Markets, grown-up grottos, thought-provoking art and partying hard – here are the must-see’s and do’s for December.

Tis the season for catching-up, saying yes and celebrating the year. Liverpool is going full on festive with twinkle and glitter at every turn, but amid the merriment there’s still time for reflection and spreading the cheer. Here’s our December hotlist.

Christmas markets

Gone are the days when we gazed enviously at the European Christmas markets. We too can pretend we prefer our wine warm and spicy, huddle together with a massive bratwurst and get our mitts on some hand-crafted gifts. We’re spoilt this year with loads to choose from:

St George’s Plateau

It’s hard to miss the 40 or so cabins standing in the shadow of St George’s Hall. As well as the usual bars, bratwurst, gifts and roasting chestnuts keep an eye out for the pie stall – not only will you get a tasty pie made by Homebaked Anfield but all the profits go to Liverpool Homeless FC. More here.

Queen Avenue

Queen Avenue is one of the city’s prettiest whatever the time of year but it gets just a bit more magical at Christmas time. And on 13 December it will host its first ever Christmas market – expect fine wine, great pizza, and the avenues traders open till 8pm. More here

Baltic Triangle Christmas gift market

Sunday 2 December sees the regular Baltic arts market get a Christmas special. Grab a mulled wine and check out shed loads of local and independent makers. Printers, painters, potters and all the usual street-food slingers under one cosy roof. Details here.

Albert Dock Makers Market

Stuck for something unusual to buy? Avoid the high-street scramble and head to the docks on the 9 and 16 December and pick something up from a local independent business instead. Rumour has it the food and drink on offer will be epic too.

Winter Arts Market – Anglican Cathedral

Settings don’t come more spectacular than this and there will be a whopping 200 art, food and vintage stalls taking over the Cathedral on the 1 December. There will be kid’s craft workshops and performances from the Cathedral choir throughout the day too. Info here.

Finca @ the Bagelry

It could be down to the lads awesome showing on Million Pound Menu, it could be the promise of cocktails, or it could just be the hope that there’s lashings of their unbelievable caramel sauce on the menu… but the tickets for Finca’s pop-up residence at The Bagelry are selling like hot Cubanos. Get yours quick if you want a Finca feast to remember. Tickets.

Baltic dog grotto

Dogs are for Christmas, not just for life and Merseyside Dogs Home have arranged for Santa Paws himself to come to town for one day only. All dogs are welcome whether they’ve been naughty or nice this year – dress them in a Christmas costume and we reckon all slipper and bin incidents will be forgotten. Details here.

Now that’s what I call Xmas

Camp and Furnace know how to do Christmas. And on the 15 December, there will be wall to wall Christmas bangers, indoor snow, sing-a-longs, Santa hats and surprises galore as the furnace turns proper festive. X Factors LMA Choir will also be performing live!

Give the gift of independents

Stocking filler, easy to stick in a card, blatant plug… whatever you call it, the Independent Liverpool card makes a great gift. And the great news is that it’s on sale all December. Usually £15 for one or £20 for two, grab one for £10 or two for £15. Year-round savings and year-round cheer for independent business. Buy them here.

St Luke’s Winter Wonderland

The Bombed Out Church is going full on family-friendly festive this year. Throughout December it’s going to be transformed into a Winter Wonderland including Mrs Claus’s Art Studio, a silent disco, Elf Workshop and Santa is going to be in residence too. Plus the promise of mulled wine should keep any less than festive parents happy. Info here.

Spread the festive cheer

One of the best things about Liverpool is its heart. Loads of people do amazing work throughout the year to help those going through tough times. If among the spending, feasting and gifting you want to help someone not having a very merry Christmas there’s plenty of ways you can. Give a gift to The Whitechapel Centre, donate to the Pyjama Party, or just knock on a neighbour you’ve not seen in a while.

Get Lost In A Secret Winter Garden At Croxteth Hall

Fun lovers and families are invited to step into the beautiful Victorian surroundings of Croxteth Hall and Gardens this December, where a magical, illuminated adventure awaits. Lantern Company, renowned for their extraordinary illuminated events and parades the world over, are back in town with a brand-new illuminations extravaganza called The Secret Winter Garden – created especially for Croxteth Hall. Tickets.

Bido Lito! x Liquidation Christmas Music Quiz

The annual quizmass shenanigans return to Constellations this year on the 12 December with all funds raised going to MIND and The Whitechapel Centre. Bring your mates, your music know-how (expect anything from ABBA to Zappa) and throw on a festive knit. The competition and the prizes are big so tickets usually sell quick. Tickets here.

Spirit of Christmas at The Philharmonic

The annual December concerts at the Phil are a Liverpool tradition. Classic carols, Christmas classics seasonal readings, and the incredible orchestra. Bring your best singing voice and the biggest bah humbug you know – we guarantee they will leave full of festive cheer.

Angel of Knives – Anglican Cathedral

Thought-provoking, heart-breaking, hard-hitting – this 27-foot-high angel is made of 100,000 blades confiscated by or surrendered to police forces across the UK. This arresting artwork manages to be both a stark reminder of knife crime and a striking tribute to those affected by it. Info.

