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Mugged off in Manchester


Before I start, you aren’t about to face a violent attack in the UK’s friendliest city! You aren’t about to get mugged – unless, of course, you state that you’re loyal to the blues on red territory…that might be a little bit dangerous! Yeah, maybe you’re best avoiding football banter. Save it for the pitch.

Anyway, the whole ‘mugging’ thing at Manchester Markets is a relatively new yet much-loved tradition. It’s funky, it’s cool, it’s everything Manchester is known to be. It’s a unique little quirk that is so specific to the city, I doubt it could really work anywhere else. I’ll give you a clue – it involves art and a warm brew.

It’s ‘lights, carols, action’ when it comes to Christmas in Manchester’s Albert Square. The usually Gothic and looming Town Hall feasts on festivity with dazzling lights, decorations, and an enormous Santa Claus who looks down, waving at the little wooden world beneath him. These welcoming huts offer an eclectic mix of warming mulled wine, Bratwurst and hot Vimto (hey, would it even be Manchester if there wasn’t any?)

This festive season marks twenty years since the markets first came to Manchester and they only seem to get bigger, better and more popular with each passing year. Last year, Manchester Christmas Markets were voted the best in the UK in an online poll and named the most popular in Europe among Instagram users. Not bad going, considering they only launched in 1999 in one city centre site.

This is mainly down to the city’s embrace of a hugely international approach to the festive fun, especially when compared to the more authentic types of Christmas Markets across the rest of the UK. The food and gifts on sale in Manchester come from all corners of the globe.

Soak up the atmosphere and follow the Market trail; it is of huge scope these days. It is no longer restricted to one place. The Manchester Christmas Market now spreads over several streets, winding through the city to take in 10 different locations. With up to 300 stalls selling their produce and offering delights and delicacies, everything from fine amber jewellery, French organic soaps and handcrafted snow globes are available for you to look at. If you’re something of a Late Christmas Shopper, take note: you can snatch up some gifts for your nearest and dearest at an excellent price, here. Better late than never, right?

The whole ‘mugging’ thing comes from…well…quite literally, the mugs. Manchester Christmas Market has a special design for their mugs every year. The combination of creative arts and hot drinks? How very Manchester!

When buying a hot chocolate or mulled wine at one of the many wooden huts that make up the market, you can get one of these mugs yourself. You pay £2.00 as a deposit when buying a drink. If you decide to keep your mug, you just keep it as a little souvenir from your trip to Manny Market. If you want your money back, you can return it back to the stall again. But where’s the fun in that? Because the designs change every year, you can start a fun little collection of your own Manchester Christmas Market mugs!

Christmas markets with a funky, distinctively Manchester twist…what’s not to love? Don your Santa hat, dust off the fairy lights, and get into the festive spirit with a creative, collectible mug. Whatever you fill it with – mulled wine, tea, or gravy (this is the North, after all!), it’s bound to be the best souvenir you could possibly take home with you. A hot drink in a creative mug – it’s as Manchester as Manchester can possibly get. All we need now is Liam Gallagher dressed as Father Christmas belting out a cheesy Christmas hit…yep, then it would be Christmas in Manchester!

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