Saturday, 26 November 2016

MCR CHRISTMAS MARKETS | THE GOOD & BAD


It's officially the time of year where Albert Square turns into an illuminated, mulled wine fuelled place of dreams we call none other than MCR Christmas Markets! If you haven't ventured out to visit before then firstly, where have you been??? And secondly, go! I'd definitely say it's up there in terms of markets I've been to before and I go every year without fail. Everyone in sight is wrapped up in warm coats and woolly hats and grasping onto the annual red cups regardless of the time of day.

My first visit this year, and definitely not my last, was the Wednesday just gone (23rd Nov). I thought a mid-week trip would have just the right amount of crowd there and I wasn't wrong. There was so much going on, yet the atmosphere still had a nice relaxed feel. Everyone walks and explores at their own pace which I love, there isn't a set route so it allows everyone freedom to roam. If it's your first time visiting there is a walking map trail available on the council site here, but I'd definitely still go it alone. 

MCR Markets have anything from the best food & drink there is to the weirdest but most wonderful personalised gifts for Christmas, and not to mention the HUGE lit up Santa. The balcony bar area is a firm favourite which definitely pulls the crowds in, this area begins to pick up after 5 where most people head straight from work. There are large tables and bar stools set over two floors so it's a great place to view the square with family (you can see the view in a picture below) or to simply drink with your mates.

I'm going to start this off with my favourite places to eat and get merry, along with the general highlights. I took a bunch of pictures so I've placed them all in the appropriate places. As expected, there were some not so great parts, but what's Christmas without a moan?


MULLED WINE RANKINGS

Starting with the most festive (and most important) part of MCR Markets - booze. It was only right I sampled the numerous flavours the traders had to offer and I went with four flavours from three different places around the square (and I was designated driver). If you have no idea what the red Christmas cups are that I've talked about they are pictured above. The cups are stacked up across every alcoholic stall on the square. A £2 deposit is added to your first drink and then you can claim that back once you've had enough of the stuff. I've ranked each cup in order of my favourite along with the location of the stall I bought it from...

1. APPLE & CINAMMON (central right location)
The tastiest and cheapest mulled wine of the night at £3.50 a cup.

2. STRAWBERRY & AMARETTO (upper left location)
This mulled wine trader definitely knows how to flavour mulled wine. It had around 7 flavours including Passionfruit & Cointreau and Rum & Mint and is located just left of the huge Santa. I can't remember the name but the picture below is the stall! Small cup £4.00. Large cup £5.50.

3. ORIGINAL (central location)
The first cup I had had to be the original but it's ranked third purely based on its price at £4.50 a cup.

4. SWEET & SOUR CHERRY (same location as A&C)
Pure sugar in a cup and far too sweet for me. Anyone with a serious sweet tooth give it a go. £3.50 a cup.


TOP PLACES FOR SCRAN

To all you vegetarians out there please look away now, you have no place in this upcoming list and I'm not sorry one bit. MCR Markets are nothing without suckling pigs and German sausages as well as the odd European traders offering paella and pizza as well. There's something for everyone but this year was a complete game changer.. here are my top three places in order of deliciousness. 

1. NORTHERN SOUL (central)
uhmmmmm wow?! This place is a new addition to the markets this year, it was absolutely heaving and the food looked unbelievable. The actual base for NS is in Northern Quarter, but I have never actually been. On first impression I just couldn't get over the fact they had cheese graters used as lamp shades - it looked so cute! But in terms of grub, imagine the famous American grilled cheese with an unreal Christmas twist on them?! Pictured above is a section of the menu and at £6 average a sandwich I think it's well worth the price. The length of the queue was a good indication of how the food tasted but I was too hungry to wait. 

2. PANCAKE HOUSE (central location)
I go here every year without fail, it's the little circular pancake domes located right in front of the lit up Santa. I feel you always pay over the odds for a pancake, pretzel, doughnut or waffle at a market so I wasn't shocked when the Nutella and banana pancake cost over £4.50. There's always a queue here but it's well worth the wait. 

3. SWEET HEAVEN (upper right location)
Need I say more? It's exactly what it says on the tin, just look at the pic I took below. Try the Jack Daniels chocolate bark.


PERSONAL HIGHLIGHT
The Message Tree

This was definitely a nice find in amongst the hustle and crowds. Personal messages and well-wishes are written on brown paper tags and hung up across the branches of a Christmas tree, located just left of the lit up Santa. I took a picture of one of my favourites written by a girl called Lily - so cute. I imagine the tree will be full of notes by the next time I go.



PERSONAL LOWLIGHT
Afflecks Pop-up Market

The Affleck's market inside the town hall has secured the building for a few years now. This year was the first time I went inside and it really didn't do it for me. The town hall is a such a grand building you'd think the market would take a good 20 minutes to get round, but Afflecks have a tiny percentage of it and I don't think they make good use of the space.

Food and drink wasn't permitted inside which was a pain for a lot of people attempting to scoff their dinner in seconds outside. Inside there are around 8 little stalls with a selection of vintage and alternative clothing as well as gifts, but the selection really didn't wow me. 


I love visting MCR Markets and every year is a different experience. I hope this post has given you a little insight into what's on offer and also urged you to go. You can visit the markets every day until the 21st December. Opening times can be found on the council site as well as any easy transport links. Are you planning on making an appearance this year?

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2 comments

  1. I went for the first time last year, there are so many lovely market stalls but I found it was so busy and you struggled to get to some of the stands - this was on a Saturday though.

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    1. I did exactly the same last year! Fridays and Saturdays are just unbearably busy, you should go again mid- week, it was lovely xx

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