Manchester Things to Do Tips by suvanki
Manchester Things to Do: 488 reviews and 994 photos
One of the European Christmas Market Entrances
From mid November until just before Christmas (14th November - 22nd December 2015), Manchester hosts its annual Christmas Market(s).
Each year, it gains in popularity, and is now considered to be amongst the best of the Christmas Markets in Britain and Europe. 2015 is its 17th year., and each year it expands, adding at least one new site annually.In 2014, Market Street and Cathedral Gardens were the 'new kids on the block'
Manchester Christmas Market info
MORE MANCHESTER CHRISTMAS MARKET INFO
Albert Square hosts the Manchester European Christmas Market daily, and is considered to be the main market
St Ann's Square for Manchester German Christmas Market -
In Brazennose Street you'll find the Manchester World Christmas Market,
Manchester Arts and Crafts Market is held in Exchange Street
Manchester Christmas Market is in New Cathedral Street
Triangle has craft stalls.
King Street is where You'll find the French Market
Exchange Square has a micro Brewery and vintage tea lounge as well as crafts
Corporation Street Arts, Crafts, gifts and food stalls
Local public transport stops near the markets. Apparently parking nearby is a nightmare!
My first visit was in 2008-I've returned at least once each year since. This is usually for the Manchester Christmas Markets VT Meet A great day out, ending with a meal and a few drinks, usually in some of Manchester's Heritage pubs.
Come prepared for the cold and rain (or even sleet/snow!!), with warm/waterproof clothing and comfy footwear. Leave your umbrellas at home - too many people around!
The markets, particularly in Albert Square can be busy, especially at the weekends, but you don't usually have to wait too long to be served.
Prams, pushchairs and mobility scooters etc sometimes need negotiating!
Some complain that the food and drinks are too expensive, but for me it's a pre-Christmas treat and the goods on sale are of a high quality.
Entrance and the atmosphere are free! So treat your senses to the smells of mulled wine, hog roasts, grilling bratwursts, gingerbread, perfumed soaps, candles, fir trees, the sound of the various languages and accents of visiters and stall holders, choirs and musicians, the singing reindeer and the sights of the various stalls, twinkling lights, bright baubles etc
The Town Hall is worth a look around (and a place to get warm for a while) Affleks usuallly have a pop-up shop here too. Public toilets are to be found near the Town Hall (none for public use IN the Town Hall)
Christmas Markets originated in Germany and Austria. Records show some dated as far back as the 13th Century. The Vienna December market dates back to 1294
The Christmas markets celebrated the four weeks of Advent. In Germany they are known as Weihnachtmarkt or Christkindmarkts- (The Christ Child market).
The oldest Christmas Market in England just dates back to 1983. Following an official visit to their German twin town, the local dignitaries from Lincoln were so taken with the German Christmas Market they saw there, that they decided to copy the idea. The Lincoln Christmas Market has expanded in size, but is held over just 4 days (December 4-7 2008)
Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow are amongst the other British Cities that hold annual Christmas Markets.
Address: Albert Square /St.Ann's Square and other sites
Directions: Albert Square is in front of the Town Hall.
Other Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0161 234 7356
St Marys RC Church-The Hidden Gem
Wandering down Brazennose Street, I spotted a sign post to 'The Hidden Gem' I'd walked past it, but retraced my steps, and was pleased that I had.
St Marys Roman Catholic church is known as 'The Hidden gem' and the Catholic Mother Church of Greater Manchester, and is considered to be the oldest Post-Reformist Catholic church in Greater Manchester. The Relief Act was passed in 1791, construction of this church began in 1792. The church was opened on November 30th 1794. The adjacent presbytery has remained occupied since 1794
The site of the church was chosen, to serve the residents of one of the poorest quarters of Manchester. It was also an area of much trouble. An area of open meadowland, poor quality housing had been hastily constructed to house the rapidly increasing population.
In 1883, Father Henry Gillow, decided that the church needed a make-over. A new roof and programme of re-decoration went ahead-whether to save money, or 'Trusting in the Lord' Gillow opted for this project work without a Master builder to oversee the work. It wasn't long (2 years) before the roof fell in in a spectacular fashion, damaging most of the walls. The church was locked, and an alternative site was looked for. However, The Manchester Plague and Father Gillow dying of Typhus in 1837, led to the decision to re-build on this site. The architect, Matthew Ellison Hadfield completed the construction.
Father John Newton was appointed as the priest of the new church in 1869.
He employed a Preston sculptor, Mr Lane, to carve the intricately decorated high altar, side altar and shrine to Our Lady, which are seen today.
