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Manchester Victorian Christmas Market

The Castlefield Market holes up for the winter

Written by . Published on November 25th 2013.

Manchester Victorian Christmas Market

YOU COULD say that it’s impossible to swing an elf for fear of hitting a market at any given spot in Manchester city centre this winter.

The market is by no means a whopper. You could certainly make your way around in less than five minutes, should you be in a hurry that is. But why would you be? It’s not that type of affair

Breathe in: Albert Square, Corn Exchange, Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, Exchange Street, St Ann's Square, King Street, Brazennose Street, Corporation Street, Spinningfields Avenue, Piccadilly Gardens, Greengate Urban Market and now the Manchester Victorian Christmas Market, which is, in effect, the Castlefield Market (the one formerly beneath the arches by Dukes92) holed up for winter. Breathe out.

View from the HiltonView from the Hilton

Manchester has seen more stall action recently than Dot Cotton. Does she work on the market? A laundrette? It doesn’t matter, you get the analogy.

If you’re one of the brave and hearty thousands that have greased yourselves up and squeezed into the frantic hustle-bustle of the city’s official Christmas Markets, and somehow managed to eke out an inch of space for yourselves in which to spend seven hours waddling around the aisles, glancing at stalls but never quite making it there before the lurch of the people wave carries you off again, then first and foremost, well done. You made it out.

Secondly, you may now be hankering after a more serene affair. A festive market experience in which chewing the hair from the back of a stranger’s head is not part and parcel. Fear not, there are alternatives. And not too far away to boot.

The tree takes centre stageThe tree takes centre stage

The Manchester Victorian Christmas Market has set up shop on the corner of Liverpool Road and Deansgate, opposite the Hilton Hotel, in the splendid Victorian Upper Campfield Market hall, sister of the Museum of Science and Industry’s Lower Campfield Market hall, home to the museum’s Air and Space Hall. Both were constructed in the late 1870s.

That’s a lot of halls to take in, but this one has a couple of conspicuous bulb-lit glowing signs outside, making the market easier to find than a Reindeer burger in Norway.

On the inside the market feels as though someone has popped a country fete into an airport hanger. The airy cast-iron ceiling with partly-glazed windows and corrugated sheeting make the scutterings and trade-offs below seem inconsequential, yet, antithetically, all the more personal than the enclosed and hectic goings-on outside Town Hall.

Market stallMarket stall

All too often, markets get fobbed off with this simple tagline: Arts, crafts, music, fashion and food. It’s boring, lazy, a cut and paste job that covers practically every market ever. So you’re not going to get fobbed off, you’re going to get an exhaustive and hefty list of everything we saw. Eh hem:

A lady reading tarot cards, craft beer, a War of the Worlds vinyl record, mulled wine, homemade goulash, vintage dresses for £10, pecan and parsnip cake, a man in a top hat, English lavender cushions, Greek gyros, an old withered wooden mirror, pie and custard, sport bags from the 1982 World Fair, cheese and crackers, craft cider, china teapots and crockery, cherry liquor served in mini chocolate cups, glass tankards, real fur coats for £70, Christmas stockings, personalised stitched pillows, ham and cheese crepes, gold photo frames, trilby hats, Black Cat coffee (served by a beautiful brunette, which helps), curd, cake stands, tweed jackets, a Fanny Bramble cocktail, a bird cage, sheepskin coats, handmade greetings cards, knitted babywear, homemade Cantonese sweet chilli fish sauce, leather boots, silk scarves, framed photography and artwork, recycled nomadic rugs, feather boas and more old jewellery and trinkets than you’d find at my Granny Pegs.

Victorian? Still, who caresVictorian? Still, who cares

Bits and bobsBits and bobs

Yes, you could say that food from ‘Saigon Delights’ and sportswear from 1982 are about as Victorian as an iPad. True. But the Victorian arcade hall that hosts the Victorian Market could barely be more Victorian so, to be frank, they could be shifting robots and laser scopes and it’d still technically be a Victorian Market. Humbug.

And yes ‘Artisanal’ is an ominous name to have hovering above any entranceway. We don’t have an answer for this one. It refers to that which relates to an artisan (a craftsperson). Still, don’t trust it.


