• Our guide to festive pop ups and seasonal reasons to visit Manchester this winter

Our guide to festive pop ups and seasonal reasons to visit Manchester this winter

5 November 2021 by Deanna Thomas

Our inbox is bursting with more Christmas fun than an overstuffed cracker, so we’ve decided to round up the best events, pop ups, markets, takeovers and festive things to do and wrap them up in one twinkly guide.

Manchester’s bars, restaurants, hotels and event spaces have arranged a whole ho-ho-host of Christmas themed offerings with loads of things to buy, eat, drink and do. All across the city you’ll find markets, winter villages, pop ups, performances, cocktails, nibbles and ice rinks, so you’d better get your skates on if you plan to tackle all these before the New Year.


What: Manchester Christmas Markets 

Where: Piccadilly Gardens, Market Street, Exchange Square, Cathedral Gardens, St Ann’s Square, King Street… they’re pretty much taking over the city to be fair…

When: From 12th November - 22nd December. The Winter Gardens in Piccadilly Gardens will run until 3rd January 2022

Piccadilly Gardens will become the hub for Manchester Christmas Markets as Albert Square has been taken over by the Town Hall renovations until 2024. A new family-friendly Winter Gardens attraction will be packed with yuletide bars, festive food operators, marquee covered seating, craft stalls and – for the first time – there’ll be a stage with live music and DJs. 

The numbers of visitors will be strictly controlled in this area with one-way routes and separate entrances and exits helping people remain socially distanced. Manchester’s world-famous Christmas Markets will also return across another six city centre squares and various streets.

Cathedral Gardens will return as the family friendly area with Skate Manchester’s ice rink, food and drinks stalls and entertainment every week from Thursday through to Sunday, including kids shows. Manchester’s Giant Santa will take pride of place in the city centre, along with a trail of light sculptures taking visitors on an illuminated trip around the city. Read more HERE


What: The Winter Village

Where: Ramona and The Firehouse, 40 Swan Street M4 5JG

When: From the 4th November at Ramona from Wednesdays to Sundays from midday - midnight and The Firehouse from Thursday - Sunday till 1am at the weekends. 

All 10,000sq ft of Manchester’s Detroit pizzeria has been transformed into a new seasonal party destination. The former MOT station and warehouse depot is now a festive urban utopia of tequila cabins, firepits, live music stages and dance tents serving winter cocktails, hot chocolate and mulled wine. A mini festive market at the entrance has local indie retailers and boutique brands for a spot of Christmas shopping whilst you party. 

Ramona have joined forces with Patron Tequila to create the ultimate Christmas cocktail menu alongside fresh campfire margaritas and tequila table service. On Wednesdays at Ramona you can Margarita till Midnight for £5 per drink. Not drinking? Try the hot chocolate of the season ‘The Fluffernator’ with toasted Italian meringue, Detroit cookie and white chocolate and salted caramel.

All spaces across The Firehouse and Ramona can be booked for unforgettable Christmas parties and gatherings. 


What: Miracle on Cross Street

Where: The venue can be accessed via the same entrance as Salt Dog Slim’s on Bow Lane. 

When: From Wednesday 17th November until 30th December (closed on Christmas Day)

The popular Xmas pop-up ‘Miracle on Seel Street’ has been a seasonal feature in Liverpool city centre since 2017, but now it will be bringing its Christmas joy to Manchester too with drinks, nibbles and festive films.

The grotto for grown-ups will be adorned in festive fairy lights, tinsel, and a Christmas tree that’s bursting with baubles, stockings, snowflakes and candy canes. Miracle on Cross Street will also be hosting special Christmas movie nights. Read more HERE.


What: Bar Hütte

Where: Great Northern Square

When: From Thursday 4th November until Sunday 9th January 2022

This festive mini resort will feature holiday style chalets both indoors and outdoors. Each alpine winter haven comes complete with cosy furnishings, twinkling lights, live music sessions, drinks flowing and the chance to sing your heart out in your own private hut.

Read more about it HERE.


What: Winter Island

Where: Escape to Freight Island, Depot Mayfield

When: From 5th November - 31st December. Ice rink open from Friday 12th November

Manchester’s two month-long winter wonderland will feature a Christmas tree forest and a host of new festive traders and stalls, including Great North Pie Co., a bratwurst grill, traditional hog roast, a mulled wine and hot cider hut, a local chocolatier and an artisanal cheese stall – everything you could wish for as the winter nights draw in and the countdown to Christmas kicks into action.

It will also feature a boutique ice rink in the sky, located on the concretene mezzanine inside Escape to Freight Island with remarkable views. This forms part of a semi self-contained winter village, where food and drinks from Winter Island can be pre-ordered - from mulled wine and festive beer, to grilled bratwurst and hog roast sandwiches. Read more HERE


What: The NQ Grotto

Where: Ducie Street Warehouse

When: 4th, 11th, 18th and 19th December

Ducie Street Warehouse will transform into a fairy tale land, known as Mancunia, as it presents an immersive 60 minute Christmas performance in the towering heights of the Atrium at Native Manchester featuring a dance with the Ice Princess, singalong with Mrs Claus, story time by the Snow Queen, fun time with Brother & Sister Elves, Holly & Ivy – and of course, meet with the Big Man, Santa Claus himself.