In 1872, Herbert Vaughan became the second Catholic Bishop of Salford. He also was recognised as being the originator of St Marys nick name of the "Hidden Gem"
"No matter on what side of the church you look,
you behold a hidden gem"
Well, starting at the entrance is one of its gems;
The red brick exterior forms a contrast to the attractive stone entrance way, with its columns and ornate archway with its carvings and a stone bas relief (pics 4 and 5) which shows 2 angels holding a medallion of Agnes Dei. Below this, is the inscription
"Ascendamus in momtem Domini. Et adoremus in loco Sancto eius"
Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord (Isaiah 2:3).
(And) Praise Him in His Holy places (Psalm 150:1).
The entrance porch has a mosaic floor, with 'Ave Maria' depicted in blue tiles.(pic 2)
Inside, there are more Victorian sculptures and carvings
Lanes marble High altar is "surmounted by a reredos of Caen stone, on top of which are the figures of Angels.
The life size figures of the reredos are (from left to right): Our Lady, St. Stephen, St. Patrick, St. Peter, above the tabernacle Our Lord, with his sacred heart, St John the apostle, St. Hilda of Whitby, St. Augustine of Canterbury and St. Joseph".
To the left of the high altar, is a side altar of marble and Caen stone , with a life-size Pieta. Around the top are the figures of angels.
The shrine of 'Our Lady of Manchester' is to the right of the high altar.
This shows scenes of the Nativity and The Presentation at The Temple
To the right, is a stained glass window representing Our Lady and her prayer, the Magnificat.
One of the main attractions of St Marys is its artwork of Professor Norman Adams of The Royal Academy - The Fourteen Stations of the Cross, which were painted in 1994, and presented to St Marys in 1995. Apparently he considers these to be his Greatest work.
Two books sold at the church - St Mary's Adams station of the Crosses and The History of Manchesters Hidden Gem offer more information about this popular church.
Apparently, in these times of fewer church goers, St Marys attracts a large congregation, with a diversity of worshippers. The church is open 7 days a week for services and confession etc.
The founder of Factory Records, Tony Wilson, aka Mr Manchester's funeral was held in this church.
His gravesone can be seen in Southern Cemetery, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Manchester.
Tony Wilson was credited with signing groups such as Joy Division (later New Order) and Happy Mondays, as well as forming the legendary Hacienda night club.
I enjoyed looking around this church, and its atmosphere, so much, that I headed here again on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately it was closed-a notice outside stated that - This Church is closed Sunday afternoons - as the street is so lonely with all the surrounding offices being closed.
Open Mon-Saturday 10.00 -16.00
No photography or videoing inside (but I'm afraid I Couldn't resist one quick shot-pic 3)! I did leave a small donation....
A large sign standing outside the church is a reminder of 'A sign of the times'
" KEEP ST MARY'S SAFE
ALL DAY - ESPECIALLY FOR THE ELDERLY and CHILDREN
ONLY GIVE MONEYTO THE OFFICIAL CHURCH COLLECTIONS
OTHERWISE IN CHURCH OR AROUND CHURCH DOOR
YOU ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO CAN BE A
REAL DANGER TO OTHERS!"
Another sign requests " Please DO NOT bring bicycles into the church" (along with no photography/videoing in the church)
Address: St. Mary's (The Hidden Gem) Mulberry St ,M2 6LN
Directions: From the Town Hall entrance head forward across Albert Square, cross over to Brazennose street, keep to the right side, and keep an eye out for a gap through a modern office building, and you should see the church
Phone: 0161 834 3547
Spinningfields Christmas Market
Leaving the John Ryland Library, I decided to have a quick look around Spinningfields, and spotted another Christmas Market. This appears to be independent from the Manchester Christmas Markets.
Had I wandered further I'd have seen the outdoor Ice Rink, that opens here each Christmas. I did spot a large Helter Skelter, and seating.
Spinningfields is quite 'Up Market', with shops such as Mulberry, All Saints, Flannels, Calvin Klein, Emporo Armani and such like. It was no surprise to find that the Market Stalls were 'A Cut Above' too. I managed to resist the Baked Cheese Cake stall, but gave in to temptation at the stall selling local micro-brewery Ales. I was asked which beer I usually liked - a blonde was my reply, and I was offered a tasting of quite a pleasant brew. I was then offered a stout, which was quite light and refreshing. I was temped to purchase a trio of ales, but realised that I'd be carrying them around for the next few hours. The stall was due to be there the next day, so I was hoping to call before catching my train. Hmmm- Well, If I'm back in Manchester again before Christmas I will return here.