Miracle on Seel Street

Why should kids get all the grotto fun? The guys at Miracle on Seel Street think adults deserve some magic too so have opened their doors again above Salt Dog Slims to spread the cheer. Book in to this cosy, twinkly, yuletide retreat for Christmas cocktails, festive films, and plenty of pigs in blankets. Tickets.

Christmas at the Palm House

The Palm House December programme is stuffed fuller than your dad after Christmas dinner. Think choirs, garland workshops, festive film nights, kids’ chocolate parties and Christmas sing-a-longs – and the tropical temperatures will keep you warm whatever the weather. 

Spymonkey’s A Christmas Carol

Head to the Playhouse for a Victorian Christmas and a familiar story like you’ve never seen it before. Spymonkey are a theatre company that put on ‘pantos of the perverse’ and this playful, fast-paced madcap production is a hit of festive silliness with a big heart.

Fiesta Bombarda NYE intergalactic carnival

Last year NYE at the Invisible Wind Factory was a sell-out. If a mad trip into a carnival cosmos is the way you want to see in 2019 walk this way, as it’s going to be full on intergalactic with Fiesta Bombarda. Get dressed up, go wild and dance to some of the city’s best musicians. In the light of what’s been a bonkers 2018 it’ll all probably seem pretty normal. Tickets.

Go and experience pigs in blankets tater tots

Christmas is all about over-indulgence and pigs in blankets. We’ve found a way to do both! Head to Trailer Trash Xmas at Baltic Market for this wonderful plate of food and thanks us later.

Watch A Festive Favourite At St George’s Hall

There’s no better way of getting into the festive spirit than curling up with mulled wine and a mince pie and watching your favourite Christmas film. The Luna Winter Cinema will run from 17th-23rd December at the beautiful St. George’s Hall in Liverpool. More here.

Visit The World’s Oldest Grotto

From Saturday, 10th November – Christmas Eve, the city will see the return of the magical Christmas fairyland at its new home in St John’s Market as families will be invited to visit the new and improved grotto and experience the story of Christmas. It’s the grotto’s 139th year so they’ve got the hang of it by now. Info here.

Test Your Strength At An Outdoor Carnival

Ladies and Gentlemen! Roll up, roll up, the magnificent Big Top is coming to town and is about to take residence at Cain’s Brewery Village with the arrival of Albus Wolfgang’s ‘Spectaculum’. From 1stNovember you will be able to release your inner child and enjoy all the fun of the fair and the thrill of the circus as you revel in classic carnival games including Hook-a-Duck, Ring Toss, Passe Boule, Tin Can Alley and everyone’s favourite – the Coconut Shy! www.spectaculumliverpool.co.uk

Do Your Late Night Shopping At Red Brick Hangar

Nestled deep within the heart of the cultural quarter known as the Baltic Triangle, Red Brick Vintage sprouted out of the skeleton of Cains Brewery Village and has now blossomed into a cultural hub, thanks to the owners that devotedly transformed the once abandoned warehouse back in January 2016, into a loving community where Liverpool-based businesses can get a leg-up and make an impact in the current cooperate climate. Every Thursday up until Christmas you can go and do your late night shopping. Perfect chance to shop local.

Go Cop The New Lost Art Winter Collection

Lost Art are releasing their winter collection in style with their usual selectors, big DJs and more. Head to the first floor of The Merchant on 1st December from mid-day onwards to support this incredible local brand making international waves.

Get Cosy In A Winter Igloo

The guys and girls behind Liberte, the chic place to drink in Liverpool over the road from The Three Graces are reportedly getting some winter igloo’s for their rooftop space. Imagine lying in one of them whilst Wham! softly soothes out the speakers.

Fundraising For Yemen

The scale of devastation and famine in Yemen right now is absolutely unbelievable. According to the UN, the number of Yemenis in danger of starving to death would rise from the current figure of 8.4 million to 18.4 million by the end of December. 18.4 million! Let that sink in a second. Liverpool’s indies are all coming together on 15th December and will be collecting at their individual venue. More info.

Bottomless Xmas Dinner

Christmas – it’s ALL about the excess right?  Hooray for excess – and hooray for Baltic Social’s Bottomless Xmas dinner. Expect all the festive faves – from prawn cocktail and pate starters to the ultimate festive turkey feast, as many pigs in blankets as you can possibly eat and an endless supply of prosecco and beer for your 2 hour sitting. Veggie version available too of course. Details here.

Shit Indie Disco Mad Friday Special

It’s the annual Shit Indie Disco Christmas Party and it’s on a FRIDAY! Wrap your ties around your head, get out the mistletoe, open the Bailey’s and get ready to sing loads of Indie bangers and Christmas hits all night. Pogues Fairytale of New York on the hour, every hour (if we feel like it/everyone is still singing). Tickets here.

Kazimier Arkade Shopping Emporium

Save the date as The KazimierInvisible Wind Factory — and Make. North Docks! — join up with 60+ local traders, sellers, makers & bakers to offer a Seasonal Marketplace, including one-of-a kind pieces from IWF Studios members. Entry is free, doors open at 11am and it’s on 9th December. See you then!