Fancy a change from your usual meet-up at the Christmas markets? Try these for a different festive day out

It’s Christmas market season and the smell of sausages and temptation ambushes us every time we step off the tram. The Manchester Xmas Markets are now so big they're visible from the moon but what if you fancy something a little more intimate for your festive shopping-and-quaffing trip? 

Our dream Christmas market is a handful of snow-topped stalls, a couple of carol-singers, and sledges piled with gifts. And although it probably only exists on traditional German advent calendars we still live in hope of finding it in real life. 

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of local and alternative Christmas markets in or near Manchester, ranging from day trips to the hills to Friday nights snaffling stollen at Salford Quays. Fingers-crossed, they'll supply the cosy Xmas vibes we’re looking for. And if not, and it’s raining and chaotic and your bratwurst just fell in a puddle, simply go straight to the mulled wine stall. You'll soon start feeling the Christmas spirit.

And if markets aren't your thing, the Confidentials big fat Christmas round-up of the year should have everything you need to get through the festive season in style.

Father Christmas decoration at Quayside Xmas Makers Market
Room on the tree for one more? Image: Quayside Media City Makers Market

Quayside Xmas Makers Markets | outside The Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays | various dates

Salford Quays hosts this classic Christmas market every Friday night, Saturday and Sunday until 18 December. Tick off the trickiest names on your Xmas list with its selection of edible gifts, handmade cards, festive flowers, candles, jewellery and more. Fridays 4pm-9pm, Saturdays 10am-7pm. Sundays 11am-5pm.

Christmas tree on steps to Canton House Manchester for the Ancoats Pop Up Christmas Fair
Head to the Yang Sing for the Ancoats Pop Up fair Image: Ancoats Pop Up

Ancoats Pop Up Christmas Fair | Canton House, Chinatown | various dates

The regular Ancoats event has upped sticks and moved to Chinatown for this series of weekend Christmas fairs. You'll find two floors of stalls from local creatives plus entertainers, a cafe and a children’s play area. It's open weekends in November and December. 11am-4pm.

Hebden Bridge Christmas Tree
Hebden Bridge even looks festive in the rain Image: Visit Hebden (Rachel Driscoll)

Hebden Bridge Christmas Markets |St George’s Square Car Park | 26 and 27 November 2022

Hop on the train at Victoria for a trip into the hills to visit Hebden Bridge’s Christmas Markets. There’ll be over 60 stalls selling handcrafted gifts, artisan cakes, jewellery, homeware and more. Plus an international street food market including Ghanian, Jamaican and Serbian food. 9am-4pm.

Decorations and gifts from Bear Print Design at Macclesfield Treacle Market
Shop for locally-made crafts at Macclesfield's Christmas Treacle Market Image: Treacle Market / Bear Print Design

Macclesfield Christmas Treacle Market | Macclesfield Market Place | 27 November and 18 December 2022

A horse and carriage once shed its load of treacle on these cobbles and the name, like the substance, stuck. There’ll be two special Christmas editions of this monthly artisan market in November and December with crafts, vintage finds, food and drink, and who knows, maybe even a scattering of snow? 10am-3.30pm.

Christmas trees with a dusting of snow at Nixon Farm Shop, Heald Green
The night market at Nixon Farm Shop promises mulled wine and real Christmas trees Image: Nixon Farm Shop

Heald Green Festive Night Market | Nixon Farm Shop | 2 December 2022

A Christmas market at a farm shop? This is our kind of Friday night out. Head to Nixon's Farm Shop for locally-made gifts, foodie treats (turkey roll anyone?) and festive drinks. There’s also a kids play area in the barn and Christmas trees for sale. 4pm-8pm.

Close up of decorations for sale at Christmas Market
Heaton Park will be hosting its own Christmas Market this year Image: on Unsplash

Heaton Park Christmas Markets | Heaton Park | 3-4 December 2022

Follow a wintery walk in the park with a mooch around the Christmas market which will be held at Heaton Hall. Expect Manc-themed gifts, foodie treats, handmade cards and more. You could even combine it with a trip to Lightopia if you go towards the end of the day. 11am-4pm.

A tree decoration at Knutsford Christmas Market
Shop for tree trinkets at Knutsford Christmas Market Image: Knutsford Christmas Market

Knutsford Christmas Market |Princess Street and Silk Mill Street |3-4 December 2022

Get the train to Knutsford, a picturesque town in any season, but especially so at Christmas. Its narrow cobbled streets will be packed with stalls selling the finest food, drink, art, accessories and special gifts. There’ll be live music, a Santa’s grotto and a festive parade. Saturday 12pm-7pm, Sunday 11am-4pm.

Plant-based doughnuts from Dohlightful GRUB's Indie Christmas Market
Vegan doughnuts will be one of the delights on sale at GRUB's Indie Christmas Market Image: Dohlightful

Sustainable Indie Christmas Market | GRUB, Red Bank Project | 4 December 2022

If the consumerism of Christmas doesn’t sit right with you nowadays, here’s an alternative that might suit your values better. GRUB promise to deliver an eco-friendly, sustainable Christmas market starring local creatives and makers. Shop for everything from art to skincare to vintage fashion, while enjoying plant-powered street food and boozy winter warmers. 12pm-5pm.

Rustic handmade reindeer at Heatons Christmas Market
I'll take the whole herd Image: Heaton Moor Market

Heaton Moor Christmas Market | Shaw Road | 4 December 2022

Head to the Heatons in Stockport for their one-day ChristmasFest - which includes a festive market. Shop for Christmas goodies and gifts, visit Santa in his grotto, and join the lantern parade to St Paul’s Church for carols. That’s half our Christmas wish-list ticked off in one day. 10.30pm-5pm.

Girl holding mulled wine
Fastest route to feeling festive Image: Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Old Glossop Victorian Christmas Market | Old Glossop | 4 December 2022

Get the train from Piccadilly to Glossop and head to the pretty old town near Manor Park for its annual Christmas Market. Father Christmas says he's going, plus there'll be carol singing, live music and traditional clog dancing. 1pm-6pm.

Girl holding Christmas present wrapped in brown paper
There'll be gifts galore at Stockport Town Hall Photo by Skön Communication on Unsplash

Christmas Fayre Night | Stockport Town Hall | 8 December

"Join us for last-minute gift shopping" says their webpage, showing they have a very different notion of "last minute" to us. There’s nothing quite like charging round Boots at 5pm on Christmas Eve to focus your mind. Avoid that hellish scenario by going here instead for festive food, live music, and lots of twinkly Xmas stalls.  

Christmas market stall covered in toys and decorations
Head to Chetham's for handmade crafts and hot chocolate Image: Matt Seymour on Unsplash

Chetham’s Artisan Christmas Market | Stoller Hall, city centre | 11 December 2022

It’s the bumper Xmas edition of this regular showcase of the region’s best creatives, designers, producers and musicians. Everything is handmade and unique so it’s perfect gift-buying territory. Mulled wine, hot chocs and mince pies will be served while live music plays. Santa is expected to make an appearance. 10am-4pm

Main image: Makers Market

Read next: Confidential's big fat Christmas round-up of the year

Read again: The Visit: Ordsall Hall

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