The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming. And yes, that means it’s time to eat, drink, be merry and do all manner of regrettable things. But you don’t have to regret what you eat and drink this Christmas, courtesy of our guide to the best festive food and drink across the North. We’ve plucked out some of the very best destinations in Manchester, with a strong showing from near-neighbours Liverpool and Leeds.
And it’s not all calorific heavy meals either, we’ve included some of our favourite vegan eateries, plus the best independent venues in the UK. See it as a kind of pared-down advent calendar – make sure you tick them all off, otherwise Santa will be sad Santa and you won’t get anything good this year. Don’t blame us, we don’t make the rules.
Here are our picks
Guess what? The Manchester Christmas Markets are BACK – just as they will be until the end of time. They’re an established Manchester tradition now: mulled wine, check; German sausage, check; silly jumper, check. They’re dotted all over the city and you owe it to yourself to make at least one trip to them this Yuletide season. Christmas isn’t Christmas without them.
The third annual Liverpool Christmas Ice Festival is back and it’s better than ever. As well as a bunch of high-octane funfair rides and ice-based events for all you thrill-seekers, there’s a range of excellent pop-up food and drink stalls. Our favourite? The Sausage Swing Grill with its endless range of high-quality bratwurst dishes. Warm yourself up this Christmas, grab a tray of their mouth-watering currywurst.
The Creameries, 406 Wilbraham Road, Manchester, M21 0SD - Visit now
The Creameries, the latest venture from the peerless Mary-Ellen McTague and esteemed baker Sophie Yeoman, is probably our favourite place to eat in South Manchester. And their six-course Christmas sharing menu looks very special indeed. Expect everything from pheasant pie to gold, frankincense and myrrh chocolates – and a snip at just £35 per person. These two can do no wrong.
Just Grand! Vintage Tearoom, Grand Arcade, 8-9 Grand Arcade, New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6PG - Visit now
Leeds’ favourite coffee shop, Just Grand are pushing the boat out this Yuletide season, opening on Sundays throughout December for winter warming brews, festive-themed baked goods and, of course, Christmassy Afternoon Teas. Well worth a special visit. You can even buy some sweet treats that Santa will actually enjoy (he’s sick of supermarket cookies, so he told us).
Roc And Rye, 60 Spring Gardens, Manchester, M2 2BQ - Visit now
An independent cocktail bar hidden at the top of King Street, central Manchester. Roc & Rye is a late night cocktail bar inspired by Miami’s vibrant and colourful nightlife. Pink themed interiors, neon lights and a night club sound system make it the perfect place for those impromptu Christmas parties.
Peaberry Coffee House & Kitchen Albert Dock, Albert Dock, Units 1/2a The Colonnades, Liverpool, L3 4AA - Visit now
It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of this family-run independent coffee shop and cafe, and their festive plans underline exactly why. Expect a few unexpected new dishes, specially designed for the Christmas season, all with stunning views of the locks and staff who are full of cheer all year-round. If you’re in Liverpool and haven’t been there yet, make it a priority.
Knave’s Kitchen, 31 Call Lane, Leeds, LS1 7BT - Visit now
Knave’s Kitchen is probably the best vegan restaurant in Leeds, and that’s all thanks to how they’re breaking the outdated stereotypes of vegan food being all kale and lentils. You can expect glorious vegan junk food, and this December they’re putting on a Christmas menu that features dishes like ‘Christmas Wurst and Parsnip Bacon Bun’ as well as ‘Boozy Shallots, Root Hash and Lambs Lettuce Truffle Crunch’, ‘Peruvian Jack Fruit Ceviche, Corn Croquettes, Sweet Pepper Aji’ and ‘Yorkshire Seitan and Wild Mushroom Wellington, Rosemary Roasties, Mulled Cabbage, Buttered Greens and PROPER Gravy’. Now this is how it’s done.
Tattu, Gartside Street, 3 Hardman Square, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 3EB - Visit now
Nowhere does Christmas quite like Tattu, and their expert chefs have been busy crafting a series of spectacular festive dishes. This festive menu is available now and it’s as jaw-dropping and delicious as we’ve come to expect. Treat yourself this winter.
Harvey Nichols Manchester, 21 Cathedral Approach, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1AD - Visit now
One of Creative Tourist’s favourite Manchester eateries, the Harvey Nichols Second Floor Bar and Brasserie always puts on a good spread come Christmastime. This year, choices include Milford Farm turkey roulade served with pork and apricot stuffing, creamed Brussels sprouts and pigs in blankets, plus a classic handmade Christmas pudding for dessert. Wipe your mouth, you’re drooling.