With the festive season now at our doorsteps, it’s time to draw for the diary and start planning ahead for everything the next month has to offer. With Manchester being the creative melting pot that it is, it’s no surprise that the city is jam-packed full of events.If you want to get planning and just don’t know where to start, look no further. Regardless of whether you have or haven’t heard of these events, this bucket list covers some of the unique and must-see things that Manchester has to offer this winter.
1. Be Part of Something New at the Winter Gathering in the London Road Fire Station.
After it was announced that the iconic Edwardian London Road Fire Station was to be bought by Allied London and reopened it opened up a world of creative possibilities. Now fully functioning, the building is somewhat of a creative & social mingling spot. The Fire Station recently launched its ‘Winter Gathering’, a popup christmas event which boasts live music with headliners on the weekends, an ice rink, a boutique festive market and a vast array of some of the best food and drink the country has to offer. And to make things better, London Road Fire Station have now scrapped all £5 entry charges so there is absolutely no excuse not to go!
The Winter Gathering will be running until the 23rd of December so make sure you get yourself to see some of the best live music this city has to offer.
2. Enjoy a Classy yet Quirky Christmas Drink at The Curious Teepees, Spinningfields.
If you fancy a feel of that German christmas cosiness without the crowds of the markets, then this is for you. Oast House of Spinningfields is a rustic and vintage pub which is renowned for brewing its own ales and beers. Last year the Oast House hosted a large christmas Teepee bar which was a huge success. It was music to our ears when we heard that they would be returning this year with not one, but two Teepee tents.
The tents are fit with open fires, stunning christmas lighting, live music and an array of German beers, not to mention the fantastic festive food on offer. The Teepee’s are lavishly decorated with wood, fur and candlelight, helping to create the perfectly snug Christmas atmosphere. So whether you fancy a unique christmas meal or just a cosy festive drink, the Curious Teepees are a must see this winter!
You can find the Curious Teepees outside the Oast House in the Avenue Courtyard, Spinningfields.
3. Lose yourself at this years Lightwaves Festival in Salford Quays.
Now although this is far from your typical festive event, we believe it still deserves a firm place in our bucket list for this winter. For the second year running, Lightwaves festival will be taking place across Salford Quays, Media City and even in the river Irwell itself. Lightwaves Festival is an interactive art festival which will literally be lighting up the quays this winter. With art, workshops and large-scale pieces from artists all over the world, Lightwaves is just another example of Manchester’s ever-growing pulling power when it comes to creativity. All the installations vary and really bring something unique to the city this winter. A few examples of what to expect include Voyage, an installation which consists of 148 LED lit, Origami boats floating in one of the Quays docks. Each light can be controlled by visitors phones, creating a real-time rippling effect. Another example being Fireflies, an interactive installation which is made up of hundreds of floating glowing spheres. The spheres react with their environment as they float around and interact with the people who come to visit them.
Like most Art exhibitions, Lightwaves is completely free and will be running from the 9th to the 18th of December across MediaCity and Salford Quays. This is one you won’t want to miss!
4. Live the Legend and Embrace the German Christmas Markets
A little obvious, we know, but what would Christmas in Manchester be without its truly iconic German markets. Not only are the markets one of the biggest in the UK, they are also one of the most decorated, and we are not just talking about Christmas decorations! The Manchester German Markets win awards year in, year out, and it’s easy to see why. With over 350 individual boutique stalls spanning over 10 different market sites it’s no wonder that these markets draw in crowds from all over the country. With stalls selling everything from plush rugs to authentic german chocolate, Belgian beer to French cheese, this is the place to be. Whether you fancy washing down one of the Market’s famous bratwurst sausages with a spine-tinglingly warm mug of mulled wine or simply taking an evening stroll through the mesmerising network of stalls and bars, the German market is Manchester’s number one christmas attraction and will always have a concrete place on our bucket list.
The Markets are open now right until the 21st of December, with hours running from 10am-9pm (Albert Square), all other market sites run until 8pm. It simply cannot be missed.
