THERE’S still 25 partying days to Christmas as we update our compilation of all the fun festive hang-outs. We’ve even included some indie retail opportunities, sensing panic and guilt are only just around the corner.
ToM is avoiding the perils of ice rinks (A&E fears) and Gluhwein/Dutch waffle combos (dyspepsia alert). Instead you’ll find us cosying up in a teepee, igloo or Alpine hut. We might even be tempted to a spot of Carol-oke after a Negroni or two. Which kicks us off nicely in Spinningfields, which offers a wealth of alternatives to the Christmas Markets proper in St Ann’s Square, Albert Square, Market Street, Exchange Square, Cathedral Gardens and, for the first time, Piccadilly Gardens.
BAR HÜTTE – CHALET LIFE WITH CAROL-OKE
Carol-oke they call it – rustic, twinkly Alpine huts in Spinningfields Square, each with it sown karaoke machine to let you unleash your festive favourites. Bookings include table service from the Après-Ski Bar, which will offer a menu of classic cocktails and seasonal specialities including hot winter G&Ts. Reservations can be made can be made for slots of an hour and three quarters for groups of six to 10 people, with a non-refundable reservation fee of £45. Larger parties can reserve a VIP Hütte for up to 20 guests for a deposit of £200, which can be put towards any food and drink packages, plus a £100 booking fee. Those without reservations can enjoy drinks at main bar. Book here.
THE TAVERN, SPINNINGFIELDS
Step into leafy Hardman Square to enjoy the latest wheeze by the creators of ‘The Lawn Club’. Open from 12pm until late, this pop-up log cabin is serving authentic(ish) German dishes, including bratwurst and chicken schnitzel alongside warm cider, hot cocktails and beer served in Bavarian steins. For more information follow @TavernMCR on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
CUROUS TEEPEE, SPINNINGFIELDS
Just around the corner this magical marquee at the Oast House in The Avenue Courtyard has become a festive fixture with its formula of fire pits, fur throws, festive fairy lights and warming drinks. You can book it for private functions; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ENCHANTED FOREST AT 20 STORIES, SPINNINGFIELDS
Two giant snow globes have taken over the roof terrace at 20 Stories for a new seasonal theme in a partnership with Moët & Chandon. Expect a forest of festive foliage plus blankets and additional outdoor heaters. The winter garden-themed rooftop (our main image) is offering seasonal drinks, plus a new cocktail menu and a dedicated Moët menu. Group bookings can be made for the ‘Into The Woods’ themed roof terrace for party sizes of between six and 70; email email@example.com
NORTH AND SOUTH POLE AT THE IVY, SPINNINGFIELDS
For the festive season the glamorous venue on Byrom Street has transformed its Roof Garden’s North and South terraces into the North and South Pole, complete with warming winter dishes and themed cocktails. The North Pole terrace offers a woodland escape, while the South Pole features nods to ice and Antarctica. Created in collaboration with Veuve Clicquot the cocktails include a ‘Winter Garden’(£13.25) incorporating Whitley Neil Rhubarb & Ginger, Luxardo Maraschino, liqueur, Monin sugar, lemon juice, apple juice, lavender bitters and Champagne. Worth a Polar exploration.
IGLOOS BACK AT REFINERY
Faux fur blankets and fairy lights deck the familiar igloos outside the XYZ building in Spinningfields. Snow Queen vodka are behind the pop-up, and will have special cocktails and snacks on offer throughout their stay, including pigs in blankets, mini cheeseburgers, and wild mushroom Yorkshire puds. Each igloo accommodates up to eight people if you're dining, or 10 in for just drinks and nibbles, with full table service in each. Bookings are available in two-hour slots, seven days a week, at 1.15pm, 1.30pm, 3.30pm, 3.45pm, 5.45pm, 6pm, 8pm, and 8.15pm. There are two igloos available for hire – to reserve one it’s a minimum spend of £200 on food and drink. you’ll need to spend a minimum of £200 on food and drink to reserve one. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE LODGE AT FIRST STREET
First Street has a long way to catch up with Spinningfields, but the city’s newest neighbourhood brings us this 150-person Nordic winter tipi providing a range of Nordic-style beers and a mix of hot drinks, served alongside food that includes Yorkshire pudding wraps. Refreshingly The Lodge is also doubling up as a flexible event venue – offering craft, arts and sustainability-themed workshops, as well as wellness classes and family-focused events. Expect ABBA (or reggae) yoga make your own wrapping paper workshops, trainer repairs and more. The Lodge, a collab with on-site operator Gasworks Brewbar – will be in situ at First Street until the New Year.
BRRR THRILLS AT THE ICE TIKI BAR
This bar serving tropical cocktails in sub-zero temperatures is in the Ice Village in Cathedral Gardens, so officially part of the Christmas Markets. Guests will be given thermal capes to keep them warm inside the frozen venue, which will be chilled to -8ºC. Ice sculptures of Easter Island's monolithic Moai statues decorate the bar. Cocktails including supersized ice bowls to share will be available to buy along with warming shots and fruity mocktails. Admission is £15, to include one cocktail or mocktail in an ice glass. The Ice Village, also home to an under cover ice rink, a slide and an ice cavern featuring frozen sculptures of mythical beasts will run until January 5.
GLOBAL WINTER WARMER IN THE GARDENS
Making its debut in the new Piccadilly Gardens market site, the giant Snow Globe dome bar will offer gin hot toddies and other seasonal specialities under a transparent canopy with twinkling fairy lights. Regular live music sessions kick off on Saturday, November 9 with an ompah band as well as choral performances from Longford Community Choir and League of Ladies WI Choir. Tickets cost £12 plus booking fees. Buy them here.
GET YOUR SKATES ON AT MEDIA CITY
The new Ice Rink at MediaCityUK also includes a Christmas Market and light festival plus “The Retreat” – a winter cabin offering treats for skaters and non-skaters alike. The family-friendly 500sq ft ice rink accommodate up to 200 skaters at one time. After which the fairy-lit cabin offers warm nooks with access to hot cider, mulled wine, draught beers, wines, soft drinks, teas, coffees, hot Vimto on tap and hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream. The Retreat is open to all, not just skaters. The Rink will run until January 5. Prices for an hour’ skating are £13 for adults and £11 for children with a family of four special ticket £40. To check times and book visit this link.
EVERGREEN: FESTIVAL OF WINTER AND XMAS AT HATCH
Running until Christmas Eve, this jolly affair down on Oxford Road, under the Mancunian Way, offers a host of family-friendly events, super food and drink opportunities and indie craft shops to seek out a more individual gifts. There’s even late night Christmas shopping with entertainment each Thursday until 8pm. There’s an abundance of food and drink opportunities among the 31 independent traders on site, plus blankets and heating to keep you toasty in the festive domes. The mini-restaurants could prove perfect for a more intimate Christmas lunch. Read our complete Evergreen rundown here.
NOMA HELP LAUNCH INDIE CHRISTMAS DEPARTMENT STORE
Back to last minute retail therapy with a difference. For the last four years Rob Evans and Chris Roberts from With Love Project have been searching out brands with passion and purpose. Now, with the help of NOMA, they will be transforming a space in the Dantzic – a refurbed 1930s warehouse behind the Printworks –into a unique six week pop-up department store. On offer products from £5-£5,000 such as one off pieces of furniture; British made trainers; tea hampers from an English tea plantation; lamps made in Manchester; seaweed infused rum from Wales; and glasses from Scotland. The store is open Wednesday- Saturday 12pm-7pm until December 21, while each Thursday it will extend until 9pm to host a series of different interactive workshops and activities ranging from beer and cocktail tasting to live drawing and talks.