The market is by no means a whopper. You could certainly make your way around in less than five minutes, should you be in a hurry, that is. But why would you be? It’s not that type of affair. There’s no rush, no mad push, no need to wing your way around 37 locations in less than an hour desperately attempting to soak up every last sprinkling of festive merriment.

Browse the stalls, have a cuppa, sit yourself down in an armchair, browse some more, try on a fur coat, have a mulled wine, maybe even a slice of cake. Relax. Remember: this isn’t Albert Square so you’re allowed to relax.

Open every day from 10am – 8pm until Sunday 22 December

Follow the Victorian Christmas Market here or @CastlefieldMrkt

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousNovember 26th 2013.

it's good here as hardly anyone there

AnonymousNovember 26th 2013.

Thanks for alerting us to the sale of real fur, I for one won't go near anywhere without a fur free policy.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 26th 2013.

Why not wear it, if your gonna eat it anyway?

AnonymousNovember 26th 2013.

If it's 'new' fur I share your sentiments. However, if it's 'old' or 'vintage' fur then I think there's an argument for wearing it. To throw it on the scrapheap makes the process more of a travesty. Great market though. Nice and quiet at the mo.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 26th 2013.

Disagree, new fur become vintage fur as soon as the owner sells it on second hand, so the demand for 'vintage' fur causes the problem almost as much as the demand for new fur. Wearing vintage fur also makes the wearing of fur more accepted in general.

AnonymousNovember 26th 2013.

So throw all 'old' fur away? Vintage fur is decades old

AnonymousNovember 26th 2013.

People will sell anything second hand as 'vintage' these days. But whether it's 5 years old or 50 the point still stands, buying vintage fur fuels a market which at some point needed an animal to be killed to make that item, whether it's decades ago or not doesn't make any difference. Btw I'm not a rabid animals rights type, I just think there are people making excuses which they don't think through, to feel better.

ShuttyNovember 26th 2013.

I hope this utilisation of this space encourages the old Victorian Market hall to be restored to it's former splendour, especially if it has a consistent and fitting purpose!

AndrewNovember 27th 2013.

I work within a stone’s throw of the Victorian Market and I never even knew this massive space was there. Do they use it for anything else? Gigs, season markets, etc.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 27th 2013.

The MIF 2011 had Bjork perform original work there, and a play called 'The Machine' was shown there as part of MIF 2013. It's a big grey steel building a stone's throw from where you live. You can't miss it ;)

AnonymousDecember 4th 2013.

Why isnt this place getting publicised?? Great venue but away from main drag a tad? Maybe some of us could have made a few honest pounds before xmas, esp if we'd have seen this in the local rag, then maybe we couldve booked a stall? Shame because we have some great low cost eco gift ideas.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan Schofield - editorDecember 4th 2013.

Editorial Comment: Listen Anon, you can't come on here promoting your own website with links and stuff without our permission. We've removed the links you included. Why not go down to the market and see if you can get a stall? Or ring our commercial team for advertising rates.

AnonymousDecember 5th 2013.

He's right Anon. It's bad form. There's lots of ways to promote your wares online. Talking of bad form, here's an article about it: www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/…/founder-manchester-confidential--mark-6280139…

AnonymousDecember 5th 2013.

Hi. I had a stall there a few Sundays ago and am there again on Dec 15th with vintage that is genuine and not 5 years old and it was a lovely place and I had a great day- to the people who want a stall there-you may still be able to still get one-Sundays or possibly even during the week-. To the person who's boycotting this great market because one trader had a real fur coat-you're cutting your nose to spite your face- the trader my have been a temporary one or may have even sold the coat! So go, it's a nice antidote to the "Christmas" markets and you will be supporting all the stallholders who are local, small traders. Happy Christmas!

Daniel DaviesDecember 8th 2013.

dont think some one thought that name through properly on that photo (art is anal) it made me laugh lol

AnonymousDecember 28th 2013.

The organizers, Asif and Jodie Farakhan or Bannister, depending on who she's talking to, failed to create the fair that was sold to the stall holders. Miss sold,as the fair should have been at Spinning Fields, the event was a washout.The stall holders had to go giving out the flyers,make a grotto and a costume at their own cost.Stall holders with same space were charged different prices.All in all a total disappointment. The hall is a beautiful space and but sadly was organized by people that don't know what they are doing.

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