on February 1, 2013
A visit to the Christmas Markets in Manchester is something we, as a family, do religiously every year in December. The markets are wonderful, it is hard to believe that next year will be their 15th anniversary. They have become a feature of Christmas in the city since 1998. A group of German market traders came over that year, set up 17 stalls in St Anne's Square and the markets haven't looked back!! They have grown, become more and more successful and now, seem to have taken over the entire city. It is great.The main market is in Albert Square, right in front of Manchester Town Hall. It is very pretty, especially when it gets dark, with all the fairy lights strung around the trees and the roofs of the little wooden chalets. The giant Father Christmas who sits on the roof of the Town Hall, just above the main door, is also lit up at night and makes quite a sight.We like to go to Albert Square to sample some of the food and drinks there. They have numerous Gluhwein stalls, selling hot, spicy Gluhwein in souvenir "Manchester Christmas" mugs. You pay a £2 deposit for the mug, this is returned when you bring the mug back, or you can keep it as a souvenir. There is also a great indoor German food hall at this market - there are places to sit, German sausages sizzling on huge grills and a lovely atmosphere.There are markets across 7 main sites in the city. As well as Albert Square, there is a German themed market in St Ann's Square - watch out for great wooden toys and unusual German traditional Christmas decorations here; a French market in King Street - here you can pick up French wine, cheese, pate, lavender and other typically French things; New Cathedral street has quirkier souvenirs but if you just wander around the streets, they all link together really and you can spend the whole day browsing.Stall-holders come from many countries across Europe - we saw a stall with people from Lapland selling toy huskies and woollen goods, and there are also local people trading here too.This year the markets started on 17 November and were on every day until 23 December. They open all day, every day - if you can, it is best to visit on weekdays. Weekends get extremely busy, and it is difficult to get close to the stalls sometimes. Hundreds of thousands of people visit - most of them come on Saturdays and Sundays!We are never disappointed when we come here, year after year. It is a lovely day out, but also a great place to look for Christmas gifts that are a bit different - lovely wooden toys, fresh food and lots of handmade goods. You really are spoilt for choice.
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