This market will be open Friday- Sunday from 11.00 - 20.00 thro' November until 22nd December. Live music too!
The Ice Rink is open until 6th January 2014
Other stalls will include artisan food products and high quality crafts etc. See website for more details.
I guess this is where you may spot a local celebrity or two!
Address: Spinningfields, Manchester
Directions: City Centre, off Deansgate adjacent to John Ryland Library
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW TO GET HERE
Midland Hotel Meeting Point
VTer kaspian had spotted this prior to his visit for the 2012 Manchester Christmas Markets Meet, and wondered if others would be interested....
Well I certainly was - A 2 hour guided walk by one of 'New Manchester Walks' blue badge or green badge guides, with the chance to see a WW2 underground air raid shelter and see a different part of Manchester.
You need to book tickets prior to the event through Quaytickets.com
Pick your date and time slot, then book your ticket
It cost £9 (adult) November 2012. Not suitable for children under 9 years old.
I received my tickets through the post within a few days.
The meet up point is on the steps of the Midland Hotel. If you're there early, sneek a peep inside this historic hotel, and spot the plaque of Messers Rolls and Royce who met here to form their company Rolls Royce Limited.
So, the six of us, wearing stout footwear and armed with torches (flashlights) joined the crowd of probably around 20.
Our guide Sue was full of useful information and anecdotes about the history of Manchester, the Industrialisation of Manchester and the need for a canal transportation system.
Although the 'Main Event' was the underground visit, we saw a few points of interest on the way there, including a secret atomic bunker, the Central Railway Station, more about the Midland Hotel and its planned purpose if the Nazis had invaded. The area around the Bridgewater hall, and the grandiose plans to transport concert goers to the venue - Also the Casino and night club favoured by the paparazzi for snapping local and visiting celebrities - and if they're doing what they shouldn't with who they shouldn't - Wayne Rooney? Kerrching!!
Points on the ground, such as manhole covers were noted as we were walking above the area that we would soon be walking underground.
To be honest, I couldn't always 'keep up' with where our guide was describing what was below (or later above)
We stepped inside the 21st century building, and had a short wait for the security guard to let us through to the stone steps that led down into the long-disused tunnel of the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, that was to became the largest WW2 air raid shelter in Manchester.
Well, it was well worth visiting, though I can't imagine how the people coped in this dark and crowded place. Tens of thousands of Mancunians spent nights here,
During the day, they were banished outside, while the shelter was 'sanitised' to reduce risk of infectious diseases.
Some relics from this time can still be seen, such as the telephone exchange with telephone numbers scribbled on the wall. Also faded 'Rules of Conduct' notices - alcohol was prohibited, due to risk of drunken fights and other misdemeanour's!
We also saw evidence of UrbExers having discovered the tunnels - graffiti and tags were painted on some of the walls.
You certainly needed a torch for part of this walk, along with sturdy waterproof footwear.
UPDATE November 2013 - These tours aren't running at the moment, due to essential building work being carried out.
Check %L[ http://www.newmanchesterwalks.com/walks-tours/underground-other-unusual-things/underground-manchester/] for updates%L*
Address: Meet up at Midland Hotel
Directions: See the website www.newmanchesterwalks.com
Other Contact: email@example.com
Phone: 07769 298068/07884001315
St Ann's Church and Square
St Ann's Square is one of Manchester's main shopping areas, offering some high class shopping in one the city's oldest and most distinguished squares. Specialist markets (including The Annual Manchester German Christmas Market), festivals and other events are often held in the square.
The square is named after St Ann's Church, which stands at its Southern end.
St Ann's became a pedestrianised zone in 1983, and vehicles are only allowed in during certain limited periods for delivery, cleaning and servicing.
It is also a conservation area, lined with many buildings of architectural merit, new stores have to fit in with the surroundings.
( McDonald’s fast food restaurant had to tone down its golden arches before it was allowed to open.)
Much of the southern side of the square is dominated by the Royal Exchange building, the historic cotton exchange, which now houses the celebrated Royal Exchange Theatre.
This was part of the area re-built after the 1996 IRA bomb.
(The Royal Exchange Shopping Centre was badly damaged)
In former days, this square boasted famous names like the Kardomah Cafe, Austin Reed, Moss Brothers and Sherratt & Hughes Bookshop (For many years, they published all of the local Joint Matriculation Board's 'O' and 'A' Level GCE examination papers)
St Ann's Arcade still houses some expensive and traditional high class shops.
Today, shops in the Square include Habitat, FCUK, and the Disney Store. The Easy Internet Café is a popular place for visitors wanting to check their email.
