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Blackpool Illuminations will be on for two months longer than usual this year

Amazing news!

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Visit Blackpool

Blackpool illuminations are set to be extended for an additional two months this year to help boost the seaside resort’s tourism.

VistBlackpool has revealed that the Illuminations will run for an extra two months this year from September 4th to January 3rd 2021.

They have also announced they will be hosting their first-ever virtual Switch-On concert in association with MTV Music UK.

This means the switch-on will be free-to-access for all in the online streamed event taking place on Friday September 4th.  

Originally the Switch-on was scheduled for the same date, but with an audience of 20,000 people at the Tower Festival Headline. 

Mark S Jobling/Wikimedia

Due to social distancing, this event cannot go ahead in its usual format. So instead, for the first time in 70 years, the resort will be holding an accessible virtual Switch-On event that can be seen all over the world.

There will be an hour-long concert with a mixture of pre-recorded and at-home performances as well as live performances filmed at a closed event in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

The event will be hosted by Diversity’s Ashley and Jordan Banjo, and will feature a star-studded line-up of talent, leading up to the all-important Switch-On moment.

Cllr Gillian Campbell, Cabinet Member for Tourism & Culture for Blackpool Council, said: “The annual Switch-On event is the biggest night in Blackpool’s events calendar. Sadly, it is simply not possible to stage an event of that scale given the current restrictions around social distancing and mass gatherings.

“However, it would be unthinkable not to launch our Blackpool Illuminations season with an extraordinary event. Staging the first-ever virtual Switch-On concert to a mass audience watching from home does exactly that. 

“We are very much aware of how much our tourism businesses are suffering as a result of the pandemic and we hope that by extending the Blackpool Illuminations season by two months, it will give them an opportunity to bring in some additional trade.

“We are planning for a safe, socially distanced Illuminations experience and will be keeping all Government health guidance under review as we move towards the autumn season.”

Details of the Switch-On concert’s line-up will be revealed over the course of the next few weeks, along with how you can view the streamed event. 

Plus VistBlackpool will also be releasing a preview of new features on the 2020 illuminations display. 

What's On

Full details of this year’s Manchester Christmas Markets as they get into full swing

The markets are billed as ‘bigger and better’ than ever before…

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Manchester's Finest Group

With the Manchester Christmas Markets now in full swing, let’s take a look at the full list of traders and locations for this year’s festivities.

The Christmas Markets opened on November 10th, transforming Piccadilly Gardens into the Winter Gardens, with over 220 stalls open at the usual locations of Market Street, Cathedral Gardens, Exchange Street, New Cathedral Street, St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, The Corn Exchange, and King Street. 

The council also confirmed the return of the magical Manchester Christmas lights trail, which will illuminate the city centre throughout the festive season with its walk-through giant baubles, light arches and a Manchester bee. 

And the iconic Big Santa has made a return to the Central Library at St. Peter’s Square, where he will be keeping an eye on all things Christmas in Manchester from his perch.

Here’s the full rundown of what to expect at this year’s Christmas Markets:

Winter Gardens

Piccadilly Gardens is once again transformed into the Winter Gardens, which the council has promised is ‘bigger and better’ than ever before.

On the food and drink side of things, the Winter Gardens is serving up the likes of pancakes, churros, cookie dough, vegan bratwursts, Korean hotdogs, pork barms, and Amsterdam Frites. There’s also be an array of winter tipples and a selection of continental and foreign ales. 

There will also be dedicated weekly trial spots for new local traders as they step into winter trading and try out their wares on the Christmas Market crowds.  

And brand new for this year, the Winter Gardens is hosting a giant Nordic-themed double tipi bar, fully heated, and festooned with ambient lighting, wooden benches, fake furs, and a roaring fire pit.

There will be live music and entertainment within the tipi bar most nights, making it the perfect spot to spread some Christmas cheer throughout the whole week.

St. Ann’s Square and Exchange Street

St. Ann’s Square – which is actually the original site for Manchester’s Christmas Markets – is returning with its large undercover bar providing German beers and warm cherry Gluhwein, all of which will keep Christmas revellers warm and merry throughout the winter season.

St. Ann’s Square and Exchange Street is also host to a number of local traders, including Yard and Coop with their salt and pepper chicken fries and Manc and Proud, who are serving up Mancunian themed treats, plus continental chocolates, English cheeses, and art emporiums. 

Market Street

A firm favourite with Christmas shoppers, Market Street is home to stalls selling a wide range of gifts from a whole host of amazing crafters and producers. Customers can get everything from tweed hats, spiced rum and Christmas decorations, to candles, jewellery, and gift sets of cheese truckles. 

King Street

Home to some of the best food in Manchester, the Christmas deli stalls on King Street take foodies on a world tour of some of the best loved dishes on the planet, ranging from Italian cannelloni and arancini, Greek gyros, halloumi fries, French garlic mushrooms and even Salford Rum.

And new for 2022, middle eastern restaurant Habas is bringing its Middle Eastern menu and seating area to King Street – great for those wanting to eat their way round the world!  

New Cathedral Street

New Cathedral Street boasts a range of stalls selling high-end gifts including fine-cast ornaments, old fashioned liquorice, handmade cocktails for home, and light up Christmas decorations.

There’s also a number of tasty food stalls offering everything ranging from vegan five bean chilli to New York Bagels. These can then be washed down by one of cosmopolitan Bar 3’s famous smoking cocktails. 

