The design for the Manchester Christmas Markets 2023 mug has been revealed – along with how much it’ll cost you.
There’s a small price hike for the cups this year, with the cost of a mug rising from £3 to £3.50.
When you buy your first hot drink at the Manchester Christmas Markets you’ll be charged a £3.50 deposit for your mug – it’s then up to you whether you keep the mug and lose the deposit, or return it to the bar and get your money back.
The mugs are a popular collectible souvenir every year though, with last year’s demand so great the Christmas Markets actually ran out of them and had to resort to using retro mugs from previous years.
This year’s design features festive Nutcracker artwork with a Scandi feel, and comes from Manchester City Council’s in-house design studio.
As always, there are two different mug designs and sizes to collect – a large white mug for hot chocolates, and a smaller navy one for mulled wine and other warming boozy beverages.
The council is urging people not to leave their visit until the last minute for fear of mugs selling out again, saying that in 2022 us festive lot got through a whopping 140,000 specially produced mugs.
Extra Christmas Market mugs have been ordered for 2023 though, with 170,000 speeding their way to Manchester’s cosy wooden huts as we speak.
A few mugs are already in circulation at the ice rink in Cathedral Gardens, where a few festive market stalls have already opened.
Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson, said: “Our iconic Christmas mugs are the must-have accessory of the festive season and absolutely no social media feed should be without one!
“With different designs every year the collectible mugs are highly sought after and even have Santa’s seal of approval. Don’t leave it too late to come and get yours!
“No-one does Christmas quite like Manchester and we can’t wait to welcome everyone to Santa’s favourite city and to our world-beating Christmas Markets again this year!”
Manchester’s Christmas markets open on Friday 10 November and close on Thursday 21 December.
The best Christmas light trails in Greater Manchester and beyond
Greater Manchester has been invaded, with so many light trails taking place this year it feels like you’ve been swarmed by fireflies.
There are light trails in parks, light trails in the city, light trails in zoos and light trails in gardens.
There’s a style to suit every taste too, whether you’re into a colourful, nostalgic Christmas, or ultra-tasteful festivities that take your breath away.
There’s even a light trail that will hit the brief if you’re particularly interested in blending winter light trails with disco music…
So we’ve travelled the length and breadth of the north west to pick out the best light trails that are worth your time and money this Christmas.
Know of one we’ve missed? Reach out to us through our socials.
Christmas at Heaton Park, Manchester
A brand new festive light trail has opened in Manchester this winter, filling Heaton Park with glowing orbs, neon trees, and fairylit tunnels.
The spectacular new festive event loops around the park’s lake, where installations on the water include colourful ships and light beams.
And down in the woods you’ll find a laser garden, a flurry of bubbles, larger-than-life glowing flowers, and twinkling pink trees.
You can stop off at a festive teepee for a mulled wine, toast your marshmallows on an open fire, and whizz around the fairground rides at the end too. Did we mention the whole trail is dog-friendly, too?
Adult standard tickets £18 | Running until 31 December | Tickets here
Manchester’s newest city centre park, Mayfield Park, has been transformed into a festive ‘Twilight Trail’ for the first time ever this Christmas.
This brand-new immersive experience is made up of several spectacular light displays, unique lantern installations, and a captivation sound-scape dotted around the pristine new park – with each circuit estimated to take around half an hour.
And at the end you can dive into Winter Island, Freight Island’s Christmas season, and grab yourself some food and drink, from a build-your-own boozy hot chocolate bar from Cocoa Cabana, to the Smoking Coal German BBQ, serving a whole bratwurst menu, Schweinshaxe in a bun, and a classic hog roast butty.
Adult tickets £10 | Running until 31 December | Tickets here
The Twilight Trail is now open, and running right through until the new year, and you can find out more and grab tickets here.
Put Big Light On Bolton, Bolton
Easily the light trail with the best name in Greater Manchester is Put Big Light On Bolton, which has a range of light installations installed in the town centre.
There’s everything from a giant moon by Luke Jerram to a Dan Archer creation that brings the Northern Lights to our hometown.
There are special events taking place around the light festival too – but most of it wraps up this weekend, so you’ll have to move fast.
The completely free Lightwaves Festival is back at Salford Quays this week for its 10th instalment, this time with 15 artworks – three of which are brand new commissions.
Highlights include a luminescent artwork in the shape of a six-metre-long whale shark, complete with transparent fish scales, and a tunnel of giant mirrored rings across the piazza that people can walk through.
Then there are giant glowing flowers and a fire garden you can roam around too.
7-10 December | Free, no tickets needed
Castlefield Viaduct, Manchester city centre
Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester, the lush National Trust site built up on a disused railway viaduct, is inviting visitors to see the urban green space by nightfall.
