Manchester’s Christmas Markets - all you need to know for the 2023 festive season

Winter is coming... and so are the Christmas Markets

By Ben Arnold | 24 October 2023

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If you’ve wandered past Piccadilly Gardens of late, you’ll have spotted that work is most definitely under way for this year’s Christmas Markets.

And this year promises to be an historic one too – being the 25th year since the first Manchester Christmas Markets emerged in 1998.

Back then it was just a handful of stalls on St Ann’s Square and Exchange Street. Now, it’s more than 225 stalls, sprawling across nine sites in the city.

Christmas Markets 2023

The 2023 season will be kicking off on November 10, before wrapping up for another year on December 21. The Christmas parade will be back on December 3, as will Festive Sundays, with family entertainment pop-ups happening on November 26, December 10, and December 17.

The Christmas lights trail returns too, this year with giant walk-through baubles, while Santa will be perched, as ever, on top of the Central Library.

So let’s break down this year’s markets…

Winter Gardens

Piccadilly Gardens being transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’, with its ski chalet style stalls and bars welcoming revellers from all over the region. It’ll be decked out with festoon lights, log fires, the scandi-style tipi and the focal point, the four-metre high Manchester Christmas Windmill. Food-wise, expect churros, Korean corn dogs and gyros, along with winter cocktails.

St Ann’s Square and Exchange Street

The first ever site for the Manchester Christmas Markets, stalls this year will include everything from Afflecks’ iconic Manchester Shop to alien sculptures and cheese (not both together). Stopping for a snack, you can expect paella, bratwurst, salt & pepper chicken and NQ faves Yard & Coop.

Christmas Markets 2023

Market Street

Snaking the length of Market Street will be the usual wide range of stalls, where you can shop for fine tweed, festive decorations, jewellery and cheese gift boxes, as well as warm coconut macaroons fresh from the oven.

King Street

Down King Street, you’ll find local tapas spot El Gato Negro serving up Catalan favourites, alongside Italian deli Ballaro, who will be serving up fresh cannelloni and arancini to the foodies. Salford Rum will also be on hand to warm the cockles.

New Cathedral Street

Be on the lookout for ceramics, handmade candles and local spirits set up by the bougie stores on New Cathedral Street. You’ll be able to stop for a warm (possibly boozy) drink at the Witch House, or fill up on burritos from Mango Rays or even a melted parmo from the fabulous Parmogeddon.

Christmas Markets 2023
PIC shows

Exchange Square

The iconic location for the annual Porky Pig’s Yorkshire Pudding wraps, of course, but also much more than that. There will be birria bowls, curries, mini pancakes and freshly made fudge to get stuck into too. Throw in a mulled wine at The Mill Exchange, and then get shopping for clothing, soaps, boutique babywear, local crafts, and handmade gifts.

The Corn Exchange

You can expect some unique gift shopping in the spot between the Corn Exchange and Shambles Square, including handmade pies, Nepalese woollen jumpers, handmade jewellery, Christmas deccos made from recycled wood, photo frames and artisan chocolates.

Cathedral Gardens

As ever, Cathedral Gardens will be hosting the covered ice rink, open every day of the markets and with free live entertainment happening every Thursday to Sunday right up to New Year’s Eve, with crepes, hot chocolate and top drawer hot dogs.

Opening Times

Manchester’s Christmas markets open on Friday 10 November and close on Thursday 21 December.  
They are open daily at the following times:

All craft stalls 10 am – 8 pm
All bars and food stalls 11 am – 9 pm

Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson, said: “Christmas is looking even better than ever in Manchester this year, with the opening of our world-famous Christmas markets now only three weeks away and a stocking rammed full of things for all the family to see and enjoy over the festive season, including our magical Manchester Christmas Parade.

“And what a special year for our world-beating markets!  Hard to believe it was exactly 25 Christmases ago that Manchester’s first-ever Christmas market took place.

“A quarter of a century later and the markets bring visitors from quite literally all over the world to fill upon the fantastic festive treats on offer. 

“Everyone knows Manchester is the city that Santa loves best and we just can’t wait to share all the Christmas fun and festivities with everyone.”