5. Get Out and See One of the Many Shows Manchester has to Offer.
As everyone knows, Christmas time is pantomime time and going to see a show in the festive period is always a must. However, the theatre is not for everyone but living in the city that we do, we are spoilt for choice.Every year Manchester’s entertainment schedule gets jam-packed with exciting live music, comedy, talks and much more. This year we se the return of the global superstars, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, as they play in front of thousands at the Manchester Arena on the 14th & 15th of December. There is always something unique on offer in Manchester too. Any fans of the Netflix series ‘Narcos’ will want to head on down to the Manchester Academy on the 16th of December for Capturing Pablo, as we see the real DEA agents, Murphy and Pena, responsible for the crackdown of Pablo Escobar, open up about their experiences and roles whilst working in Colombia.
On a slightly lighter and more family-based note, we see a fleet of musicals, plays and comedies arriving in the city this winter. Billy Elliot, with music by Elton John returns to the famous Palace theatre for an 8 week stint from the 29th of November until the 28th of January. Across the other side of town in Salford quays we see the Lowry theatre host an array of Christmas shows. Ranging from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 6th Dec – 15th Jan, to Elf the musical, 24th Nov – 7th of Jan. There’s even something for the older audiences too when the Lowry hosts Faulty Towers:The Christmas Dining Experience from the 4th-7th of December.
There’s no denying, Manchester has it all when it comes to shows and it is for this very reason why this goes onto our bucket list, there is something out there for everyone. So, whatever your fancy, have one night off sitting by the fire and go and see what the city has to offer!
6. Visit the Weird and Wonderful Affleck’s Pop-Up Market in the Town Hall.
This is a must-see which can sometimes easily slip away from people without notice. It is a lesser known fact that during the hustle and bustle of the markets, the town hall too, has its own pop-up stalls inside. The market is run and put on by Affleck’s Palace of the northern quarter, henceforth the unique nature of everything they have to offer. The purpose of the market is to give people who wouldn’t usually visit Afflecks, a taste of what they have to offer. From quirky outfits to everything bizarre, the Afflecks pop-up market has you covered. So next time you are at the markets, pop your head into the town hall and have a nosy around one of the most uniquely Mancunian markets you will find.
The Affleck’s Palace pop-up market is open from 11am-8pm everyday and is in the foyer of the town hall. It is running until the 22nd of December.
7. Indulge in some Christmas Cinema at Manchester’s HOME
Sometimes all we want for Christmas is to just sit back and watch a film, however, we can’t help but feel we are being a little unsociable. Well, why not mix the two? Head on down to HOME this winter where you can enjoy a selection of films, both festive and normal, whilst having a drink. After the films, the crowds can then spill into the bars on various floors of the cinema and the cheer continues. HOME’s very own season of festive films, A Very 80s Christmas, will be running from the 9th until the 19th of December. They will also be showing repeats of the ultimate christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, all the way throughout December!
Home is now the new centre for entertainment and arts after it moved from what used to be The Cornerhouse. Home is situated at 2 Tony Wilson Place and it’s bars stay open until midnight on weekends.
And Finally, something a little different for anyone old enough to go clubbing…
8. Dance your Christmas Stockings off at the Elf Christmas House Party
That’s right, you’re not seeing things, a huge party is coming to Manchester’s famous Albert Hall and it all revolves around the Will Ferrell Christmas favourite, Elf! The event starts at 7 and will kick off with a screening of the film accompanied by a dance and sing along during. The event will host its own miniature christmas beer festival and food hall, serving festive drinks and treats all night long. Not to forget that there will also be a performing Elf circus and live band that will be blasting out christmas hits non-stop.
Servers dressed as Elves will be making sure that no-one is without a mince pie, mulled wine or christmas cocktail. And what better way to pay homage to the legend that is Elf by having a spaghetti eating contest?
The Elf Christmas House Party takes place on Saturday the 17th of December and is £12 for balcony seats, £15 for stalls. The event is 18+ and the Albert Hall can be found at 27 Peter Street.