There’ll be a free Lantern Lates series where the park will transform into a ‘magical, sparkling grotto’.
Visitors can climb up to Castlefield Viaduct , the huge industrial landmark that has views right across Manchester city centre, and savour the winter wonderland created for the coming season.
It’s before the National Trust project closes for a few weeks in the new year for work to refresh the gardens for spring and summer.
A brand-new immersive experience has opened at Chester Zoo for the festive season this week.
Lanterns and Light gives visitors the chance to explore captivating light installations and be transported into enchanting lands filled with colour and festivity, all while meeting orangutans, lions, dolphins, and woolly mammoths as they make their way along the trail.
There’s also colour changing displays stretching as far as the eye can see, birds and stars adorning the zoo’s winding paths and trees, and a spectacular Winter Cathedral tunnel of lights.
Until 31 December | Adult tickets £22 | Buy tickets here.
Cosy pubs near the Manchester Christmas Markets where you can hide from the madness
The Manchester Christmas Markets are in full flow for another year, and they are BUSY.
Once again, thousands of people are pouring into the city centre every weekend and evening to browse the massive range of food, drink and gifts being sold from the village of wooden huts that have appeared in town.
And there’s no denying that the markets do bring plenty of festive cheer to town, with Nutcracker mugs in every hand and people munching on sausages as they walk.
But when the hustle and bustle and the cold all gets a bit much – and if you’re anything like us, one or two drinks at the Christmas Markets is plenty – you’ll be looking for respite.
This stunning new pub has been created by Pomona Island, the much-loved local craft brewery, and it’s handily located within staggering distance of the Market Street, Piccadilly Gardens and King Street Christmas markets hubs.
Pomona Island has taken on a chunk of the former Chaophraya restaurant, turning the grand arch-windowed red-brick building serving their own craft beers – from the easy-drinking Factotum, to the excellent Phaedra pale ale.
And boy is it cosy – North Westward Ho feels like a proper Manchester pub that has been styled with dark wooden details, ornate tiling, wall sconces, oil paintings, dark green ceramic brick times, and loads of cosy corners.
The Victoria Tap is a new beer bar that’s completely transformed a corner of the station that was previously home to a bin store, and it’s a perfect place to pause between the Cathedral Gardens Christmas Markets and your train home.
You won’t miss your train either – on the wall inside the pub is a departures board that advises how many pints you can fit in before your train leaves.
Northern breweries on the taps at Victoria Tap include Brew York, Blackjack and Runaway, plus a good selection of European beers from the likes of kostritzer, Bitburger and Schremser.
Inside there are traditional parquet floors underfoot and a dark green bar running almost the whole length of the micropub.
You wouldn’t think that the place to escape the madness of the Manchester Christmas Markets would be the Manchester Arndale, aka the biggest shopping mall in town and one that is RAMMED with shoppers in December.
But wedged into a corner of the Arndale Market is Micro Bar, a teeny tiny pub with a good selection of German and Belgian beers on keg plus hundreds of bottles and cans in the fridges.
If you’re quick and lucky, you can get a seat overlooking High Street and feel extra smug that you’re on the quiet side of the glass.
Arndale Food Market, M4 3AH
The Sadler’s Cat
Formerly known as The Pilcrow, this shed-like pub on Sadler’s Yard is now in the very trustworthy hands of Cloudwater Brewery.
The space itself was built by local people through a series of workshops, with members of the public creating everything from the tabletops to the lampshades.
There is, of course, Cloudwater beers, but also plenty of others to choose from, a menu of natural wines, and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails.
It’s also stumbling distance from Cathedral Gardens – you can practically skate here from the ice rink.
Disappear from St Ann’s Square – where you can barely move for gluhwein and tinsel – and down into the cave-like wine bar that is Corbieres.
Something of a Manchester institution, this brilliant bar has a jukebox loaded with great music, and a decent range of wines and beers.
It also does free pizza with any drink purchased, Tuesday to Friday 4.30pm to 7.30pm.
AND, as they’re advertising themselves as an escape from the markets, they’re even happy for you to bring the food you buy at the markets into the bar.
2 Half Moon St, M2 7PB
Mr Thomas’s Chop House
Any of the Chop Houses are guaranteed to be maximum cosy, with their Victorian interiors still largely in tact and menus full of massive stodgy food.
There are two that are both right near the King Street batch of Christmas Markets – Sam’s is beneath the previously mentioned North Westward Ho, while Albert’s is within that iconic tall skinny building on Cross Street.
At this time of year they’re extra festive thanks to soft white fairy lights and candles.