Winter Island will be the UK’s largest heated outdoor and indoor winter festival

It’s almost time for boozy hot chocolates, baubles and big scarfs. And if you’ve done Manchester’s Christmas Markets to death, there’s a new grotto in town. 

From Thursday 9 November until Christmas Eve, Sunday 24 December, Freight Island will transform into the UK’s largest heated outdoor and indoor winter festival.

This festive season, the ginormous food hall and outdoor events space will be known as ‘Winter Island’.

The Twilight Trail’s unique light installations will completely transform this incredible park.

2023 09 22 Winter Island Sparkler
Add some sparkle to your winter evenings Image: Freight Island/Mayfield Park

New addition for this year, Mayfield Park will become home to The Twilight Trail – an enchanting winter light show designed for everyone to enjoy. The Twilight Trail is set to launch on Friday 17 November and will run until Sunday 31 December. 

Located just a short five-minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly Station, The Twilight Trail and Winter Island is easily accessible from transport links including trains, trams and buses. 

The trail comes as part of a collaboration between Mayfield Park and Freight Island and promises to be the ideal budget-friendly inner-city Christmas destination for all ages. Tickets for the winter light show are available now, priced at £8 for November dates and £9 for December dates. There’s also family concession tickets (2 adults and 2 children) available for £28/£32 depending on the month you choose to visit.

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An illustration of what Winter Island will look like Image: Freight Island/Mayfield Park

Laura Percy, Development Director at LandSecU+I, leading the regeneration of Mayfield, said: “The new Twilight Trail promises to be a brilliant addition to both Mayfield Park and the whole of Manchester city centre, complementing the Christmas markets, which are such a popular destination for thousands of visitors every year.”

“We are thrilled to be able to offer our neighbours in Ardwick and Brunswick, particularly families, a large number of complimentary tickets so that as many people as possible can come and enjoy the Trail.

“The spirit of innovation at Mayfield is long-established and it’s great to see our partners at Freight Island continuing to push the boundaries with this exciting autumn programme.”

Jon Drape from The Twilight Trail said: “We are thrilled to bring a new festive experience to Mayfield Park this year. The Twilight Trail’s unique light installations will completely transform this incredible park. 

We are very proud to be able to deliver such a wonderful experience at an affordable price this year, whether for the family, groups of friends or a date night. Combined with the opportunity to visit the brand-new Winter Island next door we believe Depot Mayfield is set to be an unrivalled Christmas destination in the UK.”

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Big, boozy, Belgian hot chocolates Image: Freight Island/Mayfield Park

Visitors will finish the 30-minute trail at Freight Island (or Winter Island as it will be known throughout the festive season). Here, there will be more festive experiences to take part in including the Visit Santa Experience for kids and indulgent Christmas hot chocolates with boozy options from Cocoa Cabana for the adults.

The Teesside delicacy that turned into Manc favourites, Parmogeddon, will be doing what it does best at Freight Island this Christmas, whilst an all-new all-cheese concept, Formaggi by Lazy Tony’s will be on hand to serve Italian-American toasties, deep fried Burrata in tomato sauce, melted Camembert, Taleggio nuggets and more.

Over at Smoking Coal German BBQ, the team will be serving Schweinshaxe in a bun, a whole Bratwurst menu and a classic Hog Roast butty. Freight Island’s tap room will host an exclusive Paulaner bar takeover and, every Sunday, the recently launched Seconds carvery will be there with a festive twist.

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Formaggi by Lazy Tony's Image: Freight Island/Mayfield Park

All of Freight Island’s existing traders will also be up and running as usual including: premium smashed burgers from Burgerism; giant 22” pizza and slices from Voodoo Ray’s; lasagne slabs from Lazy Tony’s Lasagnaria; award-winning curry pies from Patel’s Pies; tandoori and Indian street food from Payal; Venezuelan cuisine from Mia’s Arepas; pan-Asian cuisine from FUKU; Mediterranean street food from Mega Gyros; cheesecake on a stick from Oh My Cheesecake; and fries in a cone from Fry-By.

Freight Island’s Plant Room will be transformed into a wintery Grotto, where it will host the Visit Santa Experience; an interactive journey for children to visit Father Christmas and his Elves. The 30-minute experience is ticketed at £22.50 per child which includes a small Lego gift, a Lindt Chocolate and photo opportunity. Tickets are  available to book here and accompanying adults can attend free.

Over at The Mezz, the area will be transformed into a cosy Alpine Lodge in collaboration with Grey Goose perfect for your Christmas parties. Further festive programming at Winter Island includes Santa Paws dog show, wreath making workshop with Northern Lights, curated entertainment with DJs and live performances.

To book a table at Winter Island and find out more about what’s on, please visit

For Christmas bookings, larger parties, and private hire enquiries, please email A sit-down Christmas menu is available for a large booking of 20 people and more, £35 for a two-course meal and £40 for a three-course meal.

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Parmos with pigs in blankets from Parmogeddon Image: Freight Island/Mayfield Park

Follow Harley Young on X @Harley__Young

2023 09 22 Winter Island Smoking Coal German Bbq 02
Seasonal sausages from Smoking Coal Image: Freight Island/Mayfield Park

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