13 Things To See, Drink and Eat At Manchester's Christmas Markets This Year
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Manchester’s award-winning Christmas Markets are set to return this festive season (complete with icon mug and that ever traditional singing moose head) running from Thursday 10 November up until Tuesday 20 December 2016 with the iconic Albert Square site remaining open for an additional day.
The now world-renowned markets began in 1998 taking inspiration from the traditional German markets (or “Weihnachtsmarkt”) but have expanded to include many other European cultures and continue to grow each year.
Estimated to attract 900,000 visitors to the 350 or so wooden-clad stalls, here’s a look at some of the things you can expect to see, drink and taste:
1. Mulled wine
To give it its German name, Glühwein (meaning “glow wine” because of the hot irons used in the mulling process) is a must to keep market-goers toasty in the cold winter weather.
If wine isn’t your thing then try an equally boozy spiced cider or a spicy orange punch flavoured with Jagermeister.
Complete the German ensemble by tucking into a classic Bavarian bratwurst. These jumbo sausages are a market favourite. Other traditional German foods to tuck into include schnitzels, flammkuchens (German style pizzas with cheese and meat), salami and those melt-in-your-mouth strudels.
The seafood and rice dish may not be the first thing you think of when you think of Christmas but there will be a taste of Spain at this year’s market - expect everything from freshly-cooked paella to chorizo rolls washed down with some Spanish beer and wine.
Another signature from the continent, goulash is the national dish of Hungary.
A paprika-flavoured stew packed with beef and potatoes, it was traditionally used to feed the herdsmen of Central Europe after a long day’s work so strolling around the market is no problem.
5. Belgian waffles
Those with a sweet tooth may already be salivating. These indulgent desserts can come in a variety of flavours, laced with whipped cream, chocolate and strawberries.
The diet can wait until January.
6. Dutch pancakes
For those who prefer their desserts a bit flatter, grab yourself a Dutch mini pancake or three. Other Dutch delights include biscuits, cookies, waffles, doughnuts and cake.
7. Hot chocolate
If you still haven’t quite satisfied that chocolate craving then why not get another dose - in molten liquid form.
With a dollop of cream, plenty of marshmallows and a splash of rum, there’s nothing better for dipping your stollen in.
8. Hog Roast
Steaming pork in a bun… need I say more?
Wash it down with a tankard of locally-produced dark ale for that authentic medieval banquet feeling.
Sweet and savoury, there’ll be plenty to choose from. After all, Christmas isn’t complete without a classic mince pie - but for those wanting something more savoury there will be a selection of open and closed crust hand-crafted Cumbrian pies. Omnomnom.
10. Cheese n' chutney
In typical Brit style, some of Cheshire’s finest cheese, chutney, jams and spreads will be at the Christmas market this year. Whether you scoff the lot there and then or save some as gifts, there's no judgement here.
If for some reason you’ve had enough of food and drink, there’ll be an endless selection of crafts on offer.
As well the standard handmade and personalised Christmas decorations and knick-knacks you can pick up anything from handmade Moroccan tea glasses to Indian velvet wall-hangings, natural skincare body butters, patchwork cushions, metal sculptures and faux fur clothing.
12. Fun fair
Away from the hubbub of the main market sites, Cathedral Gardens will once again play host to a family-friendly traditional funfair complete with carousel, helter skelter and tea cup ride. The usual selection of bratwurst, waffles, hot chocolate and mulled wine will also be available.
13. Ice rink
A new addition for 2016, Cathedral Gardens will be transformed into a winter wonderland as an ice rink opens on 4 November, the same night as the Christmas Lights switch-on in Albert Square. It will allow families to skate against a beautiful and historic backdrop for a proper festive feel throughout the season until 8 January.
Stalls can be found at Albert Square, Brazennose Street, King Street, St Ann’s Square, Exchange Street, Market Street, New Cathedral Street, Exchange Square, The Corn Exchange and Cathedral Gardens.
For the best experience, go late afternoon time where it’s a little less busy and when you can see the Christmas lights in full beam.
It’s also a good idea to take cash as many stall holders do not accept card.