18 Fabulously Festive Things To Do In Manchester In December

‘Tis the season for staying in and keeping warm…but it doesn’t have to be!

As winter sets in the temptation is to stay in and bask in the glow of your scented candles when you should be making the most of the last month of 2018. Check out these wonderfully festive activities and events taking place across Manchester this month and finish the year with a bang (or a banger from the Christmas markets).

1. Visit The Christmas Markets (Until December 22)

Photo: iestynhuw

Traders from across the North West and Europe have descended on Albert Square as Manchester has transformed into the UK’s Christmas capital. For the 19th year, a host of much-loved foodies and craft traders have returned for Manchester’s Christmas Markets, including Porky Pigs, the creators of the life-changing Yorkshire pudding wrap, the Amsterdam Frites stall (boasting 30 different toppings and sauces over their triple cooked fries) and Zouk, a traditional curry house offering two new curries every day with a range of veggie and vegan options. And for those with a sweet tooth, there’s bubble waffles, cupcakes and classic British favourites including Christmas puds and trifles.  Albert Square.

2. And The Night Markets (December 6 and 21)

Photo: Levymarket

Battling with all those people (and pushchairs) when you’re trying to do a bit of Christmas shopping can make the whole experience miserable. And it’s even worse for those who are just popping in for a swift sausage or a cheeky pint. Thankfully, the folks at Levenshulme Markets have the solution to our market malaise. Night markets! The group has organised a night at the museum on Thursday (December 6). Which will see stalls selling unique, handmade gifts, as well as some of Manchester’s best street food pop up at Manchester Museum from 6pm until 10pm. University of Manchester, Oxford Rd, M13 9PL. 

There will also be an after-work Christmas Party featuring Beatific DJs, a dance floor, street food, two bars and the chance for last-minute Christmas shopping on the Levenshulme station car park on December 21.  M19 2DS

3. Have A Drink At Manchester’s Peaky Blinders-Themed Bar (from December 7)

Photo: Peaky Blinders Manchester

Peaky Blinders Manchester will incorporate plenty of key elements from the show including character stills, show artwork and décor. And fans can expect to feel like they’re immersed in the Peaky Blinders experience as the ground floor of the venue (formally Sakana) will be transformed into a 1920s style beer hall, cocktail bar and live music venue. Food will be provided by Ocean Treasure Chinese who will be serving Chinese cuisine upstairs in the restaurant and small plate Dim Sum for customers who wish to dine downstairs in the bar. More information herePeter Street, M23NG.

4. Enjoy Some Chopin And Champagne By Candlelight (from December 15)

Photo: adamjamespreston

Celebrate the festive season with a performance of Chopin, complete with complimentary interval Champagne! The evening’s talented concert pianist, Warren Mailley-Smith, recently became the first British pianist to perform the complete works of Chopin from memory in one series of concerts. His talent is limitless, but tickets aren’t! Click here to book. St Ann’s Church, St Ann St, M2 7LF.

5. Take A Ride On The Festive Steam Train Full Of Christmas Magic (Until December 24)

Photo: Pat Kilner

Kick start your Christmas celebrations with a steam train ride through the North West’s very own winter wonderland, the Irwell Valley. The train will be packed with festive favourites including a traditional brass band, carol singers, costumed characters, an on-board magician and even the big man himself! Father Christmas and his elves will travel on the train with passengers, handing out gifts to the kids, while grown-ups enjoy a mince pie and a festive tipple. More information here.

6. Have Your Christmas Dinner In An Igloo (available now)

Photo: The Refinery

The Refinery’s glorious igloos are back for Christmas. Each igloo will accommodate up to eight people for dining or up to 10 for drinks and nibbles – and guests will receive full table service. Igloos of four or less can be shared on the day and treats will be available for diners to munch on include pigs in blankets, mini cheeseburgers, duck liver tarts, roasted chestnuts and wild mushroom Yorkshire puddings (among others). More information here1 Hardman Boulevard, XYZ Building, M3 3AQ.

7. Find All The Sculptures On The Ice Trail (December 15 and 22)

Photo: Twitter @totallysk

We’ve been thoroughly spoiled this Christmas in Manchester, we’ve got the markets, an ice village and numerous Alpine Villages. And now Stockport is getting a giant ice sculpture trail. The trail will be made up of ten giant sculptures featuring characters including The Grinch, Olaf from Frozen, Tinkerbell and the big man himself, Santa. On the first date, December 15, there’ll be a live carving of an angel, while on December 22, visitors will be able to watch as a unicorn is created. Click here for more information. St Peter’s Square, Stockport.

8. Have A Drink At The UK’s First Ice Bar

Photo: Hamilton Ice Sculptures

Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens will be transformed into an Ice Village this Christmas, complete with ice sculpture cave, ice bar, ice rink, Santa’s grotto and even a steam train! The train (made entirely from ice!) will take visitors on a tour the village, while the star of the show will be the ice cave, an immersive walk-through experience with a chilled ice bar and a menu of special festive drinks and cocktails. Book tickets hereCathedral Gardens, Manchester.

