I visited Liverpool's Christmas market and was underwhelmed - but the food was great

I headed to Liverpool, London and Manchester to see which Christmas market was the best.
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I absolutely love the festive period (and mulled wine) so when the Christmas markets open, I make sure to visit as many as I can.

So far this year, I have been to London's Winter Wonderland, Manchester's Christmas markets and, of course, Liverpool's offering at St George's Hall. But, one really stood out for me, while the other two were fairly underwhelming.

Liverpool's Christmas markets

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This year, Liverpool's markets are once again located at St George's Plateau, against the beautiful backdrop of St George's Hall. The setting, in my opinion, is perfect, and the German-style stalls are lovely. However, I find the markets overall to be pretty underwhelming.

I have visited Liverpool's Christmas markets twice so far this year, once on a Monday afternoon and again on a Saturday morning, and the experiences were vastly different. On the Monday, it was far quieter, as expected, but I had the chance to properly look around each stall. There are a range of food outlets, from Greek dishes to churros, roast meat and German bratwurst. But, the gift stalls are fairly disappointing.

Liverpool Christmas Market is open from 11am to 10pm every day except its final day, Christmas Eve, when it will close at 5pm.Liverpool Christmas Market is open from 11am to 10pm every day except its final day, Christmas Eve, when it will close at 5pm.
Liverpool Christmas Market is open from 11am to 10pm every day except its final day, Christmas Eve, when it will close at 5pm.

I love a crafts market, with handmade items and unique Christmas gifts, but Liverpool's markets really lack this. There is a stall where you can personalise a Christmas decoration, a jewellery store and a lovely cheese offering, but nothing really caught my eye or seemed to be particularly unique.

The food offerings, however, I was really impressed with and the prices definitely are not cheap, but they're not extortionate either. As someone who is vegan, I have been disappointed with the food in previous years, particularly the hard, tasteless bratwurst I had a couple years back. However, the vegan bratwurst was absolutely amazing this year, and £8 for a decent sized lunch.

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The biggest disappointment was the mulled wine, which is £6 for a small cup and not nice at all. It was boiling hot, so much that I couldn't drink it for about 15 minutes and very bitter. Buying a can of coke also cost me £3 and a bottle of water was the same.

If you have children with you, you need to be prepared to spend between £3.50 and £5 per festive ride, but, I was impressed with the kids activities and my niece had an absolute ball on the carousel and train ride. In comparison to Manchester, Liverpool's markets are definitely better for the little ones, with tons of activities and far smaller queues for food and drink - and far less walking too.

Manchester Christmas markets

Next up is Manchester's Christmas markets, which are dotted around the city centre including Piccadilly Gardens and St Ann's Square. I visited the markets on a Friday afternoon, and it was very busy, but far more bearable than when I went on a Saturday last year.

In terms of food, there are a number of vegan options, including a 'Vegan Bratwurst' stall with a number of different choices, including the Kastu bratwurst, which is delicious. I paid around £13 for chips and a bratwurst, which definitely isn't cheap, but was a decent size. I was disappointed with the lack of sweet treats for vegans though, as I really fancied a waffle or brownie and couldn't find anything suitable.

Vegan Katsu bratwurst in Manchester.Vegan Katsu bratwurst in Manchester.
Vegan Katsu bratwurst in Manchester.
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If you're visiting for the festive drinks, Manchester is far better than Liverpool, with delicious mulled wine priced at £5.50 for a regular of £7 for a large - plus the £3.50 deposit for a festive mug. I love that you can take a mug home with you, which I do every year, and I think £3.50 is pretty good for a souvenir and far better than disposable plastic.

You can really have a whole day out at the Manchester markets, whereas I do think Liverpool is only good for an hour or two at most.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland is back at London's Hyde Park and is definitely one of the most talked about Christmas markets in the UK. The huge attraction features a range of rides, an ice bar, a whole German village and more.

We paid around £9 per person for entry, giving us access to the market stalls, food outlets, and games. However, you do have to pay more for entry to places such as the ice bar and ice skating rink, which makes for a pretty expensive day out. Unlike Manchester and Liverpool, you need to book in advance and are given a time that you can arrive from, which helps with congestion as it is always very busy.

Winter Wonderland is back at London's Hyde Park.Winter Wonderland is back at London's Hyde Park.
Winter Wonderland is back at London's Hyde Park.
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Winter Wonderland itself is beautiful and incredibly festive, and I honestly don't think you need to pay for any of the extras to have a good time. However, if you have children with you, you will need a pretty hefty budget as going on rides, ice skating or playing games for prizes is really expensive.

The mulled wine was fantastic and was priced at £5.50 per mug, which is cheaper than Liverpool, and there are tons of food stalls to choose from too. I loved that there are a range of market stalls offering handmade goods, and in terms of buying Christmas presents, Winter Wonderland wins for me.

However, it is really busy and if you are wanting food, drink or to join in with activities, you need to be prepared to queue.

Overall winner

Overall, Manchester's Christmas markets were my favourite this year, with tons to explore around the city, making for a proper festive day out. The mulled wine served at Piccadilly Gardens is the best I have tried and you can enjoy yourself without tons of additional costs.