The family-friendly event is set within the warehouse-chic surroundings of the Grade II listed building, where guests can grab comfortable floor cushions and sit together. Alongside the Grotto experience, there will be food stalls in the atrium available with festive food and drink from Ducie Street Warehouse.

Each day’s 60-minute session commences at 10:00, 11:45, 13:30, 15:14 and 17:00. Priced at £12 for adults and £10 for children and free for children under 2. Tickets can be purchased HERE


What: Witch Kings Rum Winter Bohemia Wonderland pop up

Where: Affinity Living Riverview, Spinningfields

When: Open daily from 11am-8pm, from Wednesday 10th to Sunday 28th November

The adventurous local spirits brand is hosting this festive pop-up with craft rum cocktails, mocktails, local beers and ciders. There’s a warming hot pot menu with homemade dumplings and artisan bread from The Flat Baker along with a selection of daily cakes and brownies.

Try four unique cocktails designed around Witch Kings ‘Craft Rum Liqueur’ - Antimatter, Bohemian Dreams, Sunset Solstice and Fires of the Wild. Each Monday the venue goes booze free with a selection of mocktails. Guest vendors will offer an exciting range of local food and drink on ‘Friendly Thursdays’. Friday and Saturday nights will play host to an eclectic mix of live music, providing soulful, laid back, jazzy vibes. A Witch Kings Rum bottle shop will stock the full range of Witch Kings Rum liqueurs making the perfect Christmas gifts. 

Tables are £5 pp to secure the booking for at least 90 minutes and includes a welcome drink. Entry is free for walk-ins but does not guarantee a table. Book HERE


What: The Winter Garden Markets

Where: Platt Fields Market Garden, Fallowfield 

When: Every Saturday and Sunday from Saturday 13th November until Sunday 19th December, 12pm - 7pm

On winter weekends in this much loved local community garden you will find local makers, gifts and crafts, hot and cold food and drinks, kids’ activities, workshops, winter trail, bar serving boozy hot chocs, mulled wine and more all under a huge, cosy marquee with seating, heaters and live music throughout the day.

Meet crafts folk and producers from the local community who will be selling their wares and visit stalls manned by local community organisations. Find out more HERE


What: Harvey Nichols pop up store

Where: Deansgate Square

When: From 5th November – 8th January 2022 from 11.30am until 8.00pm every day. Christmas activity on the Square will run from 27th November – 22nd December 2021

The top end department store and food hall Harvey Nichols will open a pop-up store at Deansgate Square featuring an exclusive edit of seasonal products for residents, visitors and shoppers. You can find luxury wines and spirits, festive hampers, beauty stocking fillers, candles and home fragrance gifts.

A festive ‘Tipi Hub’, opening on November 27th, will feature central fire pits and will be adorned with Christmas trees and festive lighting. The Pop Up Club will bring 30 designer makers, selling high quality Christmas gifts and homeware and local Deansgate Square operator, Italian restaurant Salvi’s, will offer the very best in authentic Italian food and drink. 

Across December, another operator, General Store, will be popping up a retail location outside their Deansgate Square Store, showcasing their local partnerships and selling Christmas trees.


What: Winter Terrace

Where: Dakota Hotel

When: From 15th November

This year, Dakota Manchester is launching the hotel’s first Festive Terrace Menu where guests can sit in stylish surroundings and enjoy a selection of German-inspired small plates, snacks, sides and seasonal cocktails. Served on the hotel’s luxury outdoor heated winter terrace which has been festooned with atmospheric twinkly lights, the menu is perfect for sharing with friends over a glass of fizz or a festive cocktail. Enjoy the likes of pigs in blankets, currywurst, bratkartoffeln (German fries), knoblauchrot (German garlic bread) and chicken schnitzel. 

More information can be found HERE


What: Foodie Festivities with a touch of 80’s nostalgia

Where: Hatch, Oxford Road

When: From Friday 12th November until 31st December

Enjoy a sleigh-load of festive offerings from Manchester’s independent urban food, drink and retail destination. This year, Hatch will transport customers back to a different era with an 80s themed Christmas transformation. Expect a healthy dose of neon and nostalgia with a retro mix of fluorescent lights and disco baubles alongside the traditional Christmas trees and candy canes, Christmas Carols and brass bands. 

There’ll be lots of festive specials available from German Bratwursts to festive desserts, Pigs in Blankets and deep fried stuffing as well as plant-based alternatives with all the trimmings. Festive drinks include Christmas themed beers and there will be mulled wine and hot cider a-plenty as well as a brand new Christmas cocktail menu at the on site Hatch bars. 

Hatch also offers all the benefits of a Christmas shopping experience in a relaxed environment with some amazing independent retail traders on-site. From vintage finds to vinyl records, handmade liqueurs, handmade jewellery and even comic books. With over 30 independent traders, Hatch is open seven days a week from 12PM - midnight, with 1am finish on the weekends. To book a table or make an event inquiry, visit hatchmcr.com.


Also read - CitySuites' Embankment Kitchen launches a special festive menu