Finding the North Pole in Manchester…it’s up North! Close enough!
These past few weeks I’ve been bogged down with dissertation work and over time, so it’s fair to say that my Christmas Spirit has all but fizzled out. That was until me and the Ma’ took a road trip up to Manchester for the weekend to not only visit my sister, but to check out the wonder of Manchester’s Award Winning Christmas Markets, and do a spot of shopping in the Trafford Centre.
Manchester is a city with great energy and character, with a huge range of shops, trams, crowds, gay pride and historic buildings! As soon as we jumped on to the tram towards Piccadilly I wondered why I had been to visit my sister – and make use of her sofa – more often. The town centre was extremely busy, not too dissimilar to Oxford Street this time of year, and I even nearly got hit by a tram trying to sort out the exposure on my camera, which for me would have been a typical way to get run over.
As the sun started to set, and our stomachs started to rumble, we headed to the Christmas Markets. As soon we stepped out of the shopping centre, Christmas hits you in the face like the realisation on Christmas day when someone has spent a lot more on you than them! There was the sound of christmas carollers, a giant windmill like podium with moving toy soldiers, the scent of mulled wine and a choice of a pork roll or some german sausages. I’m not a huge fan of pork, and as soon as I saw an entire pig lade out, I decided I would live in ignorant bliss and have a german krakauer, and apart from having to eat it in the rain and getting covered in ketchup, it was lovely!
The lights of the markets really looked beautiful as the rain fell and the night sky opened up, and what also looks great in that scene is a choice of giant chocolate covered Marshmallows! I wish that I took a photo of these but unfortunately the rain was falling a bit too hard for me to take my camera out, but they were amazing! We got six for £4.00 – which, if you’ve been to a Christmas Market, was surprisingly cheap! My mum, sister and I all agreed to getting an Irish Cream flavour, then a Cherry, strawberry and Whisky flavour for my dad – but after they got crushed the next day we decided that it would be best just to eat them all…sorry Dad.
Our next stop, of course, was too the hut with a bar in it for some Mulled wine, because if there is one thing that the girls of the Winter family do best, it’s drink wine. We were given a cute little mug in the shape of a boot to drink our Mulled wine out of, it was either a £2.00 deposit or the choice to keep the mug for £2.00, I of course decided that I must own one at once – and on Christmas day I shall use no other cup!
The mulled wine was lovely and warming in the winter night, and the spices and flavours were so welcoming – a great choice for my first Mulled wine of the year! I have to say, it was much nicer than the mulled wine I had – and ended up throwing away – at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London, last year.
We then followed the crowd to some more, or as my sister but it, ‘the big’ stalls – I thought we’d seen it all! We then made our way round a much more varied German market, with everything from Reindeer antlers and hide, to garlic mushrooms, garlic on it’s own, jewellery, more mulled wine – ahem, cheese and fabrics. We then went into the historic town hall – which I thought was a church! – for some more stalls. These weren’t quite as exciting as the German markets, but it was nice to get out of the rain and the architecture was beautiful. We then finished our way around the markets, stopped for a drink – and loo break – at a bar called Duttons, and then made our way to a tapas bar, called Demetri’s, by the well known Hilton Hotel for some seafood tapas – and you guessed it, more wine! Then it was a stop off at a cocktail bar for last orders – and a festive toffee mojito – before turning in for the night, ready for another big day of shopping at the Trafford Centre.
Now, I will admit, I’ve never ventured up North much, and I didn’t really know much about the Trafford Centre except that it was a big shopping centre. But oh my was I wrong. It was like something out of Las Vegas! It wasn’t big, in fact it was ginormous!! We didn’t even get round the whole centre! There is the main shopping area, which has lots of shops including Selfridges, a huge John Lewis, Victoria Secret and also, a more budget friendly Topshop. There is also a magnificent food hall, which is shaped to look like New Orleans – town houses, a painted ceiling and even an eating area shaped like a giant boat. Jaw dropping to say the least! And if you turn the corner there is China town! It’s pretty insane. Unfortunately, as we had to head home that evening we didn’t get a chance to visit the sea life centre. That’s right, just a quick walk across the bridge – yes a bridge – and we could have gone to a sea life centre before heading to the other part of the shopping castle focusing on home furnishings.
I love Manchester and had a great weekend, if you’ve never been, or you’re visiting England, make sure you go! Lots of cities in England end up in London’s shadow, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Even if you just go to the Trafford Centre! My aim for next year though is to visit a real German market! Fingers crossed, and bank account stocked.