Hatch, Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7ED – Visit Now
Tucked under the Mancunian Way on Oxford Road, Hatch is an outdoor destination that delivers on all things retail therapy, boozy beverages and good grub. The venue is home to almost 30 independent traders, each housed in a repurposed shipping container and facing into a huge communal courtyard. In honour of the fast-approaching festive season, Hatch has transformed its vibrant pop-up village into a cosy grotto which certainly gives the infamous Christmas Markets a run for their money.
Every food trader has upgraded their signature dishes with a festive twist
We popped down to the opening night of the annual Festive Village to sample the seasonal specials and enjoy an evening of carols, cranberry sauce and cosmopolitans. From Parmegeddon to Kong’s Sandwich Shop, every food trader has upgraded their signature dishes with a festive twist, served alongside a whole host of seasonal tipples. To accompany the Yuletide menu, there’s a jam-packed itinerary of themed activities where you can try your hand at everything from wreath weaving to candle making. If you’re keen to avoid the chaos that is Manchester city centre in the weeks leading up to the big day, enjoy a spot of Christmas shopping at the various independent retailers.
Decked out in twinkling lights, the venue oozes Christmas spirit on arrival as we’re greeted with a glass of prosecco and seated around the giant Christmas tree. The November chill is soon forgotten, with the open fires and cosy blankets placed on each bench. To the heavenly soundtrack of Hatch’s resident choir The Sleigh-Bells, the first dishes are quickly brought to the table, alongside cups of steaming mulled wine. Local legends Kong’s Sandwich Shop certainly set the bar high with their pulled turkey toastie, which combines all the traditional trimmings in the ultimate Boxing Day sandwich.
Local legends Kong’s Sandwich Shop set the bar high
The addition of maple shredded sprouts and baconnaise on their festive burger, however, might not sit well with the Christmas purists. East Coast favourites Parmageddon have put a seasonal spin on the traditional Teesside delicacy, topping their classic chicken parmo with pigs in blankets, gooey cheese and deep-fried stuffing. It soon becomes apparent that this menu is heavy on the meat and cheese – but what is Christmas without a little overindulgence?
The chaat bombs from Cheeky Tikka Bites provided a light relief, although they’re not overtly festive – the delicate shells are stuffed with chickpea salsa and bursting with the cool flavours of mint and coriander. Asian street food innovators Fuku delivered their veggie spring rolls to the table, which were fresh and moreish, especially when slathered in the accompanying sauce.
While I’d normally argue that cranberry sauce is too predictable when it comes to adding a Christmas twist to dishes, the tartness of the cranberries paired perfectly with the crunch of the spring rolls. The dish of the night, however, came courtesy of artisan producers Grandad’s Sausages. The Bury-based sausage connoisseurs have come out on top with their festive loaded fries, generously topped with all the trimmings and drenched in a rich gravy.
The Festive Village has everything you could possibly need to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year
Food and drink aside, Hatch is offering a range of Festive Workshops this year, where guests can create their very own decorations and gifts. We’re whisked away for a much-needed breather and put to work at the wreath-making workshop, courtesy of bagel and bloom dream team Bread Flower. Despite lacking the artistry often necessary for these activities, I was soon weaving baubles, dried fruit and flowers into something that I’d be proud to hang on my front door this Christmas.
There’s also a candle pouring workshop delivered by Hatch trader Last Ember, where you can take home a personalised soy-wax candle. We returned to our seats for dessert from T’arricrri, who have developed a Christmas Cannoli for the occasion, made with Panettone direct from Italy. There were also several seasonal drinks to sample including the Clementine Cosmo, which blends vodka with those spicy festive flavours of orange and cranberry, and the Jolly Gingerbread Man, an indulgent concoction of vodka, Baileys and gingerbread.
We leave the Festive Village with our wreath in hand, a takeaway portion of those spring rolls and plenty of Christmas spirit. Hatch is the ideal social spot at the best of times, but the Festive Village has everything you could possibly need to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.