Mulled Wine and Magic in Manchester’s Christmas Markets

Peeling my gloves from my icy hands and curling my fingers around this year’s edition of the Christmas market mug, I felt the exciting, yet comforting buzz of another December hit me.

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First glimpse of a rather comedy looking Santa near the town hall.

The warmth of the festive season seeped right under my skin with that first sip of mulled wine, rousing the kid who still lives inside me from her eleven month slumber. The season of goodwill has come round again, and I intend to enjoy every waking minute of it in a gluhwein glow.

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A sip of Christmas from this year’s souvenir mug.

The markets make a clear statement that Manchester just loves Christmas, and their annual appearance means a wonderful opportunity to soak up a bit of that festive spirit, or to buy quirky gifts which are just a little bit more unique.

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Fabulously festive hand made tree decorations.

We go to the Manchester Christmas Markets every year. It would be wrong not to. Sometimes it can be a battleground of eager crowds, but a couple of Christmas drinks generally mean you just sway along with the odd shove. It’s worth it.

A view over the top of the market stalls. They get more impressive every year.

What started with a visit from a small group of German traders in 1998, has snowballed into a vast array of festive feasting and shopping opportunities. Now you can find numerous markets, aside from the main European extravaganza in Albert Square, all over the city centre. They bring a taste of Christmas to England’s North West from all around Europe and beyond.

Bits and bobs and baubles, all so much prettier than in the High Street shops

We ambled our way around the various market locations, appetites growing with every step, so it’s just as well there’s no shortage of food options. It was difficult to choose between bratwurst, paella or goulash. Not to mention some more traditionally British options, like good old Lancashire hotpot.

And then there was the sweet stuff. Crepes, waffles, chocolates and strudel. Winter foodie heaven. All washed down with whichever version of mulled wine you fancied.

Me? Well, I had a mug of the traditional German gluhwein to start (complete with a healthy slug of rum – purely to fend of the cold, you understand), then I came over all Parisian as we strolled cheeks-a-glow back across town, taking in a taste of vin chaud after sauntering through the French market.

A little bit of Paris in King Street

And if hot, spicy red wine isn’t your thing, there was beer galore and almost every take on coffee and hot chocolate you could think of. Something for every festive fancy.

The strudel I only wish I had room for, after my mammoth serving of paella

The Manchester Christmas Markets have become something of a local institution and a magnet for visitors to the city. So if you’re planning a stint in the UK around the Christmas holidays, or you can hop on a train or jump in your car to get here, give it a try.

You might miss this year, but if 2012 is anything to go by, next year already promises to pack a full-on, festive punch.

For more detailed information on the markets, facts and details on how to get to Manchester click here for the Visit Manchester website. Are you planning on any Christmas market action? And have you been to any of the other markets in the UK? Let me know in the comments!

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