It’s official, Christmas shopping season has arrived. The mad dash is very much on to get all your presents purchased, wrapped and safely under the tree in time for Christmas Day – and we’ve got just the place for you to go, Affleck’s.
Whilst we know some will already be well ahead of the game we expect that most, like us, have still got a few bits to go – so we wanted to champion the benefits of shopping independently whilst there’s still time.
So this Christmas, we decided we’d check out one of the longest-standing hubs for independents in Manchester – indoor NQ market Affleck’s (formerly Affleck’s Palace) – and try and get all of our Christmas presents in one go.
Spoiler alert, we were quite overwhelmed by choice – there are over 50 traders to discover here, plus a tattoo parlour, piercing studio, nail salon, and a host of cute, quirky cafes.
A veritable treasure trove for any gift-giver, but especially the last-minute shopper, if you need to find a present in a hurry we find it hard to believe that Affleck’s could let you down.
A fixture in the city for over 40 years, it’s got it all. From an array of quirky mugs and cards to vintage clothing items, local artwork, figurines, jewellery and more, no matter who you’re buying for there’s definitely something here to be discovered. All you have to do is look.
Keep reading to discover some of our top picks for independent Christmas shopping at Affleck’s in Manchester this December.
Vinyl Resting Place
The home of all things vinyl at Affleck’s, whether you’re looking for rare 7″, old LPs or some bootleg remixes of your favourite track, this is the place to hunt for it. Everything in the store is pre-loved and has been hand-picked by its owners over the course of 15 years.
We spent quite a decent amount of time scouring the folk section, which is extensive, but all genres are covered here – from rock and pop, to hip-hop, house, techno, americana, low-fi, gospel, soul, funk and everything in between. There’s also a big rack of CDs to get stuck into.
The LGBTQ+ Book Store
From autobiographies and biographies of famous LGBTQ+ people, to feminist literature, contemporary fiction, children’s booksw and so much more, there’s a section for everything at the LGBTQ+ book store.
A relatively new addition to Affleck’s, it’s definitely a welcome one – and standing in it makes you realise just how many amazing queer authors we have to celebrate. From fictional romance and thrilllers, to true real life stories of queer experience told to you straight by the people that’ve lived them, we could easily lose a few hours in here.
Earth Friendly Rocker
The heart of sustainability, Earth Friendly Rock has everything you need to make your lifestyle a little bit greener. Stocking everything from bamboo toothbrushes and eco-friendly soaps, to sustainable candles, shampoo bars, bath bombs, fudge and more, if you want it chances are they’ve got it.
Present-wise, we spotted some pretty-looking slabs of vegan fudge (called Slab, conveniently), huge glass jars filled with cookie mix, bars of oat milk chocolate, self-help books to inspire your new sustainable lifestyle and more.
Mad for Art
First begun as a hobby by its Middleton-based owners back in 2017, today Mad for Art can be found on the first floor of Affleck’s selling a whole host of vintage prints ranging from vintage films and pin-ups to iconic old Vogue covers, adverts for Martini, Campari and luxury perfumes, plus images of music legends, classic cars, food, travel and more.
Honestly, we could’ve spent hours digging in here – there are so many brilliant pieces to uncover.
Inspired Life CBD
CBD seems like it’s everywhere now, but if you’re looking for the best quality products on the market Inspired Life CBD on the first floor of Affleck’s is a shout.
Selling 100% organic, natural products, you can find everything from tea and chocolate to CBD-infused massage oil here – with a friendly owner on hand to explain all the nuances of each product in detail. Great for easing stress, anxiety and better sleep, it’s an all-natural remedy (and yes, it’s made from Cannabis but it’s won’t get you high).
Head to the top floor of Affleck’s to find Sour Cherry – the prettiest, quirkiest little jewellery shop. Whilst there are so many jewellery-makers in the market to discover, each with their own niche, we were particularly taken with Sour Cherry, which sells quirky earrings, necklaces and more in fun shapes like gingerbread men, fruit and animals.
One of the first shops you’ll enter on your way in, Luna has it all for the last-minute Christmas shopping dash. Mugs, beanies, jewellery, patches, accessories, you name it – it’s here.
We picked up a brilliant mug, but the team here is really known for their pin badges, all of which are made by the team in-house.
Feature image – The Manc Group
Boxing legend Ricky Hatton revealed as first Dancing on Ice contestant for 2024
In a surprising announcement from the world of television and boxing, legendary fighter and Manc sporting icon Ricky Hatton has been announced as the very first contestant on the next season of Dancing on Ice.
And yes, we’d wager we’re about as surprised as you are.
