Accessibility is at the heart of this year's Christmas Markets and festive fun in Manchester, with lots of measures put in place to make sure that everyone can enjoy what's on offer.
With fully accessible toilets and changing facilities for both adults and babies, along with priority seating, and dedicated spaces to rest and take a breather from all the action, as well as inclusive skating sessions for young people with additional needs, it's hoped everyone can come into the city centre - whatever their needs - and enjoy the magic of the season and getting in the Christmas spirit.
Extra measures have been put in place this year to ensure there are fully accessible toilets, along with changing facilities, throughout the city centre across the route of the markets. It's hoped that people with disabilities – along with their families and carers – will be able to enjoy the festive attractions for longer, knowing they have comfortable, clean and well-appointed facilities at their disposal, should they need them.
Facilities in place at Winter Gardens include a fully accessible toilet and changing facility, and a shower with a track hoist and tail lift. People will need to bring their own fitted sling. The toilet can be accessed through a radar key.
The public toilets on Mount Street also offer a fully accessible toilet and changing facilities, including an adult-weighted change bed, a shower and toilet, and an adult-weighted track hoist. There is also a fully accessible toilet in the Arndale. This will mean those people with disabilities – along with their families and carers – will be able to enjoy the festive attractions for longer, knowing they have a comfortable, clean and well-appointed facility, should they need it.
The Council have also joined Cityco’s City Centre Loo Scheme to ensure that there are disabled toilets along the markets route. A part of the scheme Manchester City Council have teamed up with places in the city centre to ensure that facilities are available throughout the city centre, for those who need it.
Disabled toilets and baby changing facilities can also be found in McDonald’s in St Ann’s Square, Royal Exchange Theatre, Marks and Spencer, National Football Museum, Arndale Shopping Centre at the Market Street entrance, Cathedral Gardens - next to the Windmill and in Central Library and toilets will next to the Globe Bar.
In tandem with this, priority seating, for those who need it, can be found in Winter Gardens. The seats can be found near the stage in front of Bar Humbug. The area is sign-posted with accessibility symbols and are clearly marked on the official Christmas Markets' map. The area is centrally located in Winter Gardens, so priority seating users are not left out of the Christmas action.
All Market stalls are 100% accessible, most are on street level and those that aren’t have accessibility ramps.
Over the years we have improved the market experience for disabled visitors by introducing stalls designed with more space and reserved areas with priority seats for elderly or disabled people.
This year, these spaces are:
Piccadilly Winter Gardens
Winter Tipi (heated, undercover space)
Pig and Barrel (heated, undercover space)
New Cathedral Street
Witch House (heated, undercover space)
St Anns Square bar
Tables under cover outside the undercover bar
French Bar (outside)
Grumpy Moose (outside)
Habas (outside, not covered)
The ice rink at Cathedral Gardens (Skate MCR) is fully accessible to wheelchair users every day on and off the rink. Staff have also been trained to work with customers with additional needs for all sessions.
Building on the success of last years extended accessibility offer, the event organisers have once again partnered MCR Parent Champion who support parents and careers of children and young people with additional needs to offer three free inclusive skating sessions (8th, 16th and 24th November 6-7pm).
Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s Christmas Spokesperson said:
"Manchester's Christmas magic is for everyone, which is why making sure all our festive fun is accessible is so important to us.
We want to make sure no-one is excluded from any of this and that everyone can enjoy what's on offer right across the city and not just in one location.
"That's why we've redoubled our efforts this year to ensure that anyone who has additional needs can come into the city centre and, just like everyone else, can enjoy what's on offer knowing their needs will be catered for.
"We all know Manchester does Christmas best and we want everyone who visits us at this special time of year to enjoy themselves and to have the best time ever. Come and see us!"
For more detailed information, please visit: https://www.manchester.gov.uk/christmas