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Late Night Shopping

Published on December 6th 2005.

Christmas is a great time of year, there’s loads of parties, you get given presents, you get time off work and there’s more football on TV than you can shake a stick at.

The downside? For every present you receive, there’s a present to buy for someone else. Now, I’m no scrooge, it’s not that I don’t want to buy gifts for my friends and family, it’s just that I actually think Band Aid lied when they sang, “It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid.” Bob Geldof and his friends have obviously never experienced the carnage of Manchester city centre on a Saturday afternoon in the run-up to Christmas. Crowds of people fighting to get through Selfridges’ doors, crying children, bored boyfriends and grannies scraping over who gets the last reindeer jumper in BHS. There’s every reason to be afraid.

Now, working for an internet company you’d think I’d profess that queuing in shops to buy presents is as old fashioned as Ebenezer Scrooge, that buying online and having gifts delivered directly to your door is the way forward. However, there’s a lot to be said for having a good browse around the shops; you know exactly what you’re getting, you can pick up gift ideas as you go and M & S is only a few minutes away to get a scarf and glove set for Great Aunty Mabel.

Every year I promise myself that I’ll be organised, that I’ll be like those people who buy all their Christmas presents in July and have them wrapped by August. However, I’m just not one of those people, and every year I find myself doing a mad dash around the city centre the weekend before Christmas hopelessly searching for something to give my mum and dad…..and my sister…….my best friend…..the boyfriend, and well, just about everyone.

However, thanks to some of the bods over at Manchester City Centre Management Company, gone are the days when all the shops closed at 5.30pm. Most stores are now open until 8pm throughout the week, making Christmas shopping a far pleasanter and an altogether less hectic experience. For a full list of stores that are staying open late just click here.

So, instead of joining the hordes at the weekend, why not stay after work and shop until 8pm? After all, it isn’t just the shops that are staying open that little bit later but the Christmas Markets as well. With traditional wooden chalets and stalls bursting with an amazing array of gifts, luxury goods and delicious continental specialities the markets have a fabulous atmosphere and look simply beautiful all lit up in the evening.

Christmas Markets Timetable:

17th November – 22 December
Thursday to Saturday: 10am – 9pm
Sunday to Wednesday: 10am – 8pm

European Christmas Market, Albert Square
German Christmas Market, St Ann’s Square
Christmas Arts & Crafts Market, Exchange Square.

And, who’s to say you have to leave after 8pm when all the shops are shut? Not only can you dine at one of the fab bars and restaurants in the city centre, but the Manchester Wheel in Exchange Square is open until 11pm every night and with the NCP Printworks car park offering free parking from 6pm – 12pm, Monday to Saturday throughout December why not grab your friends and make a night of it?

Pam Wood

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