There are fewer than six weeks to go before December 25 and the gift-buying season is now in full swing.
Our habits are changing though and folk are increasingly drawn to special Christmas markets, some of which have already launched and others will be opening up in the coming days and weeks.
And there are plenty to choose from in the North West, some of which are in Wigan borough. Here is a sample:
* Wigan’s Standishgate, Friday November 25 to Tuesday December 20.
The markets, which will operate between 10.30am and 5pm with later opening hours to 7pm on selected days, will include mulled wine, minced pies, seasonal sweets like gingerbread and crepes along with a range of international goods such as freshly served German bratwurst sausages. They will also showcase handmade goods, accessories, household items, clothing and much more.
* Standish Market Place and Cross Street Saturday December 3, 11am until 8pm.
The market will feature a range of market stalls, an indoor craft fair until 5pm, a special Santa’s Grotto, live music and entertainment, a snow globe, a Christmas trail around Standish and a beer tent.
* Leigh’s Bradshawgate, now until Saturday November 19, 10.30am until 5pm.
Shoppers can enjoy mulled wine, minced pies, seasonal sweets like gingerbread and crepes along with a range of international goods. There will also be a variety of stalls selling handmade goods, accessories, household items and clothing.
* Manchester, Albert Square, November 10 to December 20, 10am to 9pm and then from 10am to 6pm on the closing day on Wednesday, December 21. All other market zones - which takes in Brazennose Street, St Ann’s Square, King Street, Exchange Street, Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, the Corn Exchange, Market Street, and Cathedral Gardens - opened this week 10am until December 20. This year’s newest addition, The Rink at Cathedral Gardens, is now open until January 7 from 11am until 9pm daily, only closing on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
* Manchester’s Winter Wonderland, Event City, December 10 to January 2. Families are invited to a host activities, including Christmas themed rides and attractions such as classic bumper cars and a carousel. There will also be a range of shows including a Christmas circus and the best-loved Basil Brush Show, plus a host of food and drinks stalls.
* Liverpool St George’s Hall, from Friday November 18, 11am until 9pm and 11am until 5pm on Sundays. The Ice Festival took over the Pier Head as of yesterday, with an undercover ice rink and exhilarating rides and entertainment, as well as food outlets, bars and cafes. The traditional markets are open outside St George’s Hall, from November 18, 11am until 9pm and 11am until 5pm on Sundays. From December 1, Jack Frost will be weaving his icy magic to create the city’s own winter festival of light, interactive window displays and a trail of sculptural installations from the region’s artists.
Elsewhere in the region further north, you can enjoy festive markets in Preston, Blackburn, Burnley, Blackpool, Lancaster, Clitheroe, Garstang, Colne and Whalley.