In 2009, Molton Browns had opened their new shop the weekend that we visited, so we were invited to have a glass of champagne in there.- We didn't refuse!
This shop has a blue plaque on its wall. This commemorates Robert Owen (1771 - 1858). Owen was a Welsh entrepeneur and social reformer. His ideas formed the basis of the Co-Operative movement. He lived in Manchester for 12 years. His first business in Manchester was on this site around 1786.
See my next tip for info about another Blue Plaque to be found in this square.
Address: St Ann's Square Manchester
Directions: St Ann's Square is between King Street, Deansgate and Exchange Square
Town Hall and Albert Square
After meeting up at Starbucks, we set off across the road to Albert Square and the European Christmas Market. This is also a good chance to see inside the Grade 1 listed Town Hall (The Town Hall extension is Grade 2 listed) and to buy Charity Christmas cards etc.Some years Afflecks have a 'pop up' shop.
- it's pretty impressive from the outside, but jaw-dropping inside! Unfortunately much of the interior isn't open to the General Public.
The Town Hall is the ceremonial Head Quarters of Manchester City Council, and houses many local government offices, so it is a working building
Guided tours are available by prior arrangement, through the Manchester Information Centre (which was adjacent to the Town Hall, but is now re-located in Piccadilly Gardens).
In 1853 Manchester gained City status, and it wanted to prove its worth. A competition was launched to find architects and designers who would come up with a fitting building.
Alfred Waterhouse was one of the leading architects of the day, and he was granted the chance to provide a substantial and monumental building.
The Town Hall was completed in 1887, at a cost of 1 million pounds! At its highest point it reaches 286 feet.
In areas the Town Hall resembles a Gothic cathedral, with its vaulted arched corridors, and pointed windows.
Look for the mosaic flooring, and the stained glass windows, as well as the splendid ceilings.
Some historical events of Manchester are depicted in some pretty impressive murals by Ford Madox Brown, which are found in a room, that isn't usually open to visitors during the Christmas Markets etc.
The 280ft Bell Tower, at one time was the highest structure in the City. There is a carillon of 23 bells - the clock bell is nicknamed Great Abel, and is inscribed with the quote "Ring out the False, Ring in the True" by Tennison. The Clock face has an inscription too- "Teach us to number our Days" which comes from Psalm 90:12.
The Entrance Hall (Albert Square) hosts a couple of impressive lifesize statues- These are James Prescott Joule (who the joule unit of energy is named after) and John Dalton, who was noted for his work in atomic theory and also research into Colour blindness.
I recently found out that this piece is by Francis Leggatt Chantrey, who was born, and is buried in Norton, Sheffield. Francis Leggatt Chantrey's grave and info
Take a minute or two to look at the ceiling of the entrance Hall, before entering ascending a few more steps ( Ramped entrance on Lloyd Street - to the Right side of the Town Hall if facing from Albert Square. Wheel chair available at reception).
I'd like to return here for a Guided tour one day, which takes you into some of the areas not open to the public generally.
There is a cafe inside the Town Hall, where last time I checked, the prices were very reasonable. There are no Public Toilets in The Town Hall. Anyone visiting the Christmas Markets are directed to the facillities to the right of the Town Hall
Address: Albert Square, Manchester, M60 2LA
Directions: Tram -St Peters Square Station
MAP and Transport info
Other Contact: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/
Phone: 0161 234 5000
Manchester Christmas Markets mugs (and bratwurst)
At the Manchester European Christmas Market were stalls selling mulled wine, served in attractive pottery mugs. You paid for the drink (mine was £3) plus £2 deposit for the mug. When I'd finished, I could either return the mug to reclaim my £2 deposit, or keep it as a souvenir. I kept mine!
Beer was served in glasses, which also had the Christmas Markets inscription - again £2 deposit to reclaim or keep as a souvenir.
This is part of Manchester City Councils initiative, to keep waste to a minimum, which I thought was a good idea. I'm not sure if the stallholders buy the mugs, and keep any profit, or if the City Council provide them, and they recoup the cash.
Mugs are available in green or burgundy colours.
UPDATE -2012 Still £2 deposit!, plus there were larger mugs on some stalls for £4. New designs for the past few years!. (pic 5)
Address: Albert Square
Directions: Albert Square is in front of the Town Hall
Provencale Food stall - French Market
A new addition to the Manchester Christmas Markets in 2010, was the French Market on King Street
Open 15th November - 22nd December 2013 10.00 - 19.30 (20.00 in December)
MAP & DIRECTIONS
As it was bitterly cold, the food stalls in the French Market were a welcome sight (and smell) One time that I didn't mind queueing, as it was quite warm standing near the pans of food!
