Top 10 things to do in Manchester at Christmas

Carbon Creative’s guide to Christmas in Manchester

When it comes to Christmas, Manchester has it perfected. When those little wooden huts begin to appear, you know the festivities have begun (even if it’s only mid-November). However it’s no longer just the Christmas markets that carry Manchester through the festive period. From wreath making workshops to spooky festive ghost tours, here are Carbon’s top picks of local Christmas activities.

1. Manchester Christmas Markets: Predictable choice on a list like this, but for good reason. Having made 2 trips myself already; I can confirm that they are as good as ever. Mulled wine, pancakes and endless cheese tasters – what more could you ask for? Also weekday nights tend to be much more amicable than a weekend visit, when the hoards of manic Christmas fanatics make gently sipping your mug of mulled wine just that little bit more challenging.

2. The Xmas Beer Bash: For anyone who has not yet attended street food bonanza Guerrilla Eats, you are missing out. Located in a disused warehouse on Blossom Street, every Saturday an array of street food traders come together to feed the hoards of hungry Mancunians in attendance. Friday Dec 19th will see them hold a special Xmas Beer Bash, which combines both the usual street food delights with a line-up of some of the finest local breweries. For all those real ale lovers out there, this is surely not to be missed.

3. Christmas Wreath Making: For anyone looking to get their creative juices going this Christmas, wreath making is the perfect activity. Numerous locations are offering this festive workshop including both Tatton Park and the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.

 4. Spinningfields Christmas Market: The posh cousin of the Manchester Christmas Markets, the Spinningfields Christmas Market runs 4 days a week and offers a tantalising array of artisan food producers and independent arts and crafts creators. Definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for something a bit different.

5. Ice skating: The ultimate festive activity, when non skaters such as myself get into the Christmas spirit by wrapping up warm and spending an hour of our lives clinging to the safety railing at the side of the rink, terrified that we’re going to fall over and get our fingers chopped off my one of the manic skaters whizzing by. What could be more christmassy?!

6. The Magical Christmas Drive-In Spectacular: If you’d rather not spend your evening bracing yourself against the icy Manchester weather, then why not load up the car with popcorn and head out to Old Trafford to watch a drive in movie. Showing everything from the Christmas classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, to ‘Home Alone’, ‘Elf’ and ‘Frozen – the sing-a-long version’ (as if there’s any other), there is something for everybody.

7.  A theatre trip: If this years panto offerings don’t tickle your fancy, do not despair as both the Lowry and the Exchange offer great alternatives. For all the ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ fans out there, don’t miss your chance to see this Olivier winning production at the Lowry theatre in Salford Quays. Alternatively the ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at the Exchange Theatre promises to be a quirky, sparkly, musical masterpiece.

8. Off the High Street Christmas Market: Yes, yet another market to visit! Market number 3 on our list is the Castlefield market and is held indoors in the beautiful Upper Campfield Victorian Market Hall. Stocked by local artists and specialist traders and open Friday, Saturday and Sunday up until Christmas, if you want to break away from the crowds of Market Street and Albert Square then this is a great option.

9. Ghost stories with a festive twist: Located just across the road from Carbon Creative is the beautifully spooky Ordsall Hall. If you fancy a change from the usual festive activities then their offering of spooky stories teamed with a festive ghost tour, may be right up your alley.

10. Hot Toddy drinking: Some may not consider this an activity, but I would have to disagree. Making a nice change from mulled wine and cider, many of the bars and restaurants in Manchester are offering hot toddies as an alternative winter warmer. My personal favourite is available at the Whisky Jar in the Northern Quarter.


If you can recommend anything we’ve missed, be sure to let us know!