester. Audiences can expect to be transported on a magical journey to a cinema like no other, as well as get comfortable in front of the big screen on a comfy, giant beanbag. Visitors have to make choices as they explore movie-grade sets, through tunnels of trees, magical doors to eventually discover the Enchanted Forest and home of the Lost Theatre.
You’ll find Backyard Cinema at Depot Mayfield, M1 2PY.
Adult tickets start from £22.
Also published on Medium.