Christmas in Manchester city centre
- Manchester city centre
- Thursday 10 November 2022 to Thursday 22 December 2022
- Impacted area(s)
Manchester city centre, Inner Ring Road
It's the most wonderful time of the year
As the festive season is upon us once more, people travel from all over Greater Manchester, the UK and the world to shop, eat, drink, attend concerts, head to the match and of course see the world-famous Christmas markets.
As it is also one of the busiest times in the city, this page will help you travel easier to and from the city centre and give you the best travel options and handy tips to do so.
There have been many changes to the city centre in the last 18 months, some road layouts have changed meaning there is less space for cars. Some car parks have also closed - meaning less space for cars to park. The one thing that has remained the same is there is still congestion in the city centre and on the Inner Ring Road (Mancunian Way, Trinity Way, Great Ancoats Street).
If you have to drive then please consider the following information to make your journey smoother and potentially quicker.
- Drive at a quieter time - This means avoiding driving to and around the city after 12pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and between 3pm and 7pm during the week.
- Know where road congestion may be - Our data shows that journeys along the Mancunian Way typically have higher journey times during the week, and journeys along the northern section of the Inner Ring Road (Great Ancoats Street) have higher journey times at the weekend.
- Take a different route - If you need to drive across the city at the weekend, and Manchester City are not playing at the Etihad, it may be quicker to use Alan Turing Way/Mancunian Way.
- Park on the same side of the city as your route if you can – Driving across the city can add additional time to your journey, so if it’s an option for you, park in a car park closest to your route out of the city centre. View the map of the city centre car parks here.
- Check for quicker routes before every car journey on Google, Waze and other Apps. Did you know that have our own journey planner too? Visit our journey planning webpage for more information.
Take the tram to the heart of the action!
Metrolink operates a frequent service throughout the day, which will save you time travelling (and trying to find a parking space).
Take a peek at the network map to see where all the services run to.
You should use contactless for payments, it's a quick and easy way to pay. Just remember to touch in and out with the same card or device.
If you're travelling by Metrolink as a family, you can save money with our family travelcard which allows travel for one to three children (aged under 16) accompanied by one or two adults.
Park and ride
If you do need to drive at any point of your journey, we recommend using one of our park and ride sites where you can park for free and then hop on the tram to the city centre.
With a lot of services that beat the traffic through dedicated bus lanes and some priority traffic signals, bus may be the transport that will take you to your destination and then back home safely this festive period.
Some buses in Greater Manchester now have real-time information too, so you can stay up-to-date with exactly how long it will be until the next service at your stop. Check your bus service here – simply type in the service number, select your stop from the list and see the real-time updates.
Heading home after a day of shopping? Check the latest departure times from the city centre’s two bus stations:
Get on board a bus this festive season with simple and clear low bus fares.
- Adults will pay no more than £2 for a single bus journey, while a £5 1 day AnyBus Adult travelcard will cover unlimited bus travel within the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester until 3.59am the following day.
- Children aged five to 16 will pay no more than £1 for any single bus journey. The 1 day AnyBus Junior travelcard will cover unlimited bus travel within Greater Manchester for just £2.50 a day.
For more information, you can visit our dedicated webpage.
Perfect for beating the traffic, visiting the Christmas Markets and not having to look for a parking spot, Manchester city centre rail stations are served by both local and national services.
There are several main stations in the city centre to arrive and depart from:
You can see suggested walking routes between train and tram stops using our handy map.
Please remember to plan your journey in advance of any date you intend to travel by checking on the National Rail website.
Planned rail strikes
Please be aware that industrial action has been announced for dates over the festive period.
- Tuesday 13 December 2022 (RMT Union)
- Wednesday 14 December 2022 (RMT Union)
- Friday 16 December 2022 (RMT Union)
- Saturday 17 December 2022 (RMT Union)
On these dates, customers should expect timetables and operating hours to be significantly affected.
For up-to-date information on how industrial action may affect journeys within Greater Manchester, please visit our rail strikes webpage.
Deansgate rail station closing times
If you are catching the train to or from Deansgate station, please note that it will close at 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays for the duration of the Christmas Markets.
Dates impacted by the 6pm closure
- Friday 9 and Saturday 10 December
- Friday 16 and Saturday 17 December
The last services to call at Deansgate
- 17.22 Crewe
- 17.22 Southport
- 17.29 Liverpool Lime Street
- 17.30 Alderley Edge
- 17.33 Manchester Oxford Road
- 17.37 Blackpool North
- 17.39 Hazel Grove
- 17.48 Liverpool Lime Street
For updates on the services above, you can visit National Rail's live departures webpage.
If you usually travel to or from Deansgate after 6pm, customers are advised to use Manchester's Victoria, Oxford Road or Piccadilly stations.
You can keep up to date on the latest Rail updates by following @nationalrailenq on Twitter.
Piccadilly Gardens have taken a star turn this festive season, becoming the hub for Christmas in Manchester from Thursday 10 November until Wednesday 22 December.
Manchester will showcase the ever-popular Winter Gardens attraction in the heart of the city at Piccadilly Gardens while the markets will also return across another eight sites, offering the festive delights that the city is known for. New for 2022, the Winter Gardens will also boast a giant Nordic-themed double tipi bar for over 18s.
These will take place at St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, King Street, the Corn Exchange, Market Street and Cathedral Gardens.
Christmas Market top tips
- By bus - The proximity of the Winter Gardens to the bus stations in Piccadilly Gardens mean that we expect to see additional crowding at nearby stops. Services are operating to a normal timetable but for more information consider following your bus operator on Twitter.
- By Metrolink - The Winter Gardens is adjacent to the Metrolink stop at Piccadilly Gardens, which means that we expect to see additional crowding at this stop.