Ricky Hatton fully retired from boxing back in 2012 and has been busy coaching at his gym in Hyde ever since, but did return for an exhibition match in November last year and has clearly been keeping in shape — so much so that he fancied a crack at joining the Dancing on Ice cast of 2024
Appearing on This Morning on Tuesday, 26 September, the Stockport-born bruiser confirmed that he will be taking part in the upcoming series which starts in January.
If they don’t do a routine set to the tune of ‘Blue Moon’, it’ll be us who start throwing fists.
Punching his way onto the ITV studio this morning, Hatton revealed himself as the first contestant of the hit ice-skating reality show next season, with presenter Holly Willoughby stating that she “can’t wait to get [him] in the rink” and Ricky joking, “I wish I shared your confidence”.
Explaining exactly why he said yes, the 44-year-old said, “I like setting new challenges and keeping myself busy”, acknowledging that he also struggled with retirement when he hung up his gloves.
Admitting that there aren’t many adventures quite as new as taking on Dancing on Ice in front of millions of viewers watching back home, ‘Hitman’ said, “If I can hold my nerve in the boxing ring I should be able to hold my nerve in the ice rink.”
As for how well he’ll fare swapping the ring for the rink, only time will tell but he was always known for his footwork just as much as he was for his power, so we’re backing him to be a bit of a dark horse.
We can’t wait to see the Mancunian get skating, especially with him making such a concerted effort to raise awareness surrounding mental health and how keeping busy, exercising and setting yourself new challenges can have a big impact.
The Manc had the immense pleasure of chatting with Ricky a few months back ahead of the 2023 Manchester Remembers charity match, another cause he was proud to get behind. It was a joy.
Featured Image — Ricky Hatton (via Instagram/Twitter)
Andy Burnham and Bev Craig pen hard-hitting letter to Prime Minister over rumoured scrapping of HS2 to Manchester
Andy Burnham and Cllr Bev Craig have penned a hard-hitting letter to Rishi Sunak to “express concern” about the future of HS2.
It comes after alarming reports have emerged this week that the Prime Minister is apparently considering axing plans for the HS2 rail link to run from Birmingham to Manchester amid soaring costs and countless delays.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and several major business leaders may have hit out at these rumours – but Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has suggested the scheme is currently “out of control”, while former transport secretary Grant Shapps said the Government wouldn’t be able to cope if costs continued on an upward trajectory.
With a decision on the fate of the already-contentious project’s Manchester leg expected in the coming days, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and the Leader of Manchester City Council have joined forces in their stance against the “swirling rumours”.
The pair have penned a hard-hitting letter directly to the Prime Minister to call out the Government’s actions.
Local leaders have always maintained the view that the wrong HS2 solution for Greater Manchester could “damage” and have a wider impact on the north, and this latest letter addressed directly to the Prime Minister by the Mayor and Council Leader only reinforces that stance – with the pair calling it “deeply disrespectful” to residents and businesses in our region that the Government has not offered them a chance to consult on potential scrapping of the service.
Andy Burnham and Cllr Bev Craig say they’ve been “working with the Government for decades” on the HS2 project in order to best “galvanise support” and “maximise the once-in-a-generation opportunity” of the investment into northern infrastructure that offers.
But now, they’re becoming “increasingly concerned” about the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) as a whole.
“At this stage, any change to the current plan for HS2 would have massive ramifications, not just for our city-region, but the North and Midlands too,” Mr Burnham and Cllr Craig stated in their letter.
“Any cancellation of HS2 to Manchester would effectively be cancelling NPR in its current form too, and we therefore find it deeply disrespectful to our residents and businesses that we have not been offered any opportunity to feed our views into this process nor have we received any information about what is being considered.
“We are completely in the dark and that simply isn’t right given how profoundly important this is for our part of the country.”
Mr Burnham and Cllr Craig conceded that whilst it is “reasonable” for any Government to want to ensure HS2 “delivers value for money”, and that prices do not “escalate out of control”, they do not believe the north should “have to pay for the Government’s mismanagement” of the HS2 budget.
“Our purpose in writing, first and foremost, is to ask you for the courtesy of a meeting before any final decision is taken,” the pair continued in their letter to Mr Sunak.
“We believe we are owed that at the very least.
“If you were to agree to that, we would convey to you, in the strongest possible terms, that HS2 should not be scrapped as we believe the north of England needs new North-South and East-West rail infrastructure, and should not be forced to choose between them in the same way that London hasn’t been forced such a choice.
“However, if you are adamant on making changes to the scheme, we could be open to a discussion about prioritising the Northern section of the line, between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly, so that it enables NPR to be built first.
“This would be conditional on two things – NPR being built in full, with an underground station at Manchester Piccadilly and a new line via Bradford, and a clear commitment that HS2 to Manchester is not being scrapped but re-phased and the protections left in place.