Christmas the Mancunian way

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Only an hour away from here by train is a multitude of stalls and chalets to keep you occupied with the shopping, eating and drinking on offer. The markets are in Manchester until December 21 so take a break from end of term essays and visit them to get yourself in a Christmassy mood.

If you do go on the train I would recommend starting in Albert Square, there is a huge Zippy dressed as Santa in front of the town hall so you can’t miss it. Once here you will find the most incredible Belgian chocolate muffins in the world. Ever. They are huge, covered in chocolate icing, and have three more chocolates on top, and at only £3, very student friendly.

Once you have made a general scene by dribbling all over yourself by getting chocolate all over your face, keep looking and you’ll see more culinary delights and businesses selling unique gifts that are ideal presents. Who doesn’t want a mug that says “And on the sixth day he made Manchester”? You can also get yourself some edible German fare if a Brätwurst or a mug of Glühwein, German mulled wine, take your fancy. There are also Christmas trees, sweet stalls and a stand selling microwaveable, lavender filled teddies, neck cushions and slippers if that’s your thing.

Once you’re finished there, you should work your way down to King Street, where there are French market stalls. It’s a cliché that the French make the best cheese, but very, very true. The delicious Camembert that I tried tasted so fresh that I wondered if there was a cow round the back and a man in a beret making. If you move down from the cheese there is Bistrot le Pétit Paris where you can have an authentic chocolat chaud and a sit down. Filter out the Mancunian accents of others sat around you and pretend you are in la belle Paris, cheese wheel and all.

Next, head to St. Ann’s Square, where there are stalls selling handmade jewellery, toys, candles, ornaments and other things in between. There are also some of my favourite chalets here: Amy Gibbing’s Photography, selling her beautiful black and white prints, and the handmade clock chalet which has some interesting and unusual offerings. Then at another stand some of the worlds finest musical talent has been immortalised in coaster sets of their records. Perfect if every time you put your cuppa down you want This Charming Man to be stuck in your head all day.

Cross the road and work your way along New Cathedral Street where there is more of the same on offer, and then you should be in front of Selfridges. This part has covered stalls as well as chalets and has the most variation in items for sale for in just this area you can buy puppets, fairy lights shaped like roses, hot chestnuts, pottery, fresh bread, scarves, cupcakes, hats that look like animals, a chocolate fountain, and there’s even a stall of bags each made entirely out of one zip. Also if you’ve saved room you can go to The Roast Hog and Bar and get yourself a roasted hog roll or baguette and have a drink. If you’d prefer something sweet then you must go to La Crêperie and have the mini Dutch Pancakes. They are completely delicious and a perfect way to round off a lovely shopping trip.

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