Traders’ tills are ringing after Manchester’s Christmas markets – voted among the best in the world – opened this week to phenomenal numbers.
Now celebrating its 14th anniversary, organisers decided to extend the markets to more than 300 stalls in the hope of eclipsing last year’s impressive total of 1.3million visitors.
Early indications show the decision by Manchester City Council has paid off, according to trader Arnd Reither, from Germany, who said it was the busiest start of his six years here.
“Sales have been great so far and we are hopeful that we can do very well over the Christmas period,” said the Authentic German Gluhwein House trader.
“We come here very year from Bavaria and every year it just gets bigger and bigger.
“Albert Square is a terrific location for the market and people love to come and sample the Christmas atmosphere.”
Albert Square, which is watched over by a giant Santa Claus, is one of eight locations across the city.
As well as offering Christmas gifts, the markets are renowned for their large variety of food and drink with drink connoisseurs able to sample German, Spanish or French wine.
Another new addition this year is a beer garden, next to a new 16-metre high windmill in Exchange Square.
Impressed by the new features to freshen up the festive extravagance, Nick Seed of beverage stall Highland Lodge is also hopeful this could be a record year for all traders.
“I’ve been here for the last ten years and the markets have really expanded in that period,” said Mr Seed whose best sellers include speciality coffees, mulled wine and mead.
“The markets do not tire as they are always progressing and I am hopeful that the strong sales so far are going to continue.”
Speaking about the start of the city’s top visitor attraction, Manchester’s Christmas spokesman, Councillor Pat Karney was full of praise.
“I went down on Saturday night and I’ve never known it to be so busy,” he said.
“There were people literally queuing just to get onto the site, and that’s something I’ve never seen before – the atmosphere was fantastic.”
He added: “We were the first to bring this traditional taste of Europe to the UK and every year we have beaten off competition to remain the original, the biggest and the best.”