Manchester’s Christmas Market is open once more, with a host of tasty treats to try and beautiful gifts to buy right on our doorstep. But let’s face it, although our markets are pretty amazing it can get a bit busy at times – sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere different.
Only an hour’s drive from Manchester (45 minutes by train) is a magical Christmas wonderland to experience. With festive events and independent retailers gathered in a 66,000sq foot open-courtyard, it feels as if you could be in an old town square in Belgium or Germany – in fact it’s what you’ll find in Halifax, just over the border in Yorkshire.
The town’s spectacular Piece Hall building is transformed at Christmas time with an ice rink (this year made from environmentally-friendly synthetic Glice), a vintage carousel and a huge tree decked out in sparkly lights. The space is used for events throughout the festive season, from the Winter Makers Markets to live gigs as well as traditional brass bands.
The Grade I listed building is the only remaining Georgian cloth hall in the world, dating from 1779 and it really does look like a piazza you’d expect to see in a European town or city. Halifax could easily double as a Christmas market in Vienna, yet it’s doable in a day.
There isn’t a Christmas market held in the square as such, but there are two Winter Makers Markets held on the weekends of November 11-13 and November 18-20, from 10am to 6pm each day. There are different traders each weekend selling local artisan products and presents. Shoppers can even enjoy food and drink from pop-up stalls as live musicians perform in the square.
Even if you can’t make it to one of the weekends, the Piece Hall’s resident retailers will operate as usual so there’s plenty of time to squeeze some Christmas shopping in. There are late night openings throughout December on Thursdays until 8pm too.
The ice rink will be open from December 1 to 31 with adult tickets costing £14 and children from £9.50. Or if you’re not brave enough to take to the ice, there’s always the vintage carousel.
Throughout December there are several craft workshops taking place at the Piece Hall, including a glass decorations workshop and wreath making, perfect for creating a unique gift for a friend or family member.
Another highlight of Halifax’s seasonal celebrations is the live entertainment at the Spiegeltent, a magnificent wooden structure with incredible decorations and a dancefloor. Spandau Ballet star Matin Kemp is headlining and although he has already sold out, there are lots of other acts you can still buy tickets for.
Or if that isn’t your cup of tea, there are showings of festive family favourites including The Polar Express and The Muppets Christmas Carol, as well as a silent disco and choir performances.
For more information on the events and to book tickets, visit the Piece Hall website.