7 Step Guide To Surviving The Manchester Christmas Markets

It 100% doesn’t feel like a year since I last spent a weekend being herded through the Manchester Christmas Markets holding onto the single finger I could find in the crowd to keep me guided, but it is! The Manchester Christmas Markets return tomorrow and as anxiety-inducing as those masses of people can be, will I be back this year? Erm.. yes. You know I will, won’t you?
I don’t know many Mancunians that don’t have a love-hate relationship with the Christmas Markets, honestly. We wait the whole year with visions of cute winter outfits and romantic foodie moments, but cute outfits quickly turn into hindrances as we try to hold onto tiny cups without them slipping under our mittens (oh…mittens, how long has it been since you wore mittens?! Three guesses what I’m buying after work today.) And romantic foodie moments are marred by the smelly cheeses and sudden but overwhelming need NOT to share our pancakes. It’s a whole damn thing. We want it… but we don’t… but we really do.
So how about just figuring out a survival plan? That’s got to help right? We’ve come up with the ultimate 7 Step Guide For Surviving The Manchester Christmas Markets this year. Interested? Keep reading…

1. Choose Your Day.

Not always easy with kids and work and life but this is maybe the best hack we have for you. In my experience, and I have so much when it comes to the Manchester Christmas Markets, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are by far the better days to go. And if you can get there between 11am-3pm you’ll have a much more enjoyable time. Way less bodies about, which means little to zero pushing of your own, easy browsing and minimal queueing.

2. Split The Markets

If you’re local and have the time to split the Markets do. Especially with kids, you’re punishing yourself if you put pressure on yourself to do the full round in one go. The markets have grown massively since they arrived in ’99, buuut… the good stuff is always repeated across stalls, so don’t hike the full city just to see the same-same. You’ll find markets close to every Major travel point in the city, and we wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to stick to the zone around your train/tram/bus station. Girls gotta do what girls gotta do, especially in boots.

3. Validate Your Parking

Speaking of travel points, if you’re driving in, please save yourself the gut-wrenching of seeing a £20+ bill for your 4-hour parking, or worse, the ticket. Teacup will always *validate your parking if you’re using the Northern Quarter NCP Car Park, and the savings are really significant, so don’t pass on the opportunity.

4. Be Strategic

It’s so tempting to run straight over to the first stalls you see and get wrapped up in trinkets. Before you know it you’ve covered two-thirds of the circuit and you need to sit down so bad you’d happily take the toddler out of the pram and squeeze your mum-bum in there for a minute or two. So be strategic. Decide how far you can really go in those shoes, or with 3 kids or whatever your deal might be, and start your day at the furthest point. If you’re getting into the city via Victoria and you want to get as far as Townhall, jump on a tram to Albert Square (bypassing the temptation!) And start in the main markets, making your way back toward Victoria. That way, by the time your exhausted and cranky you’ll already be at your platform.

5. Refuel, The Smart Way

How can I say this without being too blatant? I don’t think I can. Refuel at Teacup. The thing is, I’ve made this mistake too many times,  I don’t know why I kept doing it! If you’re anything like me you’re going to need to stop and refuel with caffeine. I can’t stress this enough, do not do this at chains. Here’s why… Everybody and their gran/dog/suitcase will be in there. You’ll queue for 45 minutes for a sad looking version of what would usually be, alright, on a less busy day. And if you manage to find a seat, you’ll fight for it, and then to keep it. And forget about the toilet. At Teacup, we have Speciality Tea and Manchester Roasted Ancoats Coffee to enhance your day, not ruin it. We have space, we have clean bathrooms and if you’re totally hardcore and don’t feel the need to sit, we also have take out, which is packaged in planet and ocean-friendly, sustainably made compostable packaging. Even the coffee lids! We’re kind of proud of this.

6. Dress For The Weather

Winter is coming. For real though, Manchester is getting chilly! One year (probably in my teens) I walked around the markets in the snow and a mini skirt.  I was sick for a month after! What was I thinking? Who knows, what are any teenagers thinking, ever? Mystery. Anyway, google weather doesn’t always account for the erratic weather systems that make Manchester rain such a famous phenomenon, umbrellas don’t work during busier periods though. Sorry, they just don’t. Don’t be that person. Pack a waterproof, and have gloves, a scarf, and hat… all the usual things. Don’t skip this step. Mooching in soggy clothes when you still have 3 hours left of the trip is not good.

7. Shop Around

I’m serious, I LOVE buying gifts at the market but I HATE seeing that hat that’s perfect for Jess on King Street being sold for £4 less five meters away in Exchange Square. To put it into perspective, that £4 is another batch of Nutella pancakes!

I think that’s everything… but if you know anything we don’t, share the wisdom in the comments! See you there? Actually, see you here, when you’re validating, yes?