Out of festive cheer? Christmas in Manchester for Scrooges – a guide

By Richard O’Meara

If watching The Snowman for the umpteenth time, rolling sprouts around your plate or awkwardly shuffling past your boss at the Christmas party doesn’t get you feeling festive then never fear.

This year Manchester is hosting a series of alternative activities to, watch, eat, drink and buy that buck tradition over the festive period.

Away from the sizzle of Bratwurst and wafting aroma of mulled wine at the Christmas markets, a handful of not so festive treats to the well-trodden city centre streets.

Altrincham’s market which runs every Thursday in weeks before the big day features a handpicked array of independent stalls, gifts and entertainment.

Festive nosh options on offer include not so traditional dishes such as ‘Thai-in-a-pie’ (yep, basically Thai food in a crust), Mexican enchiladas and hen, duck and quail eggs.

Meanwhile smaller scale alternative Christmas markets have also popped up in Castlefield, Greengate in Salford and most other boroughs of Greater Manchester.

On December 19, Christmas gets creepy as the Ghostly Christmas Cruise floats down the Bridgewater Canal on a two-and-a-half hour moonlit adventure.

Expect Manchester and Salford themed ‘terrifying tales from the deep’ and not so terrifying mince pies and mulled wine while on-board.

Chorlton’s The Horse and Jockey’s Winter Solstice event on December 21 is this year headlined by Chorlton Children’s Choir.

Don’t expect a Silent Night at the popular family and pet friendly pub however as their repertoire includes hits from Oasis, The Stone Roses and Elbow.

There are also alternatives for those who want some respite from the usual TV line up of family friendly flicks, big budget blockbusters and Christmas specials.

Cornerhouse is showing a number of more offbeat films about Christmas, using the holiday as a backdrop to show the more troubling side of the season.

Highlights dug out to be shown in the run up to Christmas day include A Midnight Clear, a tense anti-war portrayal of German soldiers taken captive by Americans in December 1944.

Curse of the Cat People, which is perhaps not quite as bizarre as the title suggests, meanwhile is a dreamlike piece from the 1940s about loneliness and the childhood innocence of the season.

Full listings for the always innovative Cornerhouse’s ‘Otherside of Yuletide’ can be found here.

If you are looking for somewhere out of the ordinary to host a Christmas party, the National Football Museum could be a good shout for festive footy fanatics.

The huge space can hold hundreds of people and unique attractions like having your picture taken with a trophy or trying your hand in the commentary booth make it a distinctive party venue.

The Northern Quarter’s 2022NQ’s ‘Lone Wolf Ball’ meanwhile promises to give freelancers, usually the ginger stepchildren of the Christmas party season, somewhere to get merry on December 19 with fellow outworkers.

Finally if you still haven’t ticked off that Christmas shopping list yet, popping down to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre could nab your loved ones some unique gifts.

Open on Sundays and Thursdays, the centre is home to 18 independent studios creating a diverse array of bespoke, personalised gift ideas.

Jewellery, bags, ceramics, interior accessories, furniture, paintings and more can all be bought straight from the hands of the people who made them.

You can also unwind after splashing your cash with free drinks and music on selected nights at the centre.

Image courtesy of Jeffrey via Flickr, with thanks.

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