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    The Top 12 Christmas Activities in Manchester

    12th December 2022
    The Top 12 Christmas Activities in Manchester - Victoria Riverside
    The Top 12 Christmas Activities in Manchester - Victoria Riverside

    Christmas is around the corner, so it’s time to deck the halls, wrap those presents, and get writing those lists to Santa!

    If you’re looking for things to do in Manchester at Christmas, you’re in luck – the place is a veritable winter wonderland!

    These are some of our favourite Christmas activities in Manchester, enough to fill up each of the 12 days with festive fun.


    1. Christmas Markets

    One of the essential Christmas things to do in Manchester is to pay a visit to the now legendary Christmas markets.

    The market traders set up German-style picturesque wooden stalls at various points throughout the city centre and sell all manner of handmade crafts, trinkets, food and drink.

    Browse through endless stalls in Cathedral Gardens, St Ann’s Square, Market Street, King Street, Exchange Square, and New Cathedral Street as you shop around unique ornaments and gifts.

    You simply have to get a steaming mug of mulled wine and a bratwurst.

    This year, the annual Yuletide extravaganza will stay open every day until 22nd December.


    2. Ice Skating

    Ice skating has become another staple of the many Christmas activities in Manchester. There are various options in a couple of locations.

    Winter Funland at Trafford Park is fun and super festive, with twinkling lights, the smell of gingerbread, classic festive tunes, a huge Christmas tree and an ice rink underneath a big tent. 

    Closer to the city centre, Skate Manchester takes over Cathedral Gardens with a massive ice rink and a stunning 23 foot tall Christmas tree.

    So get your skates on, and slide into Christmas with a mug of steaming mulled wine, festive tunes, and some of your best moves!


    3. Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience

    For a truly magical experience, this has to be one of the top Christmas activities in Manchester.

    Instead of just reliving your childhood with a Harry Potter movie marathon, get into the thick of the action with this night-time woodland trail experience filled with magical creatures and wizarding wonders inspired by tales of The Boy Who Lived and the Fantastic Beasts series.

    Meet magical creatures and explore stunning sets brought to life by immersive sounds and atmospheric lighting, all set in the exquisitely beautiful grounds of Cheshire’s Arley Hall & Gardens, just a short journey from Manchester city centre.


    4. Miracle on Cross Street

    At Christmas we all need something to warm the cockles of the heart, and one sure-fire way to do that is to have an evening out at the fabulous winter pop-up Miracle on Cross Street.

    Head to Salt Dog Slims just across the street from the Christmas markets, to get your fill of festive drinks and soak up the cosy atmosphere  – think fairy lights, tinsel, stockings, candy canes and a beautifully adorned tree that would melt the iciest of hearts.

    Take your pick of themed Christmas cocktails, beers, spirits, mulled wine and Irish cream, while nibbling on as many mince pies as you can handle, as well as pigs in blankets.


    5. Christmas Theatre Trip

    Going to see a Christmas show or pantomime is one of the best ways to get into the holiday mood.

    There is a wide selection of performances to enjoy in Manchester this festive season, whether it be a sophisticated ballet show, a musical affair, or a playful panto.

    From 14th December 2022 to 8th January 2023, you can unleash your inner big kid with The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan – a swashbuckling adventure full of special effects, stunning sets, beautiful costumes and barrel-loads of laughter.

    Claus The Musical is another fantastic not-to-be-missed show from the creator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Based on the beloved children’s book, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, by L. Frank Baum, this brand new magical musical makes its debut at The Lowry this December.


    6. Lightopia

    For special Christmas days out in Manchester, you can’t get much better than Lightopia.

    Manchester’s biggest public green space and the biggest municipal park in Europe, Heaton Park, transforms into a truly spectacular lantern and light festival with interactive exhibits, immersive light installations, and a magical illuminated trail. 

    Tickets for this award-winning festive wonderland are now on sale.

    For another light spectacular a little further afield but in equally stunning surroundings, check out Christmas at Dunham Massey.


