Manchester Christmas Markets dates and opening times: what’s on, when & where stalls are plus ice rink info

The countdown to what is always one of the highlights of the year in the city centre is over and thousands of visitors are expected to attend the markets throughout the 2022 festive season.

The Manchester Christmas Markets for 2022 are officially open and revellers can now flock to the popular festive attraction in Manchester city centre.

Thousands of people head into the city during the festive season for the continental-style markets, and organisers are hoping for the same again following the opening of this year’s markets on 10 November. The 2022 markets are spread across nine sites in the middle of Manchester for an event which should bring some much-needed cheer to the city’s streets in the run-up to Christmas. As well as the markets there are also plenty of lights and the return of the popular ice rink to get everyone in the festive mood.

Here’s what you need to know about when and where the markets are taking place this year, and what else is happening to help Manchester celebrate the run-up to Christmas in style.

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    When and where are the Manchester Christmas Markets taking place?

    The 2022 markets, which are taking place 24 years on from the first German style festive market in the city centre, have around 220 stalls spread over the nine sites. The markets opened on Thursday 10 November and close on Thursday 22 December. Stalls open at 10am-8pm for retail, and 10am-9pm for food and drink sellers.

    The council has also provided a rundown of exactly what is happening where.

    Piccadilly Gardens has once again be transformed into the Winter Gardens for the festive season serving up pancakes, churros and an array of winter tipples. The food and drink line-up also includes vegan bratwurst, cookie dough, Amsterdam Frites and bars serving continental and foreign ales. There are also dedicated weekly trial spots for new local traders as they step into winter trading and try out their wares on the Christmas market crowds.

    Details of the 2022 Manchester Christmas Markets have been released. Photo: Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photography Ltd

    The Winter Gardens also have a giant Nordic-themed double tipi bar for over 18s, which is heated and festooned with ambient lighting, wooden benches, fake furs, and a fire pit. There is entertainment throughout the week including live music and DJs and vendors next to the tipi are serving vegan food and Korean hotdogs.

    Old favourites the Pig and Barrel are back in the Winter Gardens offering pork barms and a cosy seating area with entertainment on most nights, while there is also the iconic Manchester Windmill. Accessible changing facilities, which includes an adult weighted change bed, a shower, toilet, and an adult weighted track hoist are also available in Winter Gardens as well as priority seating for disabled visitors.

    St Ann’s Square, the original site for Manchester’s Christmas markets, once again has its large undercover bar providing German beers and warm cherry Gluhwein for the Christmas revellers, while the square and Exchange Street is also home to local traders and Manchester foodie favourites such as Yard and Coop with their salt and pepper chicken fries. There is also fresh authentic paella and tapas, continental chocolates, English cheeses and art emporiums.

    Market Street is always a firm favourite with Christmas shoppers and it is home to stalls selling a wide range of gifts from tweed hats, spiced rum and Christmas decorations, to candles, jewellery, and gift sets of cheese truckles.

    King Street has the Christmas deli stalls taking foodies on a world tour from Italian cannelloni and arancini and Greek gyros and halloumi fries to French garlic mushrooms and Salford Rum. Middle Eastern restaurant Habas, part of the El Gato Negro group, is also on King Street during the markets for the first time.

    Manchester Christmas Markets

    New Cathedral Street has high-end gift stalls and food available, with shoppers able to browse fine cast ornaments, old fashioned liquorice, cocktails to take home and light up Christmas decorations, while the food stalls offer everything from vegan five-bean chilli to New York bagels. The Witch House has also returned to New Cathedral Street with its traditional steins and currywurst.

    Exchange Square is allowing shoppers to warm up at the instantly-recognisable Mill Exchange bar, which serves Mancunian mulled wine and has artwork featuring legends of Manchester adorning its walls. For 2022 there is also the return of Porky Pig’s Yorkshire Pudding Wrap, alongside stalls selling hot curries, mini pancakes, fresh fudge, hand-carved olivewood decorations, German kebabs, and gourmet Italian pizza.

    The Corn Exchange has fairtrade hats and jackets, character-themed hats and belts, as well as handmade pies, cupcakes and soaps available from its stalls stretching from the historic building to Shambles Square.

    Lastly Cathedral Gardens opens on Saturday 22 October in time for half-term and Halloween, getting the party started with the much-loved undercover ice rink Skate MCR. There is entertainment from Thursday to Sunday all the way through to New Year’s Eve. Next to the ice rink, hot food, warm drinks, pancakes and tipples are on offer from nearby market stalls to help warm up cold hands and feet after a stint on the ice. The rink will be open until Tuesday 3 January and the food and drink stalls will remain open until Saturday 31 December.

    What else is going on in the run-up to Christmas?

    As well as getting everyone into the city for the markets the council wants Manchester to look its sparkly best in the run-up to the festive period. The Manchester Christmas lights trail, illuminating the city centre throughout the festive season with its walk-through giant baubles, a Manchester bee, and of course Santa Claus himself - who will be keeping an eye on all things Christmas in Manchester from his perch on high in front of Central Library on St Peter’s Square.

    The council says there will also be some other Christmas events taking place in the city this year, but the finishing touches are still being put to them and the details remain firmly under wraps for now.

    What has been said about the Manchester Christmas Markets for 2022?

    Coun Pat Karney, lead councillor for Christmas at Manchester City Council, said: “Christmas is looking better than ever this year in Manchester with our world-beating Christmas markets open and a whole host of other unmissable free festive treats also coming our way.

    “Everyone knows that Manchester does Christmas better than anywhere else and I’ve been counting down the days to the opening of our Christmas markets again since the day they closed last year.

    Coun Pat Karney. Photo: Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photography Ltd

    “We’ve got some fantastic new festive additions to the markets this year, as well as some other unmissable festive surprises which are set to get everyone in Manchester smiling in the run-up to Christmas.”