Manchester is one of the most popular Christmas destinations in the UK, and year after year the city blows it out of the park when it comes to festive activities. 

With a world-famous Christmas Market, delicious seasonal grub, magical light shows, marvellous shopping opportunities, and plenty of things to do and see, it’s no wonder that people come from all over the globe to celebrate Christmas in Manchester. 

Whether it’s exploring the hundreds of stalls for something special, enjoying some mulled wine with your friends or taking in the amazing festive entertainment, you can be rest assured that Christmas in Manchester will be special! 

If you’re after some inspiration for things to do to get in the festive spirit this year, we’ve got just the thing for you, with a full guide to celebrating Christmas in Manchester. 

The best part? They’re not far from your Manchester accommodation, so you’ll have some fantastic things on your doorstep this winter. 

Manchester christmas 2023

1. Manchester Christmas Markets 

Taking place from the 10th of November until the 21st of December, the Manchester Christmas Markets are a rite of passage for students after some festive fun. 

A staple of Christmas in Manchester since 1993, the iconic markets have expanded each year, with this year seeing over 225 stalls across nine sites for the 25th anniversary – it’s going to be special! 

You and your friends can wrap up warm and head to Piccadilly Gardens for the Winter Gardens, or check out the iconic ski chalet market stalls at Market Street, Cathedral Gardens, Exchange Street, New Cathedral Street, St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, The Corn Exchange and King Street.

It’s no wonder that the Manchester Christmas Markets were voted the best in Europe, with hundreds of stands offering homemade crafts, gifts, garments, food and drink and more. 

There’s even an ice skating rink so you can show off your skates, along with a giant Nordic-themed double tipi bar, and live entertainment. 

For more information and a map of the Manchester Christmas Markets for 2023, click here


Dates: 10 November – 21 December. 

2. Quayside Media City Christmas Market 

If you’re a student in Salford, one thing you don’t want to miss out on this winter is the Quayside Media City Christmas Market.

The Quayside Media City Christmas Market is running every weekend until the 17th of December, so there’s no better time to celebrate the end of a busy week. 

You can make the most of plenty of shopping opportunities with 80 stalls offering everything from local artwork handmade jewellery to sweet treats to festive candles. 

The markets are sure to be brimming with Christmas fun, with tasty food and drink, fun-filled entertainment and DJs spinning the best tunes. 


Dates: 18 Nov 2023 – 17 Dec 2023

3. Piccadilly Gardens Christmas Lights 

This festive season, head to Piccadilly Gardens to marvel at the iconic Christmas tree, giant Santa, illuminated sculptures and buildings.

How does gathering with your besties by the amazing Christmas lights with a mug of mulled wine and a Yorkshire pudding wrap sound? What a dream! 

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year,  with festive sight-seeing to experience on every corner of the city centre, and plenty of Insta photo opportunities. 

So, ditch the studying and gather up your besties for an unforgettable evening seeing the twinkling lights and displays in action! 



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A post shared by Manchester’s Finest (@mcrfinest)

Dates: 10 November – 21 December. 

4. Christmas Parade 

If you’re looking for something free to do with your uni friends this winter, why not check out the Manchester Christmas Parade? 

Starting at 1pm on Sunday December 11th, this exciting event will be taking place in Deansgate, St Ann’s Street, Cross Street and St Mary’s Gate.

There will be a giant snow globe, arctic fox puppet, enchanted walking trees, spectacular characters and magical performances. 

After the parade has finished, you and your friends could head to one of the city’s best-loved bars for some festive tipples, or head back to your student flat for a Christmas movie marathon!


Dates: 11th December 

5. Winter Island 

This Christmas step into the immersive world of Manchester’s Winter Island, the UK’s largest heated outdoor and indoor winter festival. 

Situated at Escape to Freight Island, at Winter Island you can experience Father Christmas at The Grotto, fantastic entertainment, enjoy Christmas street-food as well as the smoking coal German BBQ. 

Not to mention, there’s also a wreath making workshop with Northern lights, pop-up shops and more, so it’s sure to be an exciting event. 

Winter Island is open from the 12th of November until the 24th of December, so get your booking sorted with your besties and make some amazing memories! 

Please note, tables and roller skating are required to be booked separately on the Escape to Freight Island website.



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A post shared by Freight Island (@freightislandmcr)

Dates: 12th November – 24th December 

So there we have it, how to celebrate Christmas 2023 in Manchester, it’s safe to say there’s absolutely tons of exciting things to do this season!

Happy Christmas season to all of our lovely tenants and landlords, we hope you have a magical time. 

We’ll be hosting festive-themed events and activities in our X1 properties, so you’re sure to be entertained this Christmas. 

Don’t forget to tag us in any of your festive photos if you do any of these activities we’ve listed, we’d love to hear from you! @x1salesandlettings.

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