Less than a week left to get your fill of this year’s magical Christmas Markets.
The world-famous festive attraction comes to an end on Wednesday 20 December, but for those who just can’t get enough of the whiff of Gluhwein and a belly full of Bratwurst, the Christmas Market hub on Albert Square will remain open until 6pm on Thursday 21 December.
This year’s market season has been one of the busiest on record with traders reporting a bumper years as locals and visitors flock to the annual attraction.
The barometer of busyness – the speed of how quickly the much-loved collectible festive mugs sell – show how popular the markets have been as nearly 80,000 mugs were sold in the first two weeks alone, compared to 60,000 in the same period in 2016.
In past years more than nine million people have visited the Christmas Markets and this year looks on track to break all records.
This year’s markets have also used its popularity to give a helping hand to homeless people in Manchester, and collections for the Big Change homeless fund were set up for the first time.
The Big Change campaign is a central fund for more than 20 charities, with support from Manchester City Council and CityCo, which has helped hundreds of people move their lives forwards and begin to build an independent life away from the streets.
More than £3,000 has already been donated by generous visitors to the markets with the final weekend still to go. The fund will help hundreds of people build an independent life away from the streets.
Inspired by the hugely popular Christmas animation (which is still available to watch), Christmas cards in packs of six for £6.00 featuring the now iconic Manchester bee and our hapless Manchester Santa are on sale at Central Library and Manchester Art Gallery, and 25% of all profit will also go to the Big Change Fund. In two weeks, more than 200 packs were snapped up.
And the message hasn’t been lost with our European counterparts, as Manchester was officially named the best market in the UK – and 13th best across the continent – beating off stiff competition from iconic festive destinations, such as Dresden and Cologne in a public vote through influential travel website European Best Destinations.
Futuristic tech gave the Christmas Markets a digital upgrade this year as an augmented reality app has been available to download for the first time. The app, which has been loaded 5,500 times is still available from your app store (search for buzzin, by Sparta Digital) and allows users to explore the markets in a new, interactive way.
By scanning the much-loved Christmas Market mugs a special festive character appears, or by using the phone’s camera to look at the markets, useful pointers appear on the screen from toilets and cash machines, to various market stalls or the ice rink.
The Rink at Cathedral Gardens will remain open until Sunday 7 January. Full listings in notes to editors.
Cllr Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson, said: “We all know that I would keep the Christmas Markets open until Easter, given the opportunity, so it’s always with a bit of sadness that we say farewell to our European traders.
“It has been remarkable festive season for Manchester and the amount of visitors we have seen in the city has been a wonderful recognition of the quality of our Christmas attractions – worthy of our capital of Christmas crown.
“Next year’s Christmas Markets will come round in a blink of an eye, and I’m already looking forward to it.”
Cllr Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council’s executive member for schools, culture and leisure, said: “Thank you to everyone who has visited Manchester this Christmas season, it has been a joy to see the families and friends enjoying the markets and taking a spin on the rink. This time of year is vital for the city’s economy and to see the city centre so animated is fantastic.”
Manchester Christmas Markets
Thursday 10 November – Tuesday 20 December.
European Christmas Market, Albert Square (Open until Wednesday, 21 December)
10.00am – 9.00pm daily.
ALL OTHER MARKET SITES
(Brazennose Street; St Ann’s Square; King Street; Exchange Street; Exchange Square; New Cathedral Street; the Corn Exchange; Market Street; and Cathedral Gardens)
In November 10.00am – 7.30pm
In December 10.00am – 8.00pm
ALL BAR AND FOOD AREAS OPEN UNTIL 9.00pm
Prices for rides at Cathedral Gardens
Ferris wheel £3
Swing Chairs £3
Helter Skelter £3
Infant rides (Mini Miami Ride (mini train)) £2
The Rink at Cathedral Gardens
4 November 2017 – 7 January 2018 Daily 11 am – 9 pm (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day)
Or call 0333 666 33 66
*A booking fee applies of £0.45 + 6% per ticket
Adult Ticket £10.00 + booking fee
Children’s ticket (age 4 to 16) £8.00 + booking fee
Proof of age may be required. Anyone under 12 must be accompanied on the rink by someone over 18.
Family Ticket £30.00 + booking fee
Admits 4. A family ticket admits 2 adults and 2 children, or 1 adult and 3 children