Last weekend I visited the Christmas markets in Manchester with some friends. We go every year as one of our Christmas traditions. Usually Chickpea would come too but, at the last minute, a friend invited her for a sleepover and that was a more attractive proposition than shopping with Mum!
The markets have grown over the years and now take place in several locations around the city. We decided to start our explorations in Albert Square overlooked by Father Christmas outside the Town Hall.
The decorations would look better in the dark but I thought the trees still looked so pretty strung with lights. This view with the street lights and the town hall reminded me of France for some reason.
On the outer edge of the market were the plant stalls. The windmill might be a clue of the nationality of the stallholders!
I was very tempted by this little guy but I still had lots of gifts to buy at this point so had to leave him behind.
It was pretty chilly around the market despite it being absolutely packed with people. A hot warming drink was called for so we headed off to a quieter part of the market for a mug of Gluhwein (with an added shot of rum in mine!). The design of these mugs changes every year and they are very collectable. I preferred to hand it back for the return of my £2 deposit.
Just after this photo was taken, a black and orange ladybird landed on the mug and proceeded to run round and round the rim as if on a race track. I don't know what she was doing out in the cold but the fumes from the Gluhwein seemed to perk her up! She certainly kept us entertained for a few minutes before I had to brush her away so I could finish the wine.
Suitably refreshed, we headed off to St Ann's Square to see more of the stalls. This had some lovely glassware and I thought one would be perfect for a friend.
Talking of propellors, this enormous version was outside Selfridges and there was another one near the Town Hall.
Our house is still a relatively Christmas-free zone other than the chocolate advent calendar. Next weekend we'll be putting up the decorations and then it will be countdown to the big day!