Adjusting to the weather
Amongst my friends, I’m usually that one person already layering and wearing large winter coats by mid-October. I live in Zambia which is in Southern Africa, and normally I can still walk around in flip flops during our winters. Temperatures are only their lowest early in the mornings and by midday, the sun is out and average temperatures are as high as 26°C in winter! Therefore, you can only imagine what Christmas in Manchester is like for me – cold. Simply wet and freezing cold. But this isn’t going to be an endless rant about the weather as I’m sure you’d be quick to assume that I probably hibernate all December and refuse to leave my room. On some occasions, it has been very tempting to do so however one of the many reasons I chose to study in Manchester, was to step out of my comfort zone and experience life in a completely different environment and cultural set up.
The first time it snowed during my first year at uni, I remember running outside like a little girl bubbling with excitement – it was my first time seeing real snow. I stood outside and watched the little white flakes fall onto the ground and vanish into wet puddles. The snow in Manchester was obviously nothing like what I had seen in the movies, and I was a little bummed I wouldn’t get to build a snowman. But not all was lost, there’s so much more to do during Christmas season and despite the cold, I’ll have to admit it’s become my favourite time of the year. Where do I begin? The Christmas markets, ice skating, all the yummy food, hot chocolate, the light switch on, fireworks – the list could go on and on.
The Christmas Markets
My top two favourites would have to be The Christmas markets and going ice skating! There are so many stalls at the Christmas markets which have been set up in various locations around the city, with a wide range of goodies from arts and crafts to food and drinks. At St. Anne’s Square, you will find the German Christmas markets. According to Manchester city council, this was the original site where a group of traders from Frankfurt were invited to host a small traditional market there in 1998. Ever since then it has developed into one of the most popular markets, selling German Christmas gifts, strudels, sweets and Bratwurst.
The European markets at Albert square also tops the list and my reasoning can be summed up in two words – Nutella waffles! If you’re a chocolate fan like myself, I highly recommend trying them. There’s nothing more fascinating than watching your waffle getting made and drizzled with Nutella and cream or strawberries if you choose. When it comes to the treats at the markets – I believe every day is justified cheat day!
Even though I mentioned ice skating as one of my favourite activities, don’t be fooled into thinking I’m any good at it. Before coming to Manchester I’d only ever been ice skating twice. The first time probably doesn’t count as I fell face first when I stepped onto the ice and decided to drag myself along the rink walls until the session was over. The second time wasn’t any different although I was a little braver and managed to let go of the walls every now and then. But who would go to the tiny indoor ice skating rink when it’s thirty degrees outside and you can go swimming instead? So I had given up on the whole ice skating thing a while ago until I came to uni and eventually gave in to all the society Christmas socials and invites. This time round, the fear of falling wasn’t quite as crippling as the embarrassment of being the odd one out who can’t skate. Just picture that random older looking girl hanging onto one of the penguin support cones given to the five year olds. However, to my surprise I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t all that great on skates! In fact, it was quite encouraging to watch those who were still learning give it their best shot and pick themselves up every time they fell. So I ditched the penguin cone thing and gave it my best shot too. Fortunately, I was a whole lot more successful, plus I had my wonderful friends by my side to help me balance every time I lost control.
In conclusion, Christmas season really is one of the best times to be in Manchester. Whether you’re not new to the cold or it’s your first time experiencing snow – I urge you to go out there and fill yourselves up with this joy and cheerfulness that the Christmas spirit brings. There’s truly something for everyone to enjoy and it’s the perfect time to catch up with all your mates before everyone disappears for the break and returns for exams. Here’s a short clip to sum up my Manchester at Christmas highlights.