We headed over to Manchester the other weekend to try some festive food, check out the Christmas markets and bask in the glow of some twinkly lights.
Whether you live north or south, I think Manchester is a great place to visit for a weekend if you fancy trying a city that has a real identity of its own. With an enviable music culture and a cool, urban edge, Manchester also has a history and charm to it that draws on its heritage as a great industrial city. And Manchester folk, while fiercely proud of their individuality are warm, friendly and eager to share their city with everyone. As well as a fab range of shops, bars, restaurants and music venues there are also some great hotels in Manchester, so you can make a proper weekend of it.
Since we’re not too far away, we popped over the pennines to shake things up a bit and spend some time in a great city with the kids. We started off in the northern quarter (the best place for cheap parking as well as a host of independents) and tried to find somewhere nice for a bite to eat. I wanted to take the kids to one of my favourites like Fig & Sparrow or Evelyn’s but we misjudged the fact that on a Sunday lunchtime you probably need to book ahead for a family of five like ours. Any other time, they are gorgeous spaces with great interiors and food to match. I like Fress, which has a contemporary Art Deco feel or you could also try Pot, Kettle, Black in Barton Arcade (a beautiful example of Victorian architecture in itself) for all day brunch and good coffee, nestling side by side with a beautiful Italian deli, a hipster barber shop (it was open on a Sunday afternoon!) and even a pop-up bar called Glogg selling a range of different mulled wines and prosecco.
In the end we plumped for a family-friendly feed at Zizzi’s on Piccadilly which still had a lovely festive atmosphere but also the space to accommodate us. Having fuelled up with pizza and pasta (and bit of fizz for me), dusk was just starting to settle on the city and it was the perfect time to wander down to the Christmas markets around St Anne’s Square where the lights were really starting to twinkle.
I always think Christmas markets are a great way to get you in the festive mood and ease you gently towards full on ho-ho-ho mode, which I hope to have achieved within a week or two. I’m always excited by the array of continental foods and can’t help treating myself to a little paper cornet of caramelised cashews which I know I can get any time of year but just taste right in December. The kids were also wide-eyed at all the sweets and toffee apples, chocolate covered marshmallows and sweet-smelling crepes – perfect if you’ve saved room for pudding! We were talked into buying them a metre of flavoured liquorice (don’t ask) but it kept them all quiet on the cosy nighttime drive home. And, well, twinkly lights. You can’t beat ’em can you?
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post. Hotels.com gifted us spending money to enjoy our day in Manchester, but all views are my own, as always.