Unsurprisingly, the French Market had some quite chic stalls, including a bar with chandeliers! Foods and gifts from the various regions of the country, such as lavender products, Provençal herbs, brightly coloured table linen etc.
King Street has some quite attractive buildings of architectural interest - Once an important Banking and Finance street, it is now home to some of the most upmarket shops in Manchester - (Along with its neighbour Bank Street) Designer shops such as Vivienne Westwood and Armani attract the 'Rich and Famous' of Manchester. Liam Gallagher of Oasis fame opened a boutique (Pretty Green) here last December, which was one of many shops looted and vandalised during the mindless riots of August 2011.
Money from the cotton industry led to the Building of The Bank of England in 1826 at 82 King Street - a memorial to the prosperity of the time. It was designed by Christopher Cockerell, who was recognised as the leading architect of the time. It is a Grade 1 listed building. Along King Street are many of the buildings are Grade 2 listed.
Old banks include Lloyds TSB (53) Northern Rock Building Society (74) Prudential Assurance (76-80) Manchester and Salford Savings Bank (84-86) Midland Bank (100)
Address: King Street Manchester
Directions: See link above for map
Phone: +44 (0)871 222 8223
Semi Precious jewellery and trinkets
New Cathedral Street Christmas Market - Open 15th November - 22nd December 2013 - 10.00 -19.30 ( 20.00hrs in December)
Here the stalls sold ethnic crafts/ Fair traded goods, semi precious stones and jewellery, Natural beauty products etc. You could even get your eyebrows shaped - by threading for around £8!
There was a Dutch Pancake House here too. I was getting quite hungry by now, even though we would be eating at The Wellington soon. I decided to have a waffle, freshly made and served with Nutella choc spread and cream - Yes, it was a bit too sweet for me.
Next to this Market is Exchange Square Christmas Market -(Same opening dates and times as NCS Market). Here the emphasis is on Olde Worlde English fare - Hog Roasts, Mulled Wine, Champagne and English Ales.
Outside The Triangle is a traditional Market, with stalls that are set up daily by different traders. Thursday- Sunday 10.00 - 19.00 hrs.
These sell Christmas goods, crafts, and art work.
Nearest WC- Triangle Shopping Centre also Arndale Shopping Centre (Both have Wheelchair access)
ATM's/ Banks in Arndale Centre/ Market Street.
Map and directions
Address: New Cathedral Street Manchester M1 1AD
Directions: See link above
Phone: +44 (0)871 222 8223
German Christmas Market sign
After visiting the European Christmas Market, and Brazennose Street, our next venue is a short walk away to the Manchester German Christmas Market in St Ann's Square. This market is open 10.00 - 20.00 hrs (November 15th - December 22nd 2013).
Most of the stalls are dedicated to selling crafts and produce of Germany.
The German market has been here in Manchester since 1999, but was established in Frankfurt in 1393!
One stall that we stopped at sold Polish mead. The stall holder was offering tastings of the honey flavoured mead. There were also bottles of German wines and lagers as well as jars of honey, beeswax and beeswax candles and soaps etc.
A popular stall was one selling ham sandwiches that were being cooked on a doner kebab style rotisserie. There was a long queue, and I was still full from the bratwurst I'd eaten earlier. (I made a note of it for next year though!)
2009- The queue was even longer this year! While queueing a man from BBC Radio Manchester was approaching people to record a Christmas Message. I decided to leave the queue - and recorded a message for VTers - It will be broadcast Sunday 13th July 09 between 15.00-16.00 95.1 FM/DAB
The Queue had grown again, so I headed back to St Annes Church.
Opposite the Church at the edge of the Market is a Nativity Scene containing carved figurines in a wood and glass case - It was made in 1983 by Apprentices from Manchester Direct Works Department
St Ann's Square had a nice atmosphere, with plenty going on besides the Christmas Market. One of the hi - lights in 2008, was coming across a choir singing in the square, it turned out that there were at least 3 choirs singing, they were all performing at a hall in Oxford Road? Street? later that afternoon.
There is a Gluhwein/ Beer Garden here in St Annes Square.
At this point, some of us head into St Annes church for a cup of tea and home made cakes!
Nearest Public WC - Parsonage Gardens (Off Deansgate) - There are toilets in The Royal Exchange Theatre
NCP - Car Park- King Street West (Off Deansgate) or off New Cathedral Street
Address: St.Ann's Square
Directions: For MAP
Other Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 061 234 7356
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