Additionally, the famous Witch House is making its grand return to New Cathedral Street armed with its traditional steins and mouth-watering currywursts. 

Exchange Square 

Market-goers will be able to warm up at the beloved Mill Exchange bar, who are bringing back their special Mancunian mulled wine.

2022 also sees the return of the famous Porky Pig’s Yorkshire Pudding Wrap, alongside stalls selling hot curries, German kebabs, gourmet Italian pizza mini pancakes and fresh fudge.

The Corn Exchange

Nestled between Manchester’s historic Corn Exchange building and Shambles Square, visitors can expect to find unique fairtrade hats and jackets, character themed hats and belts, as well as handmade pies, cupcakes and soaps. 

Cathedral Gardens

The much-loved undercover ice rink Skate MCR opened in time for the half term and Halloween. There is live entertainment on from Thursday to Sunday each week, all the way through to New Year’s Eve.

Next to the ice rink, hot food, warm drinks, pancakes and tipples are on offer from nearby market stalls to help warm up cold hands and feet after a skate on the ice.     

Councillor Pat Karney, lead councillor for Christmas at Manchester City Council, said: “Christmas is looking better than ever this year in Manchester with our world-beating Christmas markets set to open in four weeks’ time, and a whole host of other unmissable free festive treats also coming our way. 

 “Everyone knows that Manchester does Christmas better than anywhere else and I’ve been counting down the days to the opening of our Christmas markets again since the day they closed last year.   

 “We’ve got some fantastic new festive additions to the markets this year, as well as some other soon-to-be announced unmissable festive surprises which are set to get everyone in Manchester smiling in the run-up to Christmas. More announcements on this very soon – I can’t wait!” 

The Christmas Markets are now open and will close on Thursday December 22nd. 

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A huge party with £2 drinks and FREE cheese boards is happening on Friday

Get this in your diaries!

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alvariummcr / Instagram & Manchester's Finest Group

If you love cheap drinks AND cheese then we’ve got some very good news for you on this grey, dreary Monday.

Alvarium, Tib Street’s hidden gem and home to some of Manchester’s best food offerings, has announced a huge party with cheap drinks, FREE food and DJs all night long.

It’s happening this Friday, November 18th, and you can can expect a massive party featuring £2 drinks (selected single spirit mixers, bottles of beer, small glasses of wine and selected cocktails).

alvariummcr / Instagram

There’ll also be free canapés of cheese and meats from 8pm and a local DJ spinning records from 7pm – 1am.

The bar has made a name for itself over the past few years, serving as not only a space to enjoy a delicious tipple, but also to sample some of the city’s finest independent food pop-ups.

It’s seen the likes of Lazy Tony’s Lasagneria, Black Leaf and Abeja all make the move into its intimate basement restaurant, each producing delightfully different dishes.

alvariummcr / Instagram

Alvarium also does an excellent Friday happy hour deal that runs from 4pm – 1am. This will get you two for £5 bottles of Mahou, £20 bottles of Prosecco, £12.50 wine and two for £10 cocktails.

The party this Friday is set to celebrate everything the bar is known and loved for – excellent drink deals, a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere and a proper good knees up.

Make sure you get yourself signed up – either HERE or on the form below – to attend.

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A huge vegan festival is coming to Manchester next weekend

All proceeds from tickets bought will be donated to animals in need

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Seitan's Kebabs & Saco Superfoods

Manchester is set to welcome a huge vegan festival with over eighty stalls of plant-based goods this month.

The Manchester Vegan Winter Festival will be taking over the Trafford Bowlers Exhibition Centre next weekend, and will be bringing with it the very best elements a vegan lifestyle has to offer.

There will be a number of local plant-based traders in attendance across the festival, all serving up delicious vegan meals both hot and cold.

This includes Manchester’s very own House of Habesha, who will be dishing up traditional Ethiopian curries, and Seitan’s Kebab, who recently made it into the finals of the British Street Food Awards 2020/2021 for their famed vegan hot dogs.

@houseofhabesha_official / Instagram

There will also be Salford’s very own DevilDog at the festival, selling bottles of their famous plant-based hot sauces, as well as Gillie Foods with a delicious range of Asian-inspired dishes.

Salford-based Saco Superfoods, which works directly with small-scale women producers in West Africa, will also be at the event selling a range of superfoods including Organic Mango, Baobab Powder, Hibiscus Flower and Ginger Flakes.

Other local businesses due to be in attendance include itreatskin, which sells 100% natural products ideal for eczema, acne and psoriasis and Northern Lashe, an eco-friendly company providing handmade vegan eyelash products.

There will also be Sea Moss Elixir, a local drinks brand that produces herbal and nutritous beverages.

@theseamosselixr / Instagram

And those looking for Christmas present inspiration, Bo’s Book stall – a new vegan cookbook boasting easy-to-follow recipes for both dogs and humans – will be selling its books and cooking products, with all the profits going to help needy dogs at animal welfare and education charity Miracle’s Mission.

The Manchester Vegan Festival will be taking place at the Trafford Bowlers Exhibition Centre next Sunday (November 20th) from 10:30am to 4:30pm

Entry is just £5, with all proceeds from tickets going to support animals in need. There is also a £15 VIP ticket option available with fast track entry on the day and a goody bag full of vegan products, samples, discounts and offers.

Get tickets here.

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