Christmas is a magical time of year in Manchester. The city center is festooned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. The city is dotted with no less than 8 Christmas markets, and you can visit them all: just go for a leisurely wander from Cathedral Gardens to Albert Square. You will find delicious food, mulled wine and many stalls selling crafts, gifts and handmade objects. These Manchester markets are full of great Christmas ideas.
An imposing Gothic revival building with a large clock tower, the Manchester Town Hall is a major landmark in the city center. This impressive monument of Victorian architecture was built by Alfred Waterhouse. Look out for the worker bee in the mosaic floor of the Great Hall: it's a symbol of the city. There's a cafe in the lobby which is a nice place to stop for afternoon tea.
Built to house one of the finest collections of rare and ancient books in the world, the John Rylands Library in Manchester is a must-see. Step into this neo-Gothic building which now belongs to the University of Manchester, and marvel at the collections of literature and manuscripts. Regular exhibitions are held here but it's also a lovely place for a quiet pause during a busy day of sightseeing.
With classic musicals, new plays and shows on the program, the Manchester Opera House offers entertainment for all. Check what's on at the Opera House in advance and book tickets from the box office website. Located right in the center of town on Quay Street this neoclassical building is part of the fabric of cultural life in Manchester.
Manchester's world class art gallery boasts a superb collection of art by local and international artists, from the 17th century right up to the present day. The Manchester Art Gallery has a particularly fine pre-Raphaelite collection, as well as a fascinating costume section, with over 21,000 items of clothing and accessories from over the centuries.
Housed in an ornate Victorian building that used to be the city's fish market, the Manchester Craft and Design Center is now home to an eclectic mixture of artists who create and sell their works in little individual studios. It's an ideal place to look for something unique to take home as a souvenir or gift, such as an piece of handmade jewelry, ceramics, glass or some artwork for your walls. There's a cute cafe on site, too.