    7. Bongo’s Bingo with Added Christmas Spice

    Bongo’s Bingo is not your ordinary bingo session. It’s a decidedly more hectic affair, with generous helpings of mayhem and hilarity.

    This bingo bonanza makes it onto our list of Christmas things to do in Manchester as it takes on a Yuletide theme to add even more fun to the mix. 

    Taking over Albert Hall, the Abba-themed The Winner Takes It All game features rave-infused antics, with a Christmas twist, magic, mayhem, and brilliant and bizarre prizes.


    8. Winter Escape to Freight Island

    Amongst the most popular things to do in Manchester at Christmas, this heated outdoor and indoor winter festival at Mayfield Depot is the biggest in the UK.

    This December, Winter Island at the city’s Escape to Freight Island returns to Manchester, and the enormous food hall and outdoor space take on a magical winter wonderland aspect.

    There’s a Christmas tree forest, festive traders at the pop-up market, as well as Christmas workshops. Freight Island’s regular traders serve up delicious seasonal treats and drinks – sample some of the delights on offer at Lucky Foot, Burgerism, Mi & Pho and The Jane Eyre. 

    This event is in demand, and there’s a great atmosphere thanks to DJs and live performances from the likes of Norman Jay MBE and Greg Wilson to DJ Paulette, and Crazy P.

    Book in advance to secure a table.

    Speaking of Mayfield Depot…


    9. Backyard Cinema at Mayfield Depot

    Backyard Cinema is an immersive cinema experience on the roof of Depot Mayfield, which you simply cannot miss.

    This winter it debuts in the city by getting into the Christmas spirit with a host of Christmas classics.

    They’ll be showing yuletide favourites like Elf, Home Alone, Love Actually, The Holiday, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Miracle on 34th Street. As you enter the cinema, you have to go through tunnels of trees constructed within ‘movie-grade’ sets, before passing through magic doors to enter the Enchanted Forest and home of the Lost Theatre.

    So grab one of their super comfy giant bean bags and settle down to all your childhood favourites! 


    10. Bar Hütte

    Christmas is the perfect time of year for shedding your inhibitions and warming up those vocal chords by belting out classic festive tunes!

    Now you have somewhere to get together with friends, grab a cocktail, and unleash your inner Mariah Carey.

    Bar Hütte brings ski village vibes to Great Northern Square, just off Deansgate. 

    Wooden karaoke huts that house up to eight people are available for hire, and each hut has its very own karaoke machine. So forget about singing in the shower, this season it’s time to go public!


    11. Enjoy a Candlelit Concert

    When it comes to Christmassy plans, there’s nothing that puts us in a festive mood more than a candlelit concert. The good news is that there are several on the menu in Manchester this December.

    Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Candlelight at St Ann’s Church is guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit, with talented classical musicians and a truly beautiful setting.

    If you like the sound of that, then you’ll love this Candlelight concert. Imagine a string quartet playing your favourite Christmas film songs, the soundtracks from Home Alone, Love Actually, Elf, The Holiday, and many, many more washing over you as hundreds of candles bathe the iconic Stoller Hall in warm candlelight.

    Truly magical.


    12. Christmas on the Cobbles at Coronation Street

    Last but not least, why not book an extra special guided tour of the famous Coronation Street set? One of the best Christmas days out in Manchester we can think of, this tour takes you through the legendary set, all with a festive twist.

    You’ll be shown some iconic scenes from Christmases past, while being treated to festive treats and Yuletide cheer from carol singers. 

    Follow in the footsteps of your favourite Corrie characters with a stroll past the Roy’s Rolls Café, Kev’s car shop and The Kabin – not to mention getting an extra-special photo in front of Britain’s most iconic pub, The Rovers Return.

    You might even meet one of your favourite characters too – now that’s what we call a great Christmas present!

    These are just a few of the amazing Christmas activities in Manchester to get you in the mood, but there’s lots more to see and do this festive season. Best of all, they are practically on the doorstep of your Victoria Riverside apartment. However you decide to celebrate, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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