Following the news that the Manchester Christmas Markets won’t be taking place this year, many were left concerned about how their absence will affect the city and its economy. While their absence will undeniably be painful for festive fans across the North West, it’s worth remembering that Manchester is a city that’s full of independent shops, makers and markets that all need our help now more than ever. With 2020 continuing to be a struggle for many in the retail sector, here’s some of the best independent shops and markets in Manchester where you’re bound to find the perfect locally-made Christmas gift for a friend or loved one…

Manchester Craft and Design Centre

Perhaps the most well-known space for independent artists, makers and creatives in the city, the Manchester Craft and Design Centre is home to over 19 different studio shops, all housed within the walls of a beautiful Victorian former fish market. Once inside, visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to handmade gifts and crafts that are packed with local charm. From jewellery, ceramics and stationary, to bespoke clothing, illustration and paintings – their list of in-house makers is changing all the time, so be sure to visit their site before your visit. Can’t decide what to get? Gift vouchers are also available.

17 Oak Street, Manchester, M4 5JD, Tel: 0161 832 4274
Afflecks Palace

A staple of the Northern Quarter’s independent retail scene, no shopping trip to Manchester is complete without a visit to Afflecks Palace. For over thirty years, customers have browsed the many gift stalls, off-beat clothing outlets and hand-made jewellery stores scattered across the venue’s four winding floors – buying items that are often pre-loved, handmade and packed with character. You’ll find everything from anime to musical instruments in Afflecks, with arty keepsakes from places like S.W.A.L.K Creative, colourfully weird illustrations from My Cat Likes Cheese and records galore in Vinyl Resting Place providing the perfect Christmas gifts.

52 Church Street, Manchester, M4 1PW, Tel: 0161 839 0718
Levy Market

Located just a short train ride outside of Manchester City Centre, Levenshulme Market takes place most weekends in the railway carpark, welcoming local food and creative traders into its airy outdoor space. As Christmas approaches, this community-run market becomes the perfect place to find a gift with charm and a distinctively homemade flavour. Handmade scented candles, cakes, bakes and sweet treats and up-cycled clothing – it’s all here. With their vendors changing each week, it’s worth checking the Levy Market website before your visit to find out what’s they have in store.

Stockport Road, Levenshulme, Manchester, M19 3AB
Form Lifestyle Store

Nestled in the street-art covered back alleys of the Northern Quarter is one of Manchester’s best-kept independent shopping secrets. Form Lifestyle Store is a cosy space specialising in quaint gifts, candles and homeware items all with an elegant less-is-more aesthetic. Customers can browse self-care items like essential oils, bath salts and organic cotton face masks or find a new addition for their home with calming soy candles, artistic prints and handcrafted bowls, pots and plates. For those unable to venture out, there’s also a web-store allowing you to buy from home.

6 Bradley Street, Manchester, M1 1EH, Tel: 0161 236 3334

Oxford Road’s collection of colourful shipping containers quickly became one of the city’s most popular food, drink and retail spots following its debut a few years back – and rightly so. In addition to featuring some of the best street food and drink in the city (Parmageddon, we’re looking at you), Hatch is also home to an ever-changing array of retailers who sell their wares from inside their metal box units. Visit this Winter and you’ll find traders like Black Square Beer selling the very best independently brewed cans and bottles, Sneaker Pharm offering the best in new sneaks and anxiety-alleviating homeware items from Nordic Muse. Perfect!

Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7ED, Tel: 0333 323 2238

Oklahoma is one of the Northern Quarter’s longest-standing independent gift shops – and a firm favourite among residents and day-trippers alike. Head here if you’re after something colourful, arty and a little different. In the lead up to Christmas, they stock a wide array of delightfully bizarre tree decorations alongside their regular selection of books, mugs, candles, cushions and retro games from your childhood that are bound to bring nostalgic memories flooding back. Pop in for a browse – we guarantee you won’t leave empty handed.

74-76 High Street, Manchester, M4 1ES, Tel: 0161 834 1136
Manchester Makers Markets

Chilli sauces, cheeses, pies and brownies – you’ll find all these irresistible edibles at Manchester’s airy outdoor makers markets alongside a wide array of handmade gifts like illustrations, jewellery and vintage obscurities. These independent markets take place at various locations across the city on various days (check the site for their full schedule) but you’re likely to bump into them in the Northern Quarter on the second Sunday of every month or the Great Northern on the first Sunday of the month. In addition to their excellent local produce, they often have live-music on hand too – making them the perfect day-out activity.

Various Locations
Pollard Yard

This collection of shipping container units hidden at the back of Manchester’s newest neighbourhood Ancoats is a self-styled village for likeminded creatives and makers. In addition to featuring beauticians, personal trainers and tattoo artists, this rustic and independent space also boasts clothing from Laura Fitzgerald Fashion, colourful upholstry and soft furnishings from Jenna Nicole Designs and conteporary paintings from artist Kate Broadhurst. After something a little different? You’ll find it here.

15 Pollard Street East, Manchester, M40 7QX, Tel: 0161 854 1469
Fri 27 Nov
Simon Bland
Published on:
Sun 13 Dec 2020