UK Christmas market slammed for £9 drinks and ‘nothing to do with Christmas’

A UK Christmas market has come under fire for being too expensive and being “nothing to do with” the festive season.

Manchester’s Christmas Market has been open for almost three weeks, during which time there has been plenty of debate locally about its post-lockdown return.

Many people have moaned online about the price of goods, the range of stalls and a lack of anything very Christmassy to buy, Manchester Evening News reported.

One reviewer said pricing at some Manchester Christmas Market stalls has “spoilt the whole Christmas ethos”.

Another fumed there was “nothing to do with Xmas” about it.

On Tripadvisor Karen A laid into the market, suggesting it was a money making spectacle only.

“Absolute rip off,” she said.

“Nothing to do with Xmas it’s all bars and food stalls at extortionate prices. Probably good for a night out but you will certainly need to have a lot of money to spend. So disappointed.”

The negative reviews have been coming thick and fast, with one person suggesting it’d be cheaper to go to Germany for the real thing.

Another claimed they were “ripped off” when their two cups of cocoa came to £16, only for them to return later that day to find them at £9 a pop.

Someone else said: “I spent £20 near enough on a vegan hotdog (which I have never tried) and salt beef sandwich which looked vile when it were being cooked by the way.”

The critics have been harsh on the market overall, giving it a 2.5 out of 5 rating on Tripadvisor.

Chris E questioned whether it was a “Christmas market or food festival?”

He wrote: “95% of the stalls were serving food related products: many to eat then and there. What about some Christmas related stalls?

“By the trade I saw the stalls doing it will be very difficult to find stall holders next year. Very very poor,” he concluded.

KevKeely also threw in some verbal punches, accusing the stall holders of serving “poorly prepared food, poorly presented and for the Curryvurst, disgracefully meagre portions.”

Gordon M fumed about no prices being displayed on the boards of some stalls – as he says he found to his cost when he bought a Greek gyros for £10.

He urged Manchester Council to “get their act together” and make sure prices are displayed.

Gordon concluded: “We should at least know what the board price is prior to purchase. Spoilt the whole Christmas ethos.”

There were some who chose to see the brighter side of things, with many saying they had a “fab time” at the weekend at the markets.

Michelle Scott said: “A pint of lager or cider was £5 with a £2 deposit if you don’t take back the plastic glass.

“I don’t think that was too bad considering they are in the town centre. I went on Saturday night it was fab. Had a great time time.”

Robin Boardman advised shopping around for the best bar prices.

He said: “If you just grab the first thing you see, it probably does work out as expensive.”

Anna Scott said: “Had a great weekend at the Christmas Markets. Can’t see what people are moaning about the prices, (but then I’m used to Southern prices!!)”.

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council said that there are three more food and drink stalls this year compared to last year.

They highlighted the large areas of predominantly gift stalls on St Ann’s Square, Exchange Street, Corn Exchange, New Cathedral and Market Street as places where people can buy Christmas gifts.

They said that customers may be sticking “to just one or two different market locations during their trip to the markets and therefore don’t always see what’s on offer across the whole market and the nine different sites it incorporates”.

On the issue of pricing, the council is not involved in the prices set by individual stallholders, but that they are asked to display their prices as “they’re subject to the same trading standards legislation as any other retail business”.

Councillor Pat Karney, lead spokesperson for Christmas at Manchester City Council, said: “Of course we’re very conscious of the cost-of-living crisis and how it is affecting everyone at the moment.

“We know that not everyone has the cash to splash out on a hot chocolate or gluhwein which is why our Christmas offer isn’t just about the markets this year.

“The city centre is at its sparkling best at the moment with our famous big Santa in St Peter’s Square and a fabulous Christmas lights trail that includes walk-through baubles and stars, Christmas trees, and a twinkling Manchester bee – all of which are free to discover and enjoy.

“We’ve also got a fantastic programme of free fun for families each weekend between now and Christmas with a series of magical Festive Sundays funded in partnership with city centre business partners, and, in a festive first for the city, the first ever Manchester Christmas Parade which is coming up on Sunday 11 December.”