Grand Opening of Manchester Christmas Markets

  • The UK’s original, award-winning Christmas Market is now open, transforming Manchester city centre into a festive wonderland
  • Loose Women and Coronation Street star Sherrie Hewson, Anja Manke, the original Christmas Market trader, and Pat "Mr Christmas" ​​​​​​​Karney, Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson, were all there to open the Markets (Follow the NQ for interviews!)

The world-famous Manchester Christmas Markets returned today to kick off the festive season in Manchester.

The Markets features nearly 350 stalls across 10 distinctive sites and will be open for the festive season from today until Tuesday, 20 December, with the Albert Square site closing Wednesday, 21 December at 6pm. 

The Markets will be open longer than ever this year, for a total of 41 days of Christmas fun (42 days for Albert Square), giving shoppers even more opportunities to enjoy the merry delights of the UK's best Christmas Markets. 

There will be traders from all across Europe, with this year's Markets welcoming  traders from even more countries than before, as the street food revolution inspires new stalls across the market.

Manchester's very own Northern Soul, The UK’s first gourmet grilled cheese restaurant, will take their award-winning wares to Albert Square for the first time, along with their own “hard shakes”, with an adult twist.

The Greater Northern Pie Company, one of last year’s most popular stall, will return to sell their handmade pies, with an icon of Albert Square, The Big and Barrel pork sandwich emporium, returning even bigger and better than ever.

Pork head
The Big and Barrel pork sandwich emporium

For the first time ever, an ice rink will feature in the Festive Cathedral Gardens, building on the success of the family-friendly atmosphere.  The Rink at Cathedral Gardens has already been open a week, and tickets can be bought here: www.ticketsource.co.uk/therinkatcathedralgardens.

There will be plenty of opportunities to share your festive experiences with the globe, by using the hashtag #MCRCHRISTMAS, and by tagging your photos with our 6-tonne giant Santa with @MCRsanta

Launched 19 years ago, the Manchester Christmas Markets was the first festive market in the UK growing from only a single site in St Ann’s Square in 1998.

Regularly named one of Europe’s best Christmas Market attractions, nine million people visited last year – along with two million visiting the Albert Square site alone – and is responsible for generating millions of pounds for the city’s economy. 

Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson, said: “It really is the most wonderful time of the year and my Christmas dreams have come true now the markets are open for longer than ever before. I’d have them open from September if I had my way – I love the transformation of the city during the Christmas Market season, when the dark nights are bathed in a warm festive glow.

Pat "Mr Christmas"
Councillor Pat "Mr Christmas" Karney with Anja Manke, the original Christmas Market trader

“There’s something for everyone at the Christmas Markets, a truly family-friendly attraction, and at Festive Cathedral Gardens, we have achieved our hopes of bringing an ice rink to the family zone for the first time.

“More than anything I enjoy seeing generations of people all soaking up the atmosphere, so get your loved ones together and enjoy the thousands of delicious treats the markets have to offer.”

Be part of the biggest Christmas event in the UK and volunteer at the markets at www.manchester.gov.uk/santaslittlehelpers