A few weeks ago distinctive wooden chalets started to arrive and fill the streets of our city. Son noticed straightaway and from then on has been lobbying hard to visit the Christmas markets. My position is to hold out until at least the first weekend in December, after that resistance is futile and the Christmas markets become part of our festive calendar. They are here for five weeks, plenty of time to browse, soak up the lovely atmosphere and get the Christmas mood underway.
I remember back in 1999 Husband and I browsing the 15 stalls run by some German people in one of Manchester’s main squares. That was hugely successful, the German stall holders returned and kept returning year after year. In those days we used to travel to Germany for a long weekend in December to visit the German markets. Nowadays we don’t do that – spoilt here there are over 350 stalls in 10 key locations and the Manchester Christmas Markets are amongst the largest in the UK. Stall holders travel from Germany but many other countries as well – paella, macaroons and many other food offerings feature. Strolling around this year it really did feel as if the markets take over the city, they wind their way through most of the main streets and all of the squares.
Our first stop was Albert Square. This is the hub and right at the heart of things. Lots of stalls, much delicious food on offer but also so crowded and literally a sea of people – the downside of visiting on a weekend, I was adamant we wouldn’t do that again. This is always the busiest spot but I have to admit on a Saturday afternoon it was unbearable.
Son has his favourite pancake stall – we visit year after year, it has become a tradition now and this year was no different.
Pancake scoffed we just wandered, remarking how every year the markets seem to get bigger.
There are all sorts of festive goods on offer but for us it’s more about soaking up the atmosphere and trying the food. The smell of Bratwurst, Gluhwein and gingerbread fill the air wherever you go – avoidance is not an option.
We left the markets as it was getting dark, they become even more magical with all the twinkling lights.
Every year a giant Santa takes up position on top of the Town Hall roof and watches over the proceedings – he looks great in the dark too….
A highlight of the Christmas build-up for us, we will be back to the markets several times before Christmas – just not on a weekend.