Bratwurst stall

7 tips for visiting Manchester Christmas Markets

It was my first visit to Manchester Christmas Markets this year and I don’t think I appreciated the scale of them beforehand. 

With more than 300 stalls, selling everything from food and drink to Christmas crafts and presents, you’ll be spoilt for choice on your visit.

While we managed to see a reasonable amount, considering we had two toddlers in tow, there was lots we missed. A return visit is definitely needed! 

Stalls at Manchester Christmas Markets

But if you’re also a first time visitor, here are my tips for making the most of Manchester Christmas Markets:

Plan a rough route

Manchester Christmas Markets are actually spread over 10 areas of the city. It’s worth thinking about what you want to see, as it’s unlikely you’ll get around them all. Grab a map when you arrive, or download one from the Manchester Christmas Markets website beforehand.

Albert Square is the main area of the markets. It has a huge two-storey bar, complete with a moving reindeer head, which was the highlight for our little adventurer!

You’ll also probably want to make a stop at Cathedral Gardens. This is home to the Ice Village, including a skating rink and Ice Cavern bar.

Take cash

Not all stalls take cards and there’s nothing worse than finding exactly what you want to eat and then not being able to buy it! 

The bars also require refundable deposits of £3 for mugs and £1-£1.50 for glasses. 

Pace yourself with food and drink

One thing I can guarantee, is that you’ll be spoilt for choice for food and drink at Manchester Christmas Markets. 

There is SO MUCH FOOD. From European bratwurst and strudel to more local offerings, including grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade burgers.

Waffle and mug celebrating 20 years of Manchester Christmas Markets

Take your Christmas shopping list

As well as the food, drink and activities, there’s lots of stalls selling Christmas gifts and decorations. It was really nice to see some locally made produce too. Perfect if you’ve still got some Christmas shopping to do!

Get there early

We visited on the opening weekend of Manchester Christmas Markets and although we arrived reasonably early, it was really busy. (Although our friends who live there told us this was nothing compared to what it’s like later in the season!) 

So if you want to bag a seat or avoid the worst of the crowds, make sure you get there early. It opens at 10am.

Wrap up warm

After spending a morning/afternoon outdoors you’ll soon start to feel the traditional northern weather! Many of the bars are open-air, so make sure you wrap up in lots (and lots!) of layers. 

Soak up the atmosphere!

One of the things I love most about Christmas markets is everyone is in a good mood. There’s music playing, yummy food and everyone’s rocking their Christmas jumpers. It’s a great place to people watch and start conversations with other visitors sharing your tables. 

If you aren’t at peak festive levels by the time you leave, you really are a Scrooge!

Manchester bee

Manchester Christmas Markets run until 21/22 December, 10am to 9pm. (With Cathedral Gardens open until 5 January.)