9. Take A Festive Music Cruise (December 16)

Photo: Manchester River Cruise

With the wintery weather setting in, the temptation is to stay in and hide from the cold, but then you’d miss out on all the wonderfully festive events happening in Manchester over Christmas. ‘Tis the season for throwing on your cosiest coat, getting out and making the most of the gorgeous winter nights with an evening cruise down the River Irwell. Enjoy a memorable evening of wine, entertainment, and a special Christmas platter! On this three-hour showboat evening cruise, you’ll be able to celebrate the festive season with a drink and a dance. Click here to book. Pier 8, The Quays, M50 3AZ.

10. Have A Cocktail And A Kebab At This Berlin Dive Bar

Photo: @honeytrapclub

Made with Northern Quarter regulars in mind, Honey Trap Club has been designed for uncomplicated fun (oo-err) with no airs and graces. Situated just off Stevenson Square, the bar promises good European beers, reinvented classic cocktails and dancing until the early hours. Above Honey Trap Club will be BAB, a gourmet kebab concept serving the grilled meat favourite in an all day, ‘grown-up’ 60 cover restaurant with an open chargrill kitchen. 14 Little Lever Street, M1 1HR.

11. Visit The ‘Happiest Place On Earth’

Foundry Project has opened in High Street in the city’s Northern Quarter and owners say it is the ‘happiest place in Manchester’. Owners say Foundry Project is all about feeling good and will be offering inventive, high-quality food and drink from breakfast through to late night cocktails, all in an environment that’s perfectly pitched for pleasure… whether that be a beautiful breakfast meeting or lounging on a Sunday. Manchester, M4 1EU.

12. Get In The Festive Spirit With A Disney-Inspired Karaoke Bottomless Brunch (December 15)

Photo: The Brunch Club

We tend to go all out in Manchester when it comes to Christmas (we do have the UK’s best markets, after all). And this year, a festive event will take place that is set to put all other years to shame. The Disney-themed bottomless brunch will take place in a secret location on December 15. The event will kick off at 11am and guests will have an hour and a half to gorge themselves on a selection of divine treats, as well as bottomless drinks if you fancy it! And you’d best fill your boots because you’ll need your energy for the next part.

From 12.30pm – 4pm a Disney-heavy karaoke free-for-all will take place with prizes for best (and worst) song. The dress code will be Christmas or Disney themed, or if you’re feeling clever, Christmas Disney. And to make things interesting, there’ll also be a prize for the best costume. Click here to book.

13. Treat Yourself To A Fancy Feast At The Ivy

Photo: @theivymanchester

The gorgeous timber-framed space is based in the city’s financial district and surrounded by lush foliage, creating a welcome green space in the heart of the city. The restaurant features a ground floor brasserie, first-floor private dining room, an opulent Asian bar and restaurant on the second floor, as well a sumptuous roof garden complete with fire pits and lush greenery on the top floor. Click here to book. The Pavilion, Byrom St, M3 3HG.

14. Get Paid To Eat Pigs In Blankets (until December 16)

Photo: Airtakser

Are you a self-confessed Christmas Dinner connoisseur? Do you love pigs in blankets? Do you love the trimmings as much as the turkey? If yes, then we’ve found the ideal job for you. The Oast House, in Manchester’s Spinningfields, is searching for one Mancunian resident to attend their ultimate Christmas taste-test for this year’s star of the show, pigs in blankets, and give them some honest feedback to help perfect their Christmas nibbles menu. More information here.

15. Visit The Impossible Alpine Village

Photo: Great Northern

This winter there’s no need to leave the city as Impossible’s Alpine Village will bring all the fun of a festive après-ski to the centre of Manchester. The Impossible Alpine Village will be open daily from noon and visitors will be able to enjoy a whole host of seasonal experiences.  Including a giant, luxury tipi and bar, decorated with thousands of shimmering lights and vintage ski memorabilia. The tipi will transport guests off-piste, providing the perfect winter setting for an unforgettable festive celebration with friends, families or for the office party. Impossible Manchester, 36 Peter St, M2 5QR.

16. Create Your Own Blended Whiskey (December 6, 10, 20)

What do you get if you combine a Chivas whisky-tasting masterclass, the chance to blend your own whisky and plenty of impressive knowledge? A dram good night, that’s what. Chivas’ pop up whisky experience, The Blend, took London by a storm last year and will be returning again to a number of venues around the country, including Manchester. Each one-hour session will include a whisky tasting masterclass, a delicious cocktail and the chance to blend your own Chivas whisky to take home. Click here to book. The Loft, Floor 4, 13 Quay Street, M3 3HN.

17. Visit The Peter Rabbit Christmas Grotto (various dates in December)

Photo: intutraffordcentre

Beatrix Potter’s most loved character, Peter Rabbit, has been brought to life in an immersive Christmas grotto experience that will be outside the Great Hall throughout the festive period. Peter Rabbit will welcome visitors into his cosy burrow before sending them off to meet his friends and explore the amazing Beatrix Potter-themed winter woodland. More information here. Trafford Centre, Stretford, M17 8AA.

18. Find Manchester’s New Secret Bar

Photo: bringandmix

There’s no shortage of secret bars in Manchester, but we’re also happy to welcome a new one. Especially bars like Bring & Mix, a password only BYOB speakeasy that opened last month in a secret location. The bespoke cocktail experience is set in the roaring 1920’s when prohibition had taken hold of the city and the only way to satisfy your cocktail urges was by getting the password to a secret establishment. Click here to book.

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