While the Northern Quarter might be the place to head for those wishing to shop independent this Christmas, you can’t be in safer hands than with a visit to its very heart: Manchester Craft and Design Centre. The former Victorian fish market has been home to a vibrant creative community of local artists and contemporary designers for nearly 40 years, offering visitors the chance to not only buy unique gifts and presents but also meet the makers behind them. What’s more, always perfectly decked at this time of year, there couldn’t be a more Christmassy place to either welcome or drag you kicking and screaming into the festive season. Though the centre is open for Christmas shopping right now, make sure you’re there on 23 November for the launch of a special ‘Give Handmade this Christmas’ programme of events. The day will feature festive classical music performed by Manchester String Quartet (11.30am-1pm), a free G&T from Didsbury Gin for first the 150 lucky customers (11am-4pm), and, of course, plenty of retail therapy throughout.
Christmas shouldn’t cost the earth, though sadly it does. Discover ways to have a more environmentally friendly celebration this year with a day of ‘festive craftivism’ led by members of Extinction Rebellion. The free, family-friendly drop-in session on 30 November is a chance to make your own up-cycled, handmade decorations and wrapping paper whilst learning more about the citizen-led campaign. Bring along any bring kitchen rolls, crisp packets or newspaper you have kicking around at home.
Remember when you were five years old and could legitimately present one of your very own painted masterpieces as a present? After opening Day One of your advent calendar, head back to MCDC for an afternoon of bubbly and acrylic painting (an enabling though potentially a messy combination?) and brush up on that youthful creativity. Booking essential. Then, for those recoiling at the rush of Christmas madness seven days in, escape into a world of winter festival choral music – from ancient Laplandic reindeer herding songs to folk ballads and 16th-century Spanish songs of peace – led by Manchester Community Choir. (Free.)
The centre will be open seven days a week from 1 December right up until Christmas Eve (good to note for any inevitable last-minute present-buying) and its ever-charming Oak Street Café will be serving festive winter warmers to keep the spirit up throughout.
Finally, let’s face it: sometimes you just can’t trust yourself to choose the right thing. In which case, one of the newly launched MCDC gift vouchers might be just the solution. Visit the centre’s website or call in to find out more.