9 things to do in Manchester this December

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With the festive season quickly approaching, there are hundreds of events happening here in Manchester over the next month – it’s no wonder we’ve been crowned the ‘most festive’ city in the UK. From Christmas markets, to ice villages and pop-up bars, we’ve rounded up just a few of the best events and day trips you can take so that you can make the most of the city this Winter.

1.Manchester Christmas Markets: 12 November – 22 December

You’ve probably heard about them or visited the Markets before, but they really are worth a visit – even just for the infamous Yorkshire pudding wraps alone! The markets run throughout the city, and have everything from food and drink, to handmade gifts at more than 300 stalls. This year, Piccadilly Gardens has been transformed into a Winter Garden where you can find a variety of food and crafts stalls, as well as a stage where live music and DJs will perform throughout the festive season. 

2. Skate Manchester (Cathedral Gardens): 1 November – 3 January

Cathedral Gardens will once again be transformed into an Ice Village this Christmas, and this year it’s bigger than ever! The ice rink is promised to be nearly double the size than previous years, bringing a hint of Christmas magic to the heart of the city. Tickets cost £13.   

3. Bar Hütte (Spinningfields): Running until 9 January

Bar Hütte has returned; a pop-up bar that offers the après ski experience in the middle of Manchester! With a variety of booking options – from cosy karaoke and pup-friendly grottos, to wreath making and a family-friendly visit from Santa – there’s bound to be a hut that suits your needs. You’re also free to pop in and enjoy a drink without a reservation if you’re in need of a break from the hustle and bustle of the Markets.

4. Melanin Markets (Contact Theatre, Oxford Road): 5 December

Melanin Markets will be a day to encourage, promote and celebrate Manchester’s Black Businesses and community, with the aim to empower black business owners and break down the barriers some can face in selling their products in more mainstream avenues. The Market is the perfect place to do some Christmas shopping, hosting more than 40 stores selling a variety of gifts; from unique jewellery, books, homemade clothing, baked goods and more.

5. Lightopia Festival (Heaton Park): 25 November – 3 January

The award winning Lightopia is back and ready to light up Heaton Park this Christmas brighter than ever with brand new installations and routes. This is Europe’s biggest lantern festival: as well as interactive lights and lanterns, there will be a water-screen projection, immersive instillations, colourful lasers and performances from local musicians.

6. Christmas at Hatch (Oxford Road)

From Christmas carols to 80s discos, there’ll be a little something for every vibe this festive season. Hatch’s food traders will also be embracing the Christmas spirit, offering up seasonal dishes including Parmageddon’s epic new pigs in blankets parmo, festive cheesecakes at Oh My Cheesecake, and German brats at Grandad’s Sausages.

7. NYE Disco (Manchester Cathedral): 31 December

Wave goodbye to 2021 with some of Manchester’s top DJs and performers against the dazzling backdrop of Manchester Cathedral. A disco like no other, this is sure to be one of the best ways to ring in the new year.

8. The Frost Fair (The Whitworth Art Gallery): 4 – 5 December

The Frost Fair will take over the grounds of The Whitworth with an epic programme of music, entertainment and workshops plus an outdoor cinema, huge dancefloor, craft markets and street food. It is set to be a weekend full of art, music and culture, with visitors encouraged to reflect on the challenges of the past year and celebrate being back together.

9. Winter Island (Escape to Freight Island)

This year, Escape to Freight Island has been transformed into a magical winter wonderland with a whole host of Christmas events and activities for you to get involved in. Skate on their boutique ice rink, have breakfast with Santa, shop the markets for Christmas gifts or enjoy an orchestral performance of your favourite Christmas songs! With events running all the way up to Christmas Eve, there’s plenty of time to soak up the festive atmosphere.

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