Christmas is fast approaching, and I always think that one of the best ways of knowing Christmas is just around the corner are the Manchester Christmas markets. In fact, they’re due to open on Friday 15 November, and will be here all the way up ‘til Sunday 22 December. Whilst there’s many students who moan about the markets, complaining they offer overpriced items, they’re WRONG. The Christmas markets actually offer good value for money for us students, and here are four reasons why:
Free, Fun Day Out
As I’m sure you’re all aware, actually getting into the markets themselves is free. It’s a great place for wandering around, whether you’ve got some time to kill or want to get in the festive spirit, and the atmosphere is great. With the Manchester markets offering over 300 stores, stretching all the way from Exchange Square, to St Anne’s Square and Albert’s Square, there’s lots of things to see. If you’re not a fan of crowds, try to avoid Saturdays and Sundays when the markets are at their busiest. Personally, I’d recommend going to the markets in the evenings when it’s cold and dark, with all the Christmas lights twinkling… just remember to wrap up warm!
Unusual Christmas Presents
Not sure what to get your parents this year? Sick of rolling out the same old box of chocolates and bottle of wine year on year? The Christmas markets offer great alternative presents, and if you listen out or show particular interest in buying a few items at one particular store, you can get lots of good deals. Here are two examples that happened to me at the markets in 2012:
During a visit from my parents, we stopped off at a Belgian stall and were given a goody bag full of festive treats ranging from waffles, cinnamon biscuits, cookies, chocolates and caramels for £10, when individually, the items added up to £30.
Whilst buying a Christmas present for my mum, I found a stall selling really sweet tea lights shaped as Christmas trees, penguins, polar bears etc… At £3 each, I bought three, only to be told I could get the third one free, thus reducing the cost from £9 to £6.
If you’re on the lookout for deals, my advice would be to go to the markets in their last trading week, when they want to sell as much as possible; and try and go at a quiet time, probably during the week. The market traders may not be as willing to give out massively-generous deals if they have to offer the same to ten other people and not just you.
The Manchester market in particular offers a wide range of food; not just the German Bratwurst, but paella, pasta, garlic bread, roast chicken, pork sandwiches… then the desserts: strudel, fudge, waffles, chocolate, gingerbread, cakes… and then the drinks: mulled wine, hot chocolate, German beer…
Now, this is where a lot of students get particularly feisty, arguing that the food is a complete rip off, but this isn’t the case. For just £4 you can get a paella that’s so big, you could comfortably eat half for dinner, then leave the rest for lunch the day after (just make sure you heat the rice thoroughly before eating!). Waffles are just £2 and are ridiculously filling… and there’s pick and mix deals to be had on most of the fudge and chocolates, so you can decide how much you want to spend. Plus, with a £2 deposit on mugs and £1 on glasses used for drinks, you can choose to take home a (really cheap!) souvenir back home with you.
Exciting Part-Time Jobs
Finally, with new stalls comes new jobs, and if you really enjoy Christmas time, then this is quite possibly the perfect job for you! Although the jobs have been taken now; over the past month or so, my University’s careers page has been full of part-time positions at the market, and the pay is good too at £10 an hour! With the average vacancy at 15 hours a week, that’s £750 in the five weeks up to Christmas – just imagine what you could spend that on!
And it’s not just Manchester where the Christmas markets are, either… growing in popularity over the last 10 years, you’ll find some kind of a Christmas market in practically every town and city in the country; just have a quick Google to find one near you!