Manchester Christmas Markets come to a close this week on Thursday as the city celebrates a bumper year of festive trading with crowds back up to pre-Covid levels.
Thousands upon thousands of visitors have thronged into the city centre to visit the world-famous Christmas markets that this year have seen 220 of the iconic ski chalet wooden stalls spread out across nine different locations in the city.
Christmas present hunters have been spoilt for choice with gifts from amazing crafters and producers, alongside food and drink stalls cooking up all kinds of festive and gourmet treats.
So popular in fact has the markets’ traditional offering been of Gluhwein and mugs of hot chocolate laden with marshmallows and all the trimmings, that this year’s specially produced 2022 Manchester Christmas Market mugs were a complete sell-out, breaking all previous records.
By the middle of last week with more than a week of trading still left, every single one of the 140,000 highly prized and collectable mugs that can either be ‘rented’ and returned to stalls after use or paid-for and taken home by shoppers as a reminder of their visit, had sold out – leaving market bosses to bring out the vintage mugs from previous years to meet the enormous visitor demand.
Roaming puppets, supersized penguins, and illuminated bands have also played their part in boosting visitor numbers to the annual markets, by taking to Manchester’s main shopping streets in the run-up to Christmas as part of a new for this year Festive Sundays programme.
Aimed at families and commissioned by Manchester Business Improvement District, the six-week programme helped bring an extra weekend sparkle and lots of fun to the city’s streets for Christmas shoppers and market visitors alike.
Visitor numbers to the Christmas Markets were further boosted by the very first-ever Manchester Christmas Parade – a magical and unforgettable festive-first for the city, held on Sunday 11 December.
Praised as the heart-warming event of the season – and the only parade of its kind in the UK – it saw more than 200 participants weave their way through the city centre in a procession filled with all the sights, sounds, and sparkle of Christmas.
Thousands flocked into the city centre to watch the made-for-memories parade, with crowds young and old lining the streets for the free event which brought with it an extra special dose of Christmas magic.
This year’s markets were also the greenest yet in Manchester – with measures such as the use of low energy LED lighting and Biofuel rather than diesel to generate electricity, as well as the re-usable glass and mug scheme, all built into the event planning to help reduce the carbon footprint of the much-loved markets.
A lot of work also went into ensuring accessibility was at the heart of this year’s Christmas markets with the provision of fully accessible toilets and changing facilities, along with priority seating and dedicated spaces for visitors to rest and take a breather from all the action, to make sure everyone could enjoy what was on offer.
Councillor Pat Karney, Christmas spokesperson for Manchester City Council, said: “Visitor numbers to our world-famous Christmas Markets have exceeded all expectations this year, with thousands upon thousands of visitors flocking into the city centre to enjoy them.
“We’re definitely back up to pre-Covid levels and it’s clear that visitors are really enjoying having their freedoms back and are making the most of this.
“Despite a bit of a dip in numbers seen during the train strike days, our first-ever Manchester Christmas Parade and our Festive Sundays aimed at families really helped boost overall visitor numbers and helped create an extra bit of Manchester Christmas magic.
“And with visitors gulping down the Gluhwein and managing to get through a whopping 140,000 Christmas mugs, thank goodness we had some spares from previous years and were able to bring out the vintage!
“It’s not just the mugs either that have been going down a storm this year, we’ve also been talking to our traders and have worked out in a very scientific fashion that if all the bratwursts and sausages sold at the Christmas markets during their run this year were laid end-to-end, we’d have a line of sausages that would stretch pretty much from Manchester all the way to Liverpool!
“More than anything though, what our visitor numbers this year tell us is that it’s clearly game-on for 2023, and we’re already starting to think about how we can make Christmas in Manchester next year even greener and greater than ever. Our planning will start in earnest in the new year and we’ll be looking closely as we go at all the brilliant suggestions people have come up with on how we might do this.
“I’m also told by the elves-in-the-know that this will include suggestions from the big red man himself, who as well as confirming he will definitely be back in his favourite city in the world again next year has, I believe, a couple of ideas of his own on how we can make Manchester even more San-tastic in 2023!”
Manchester’s world-famous Christmas Markets are open until 5 pm tomorrow Thursday 22 December.
The market stalls at Cathedral Gardens alongside the Ice Rink will however remain open in the run-up to Christmas and again after Christmas until New Year’s Eve.
The opening times for stalls at Cathedral Gardens from 22 December are as follows:
22 Dec – open 11 am close at 9 pm
23 Dec – open 11 am close at 9 pm
24 Dec – open 10 am close at 5 pm
25 Dec – closed for Christmas Day
26 Dec – 31 Dec – open 10 am close at 6 pm