Manchester's magical Christmas Parade will be back on Sunday, December 3, and this year will have an extended route with extra special surprises. The countdown is now on for the return of the FREE festive extravaganza which wowed families on its first ever outing last year.

Filled with all the sights, sounds and sparkle that spell Christmas, the magical parade - plus an appearance from a very special guest - is guaranteed to bring some extra special Christmas cheer to the city as the festive season gets well underway. Manchester Council bosses say it will be "bigger and even better than last year" with over 400 participants.

The parade will also take an extended route so there's more chances for people to wave on the colourful participants. It will weave its way through the city centre from 1pm on Sunday, December 3.

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The route will begin at Manchester Cathedral before heading out along Deansgate. It will then turn onto St Ann's Street past the Manchester Christmas Markets and on to Cross Street, Corporation Street and Fennel Street, where the parade will end.

Santa will be on board again for the Christmas Parade

As to what visitors can expect? Think Snow Queens, Bouncing Elves and sparkling Christmas Glitter Belles, with an extra sprinkle of Candy Cane stilt walkers, Giant Nutcracker characters and Dancing Snowmen, all taking to the city streets.

There's also the prospect of huge Reindeer, Owls and Festive Dinosaurs, as well as everyone's Christmas dinner favourite Dancing Sprouts. Of course, no Christmas parade would be complete without the big red man himself and Santa Claus will take time out from his busy toy-making schedule to join in too.

There will be live music, moves, and sounds from the Global Grooves Nutcracker Bloco Band playing Santa's favourite Christmas songs to get everyone in the festive mood, along with dancers dressed in their sparkly best Christmas kit.

Adding to the festive fun this year's parade also features local school children who have taken part in 'make and move' workshop sessions to design and create some incredible parade-worthy Christmas trees and stars to show off in the parade using all the moves they've learned.

Manchester's first ever Christmas Parade brought magic to the city centre

And an extra special treat has also been lined up as part of the parade this year. In collaboration with The Lowry, there will be a special appearance from the star of the hit play Life of Pi which is at The Lowry from December 5th 2023 to January 7th 2024.

Families won't want to miss catching a glimpse during the parade of 'Richard Parker' - the life-size Bengal Tiger puppet featured in the show. Actors bring the tiger magically to life and he will stalk the streets of Manchester which will be a truly spectacular part of this year's parade.

Life of Pi's life-sized Bengal tiger will join the Christmas Parade in a huge exclusive

Based on one of the best-loved works of fiction – winner of the Man Booker Prize, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide – Life of Pi is a breath-taking new theatrical adaptation of an epic journey of endurance and hope.

Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester City Council's Christmas spokesperson, said: "Last year's very first Manchester Christmas Parade really was the heart-warming event of the season. It was one of the best things we've ever done with such a brilliant festive and fun atmosphere, full of the stuff that Christmas memories are made of.

"We all know Manchester does Christmas better than anyone else and we can't wait for this year's parade - it's going to be amazing and joyful, one for all the family. Santa has already said he wouldn't miss it for all the world. Come on down and join us!"

Date and timings

A giant snowman on last year's parade

The Manchester Christmas Parade takes place on Sunday, December 3 starting at 1pm. It is expected to last up to an hour from start to finish.

The roads are all closed off to traffic and families will be able to find spaces along the route to see all the action unfold. The event is free to attend.

Christmas Parade route and map

Map for the parade route

The route will begin at Manchester Cathedral at the far end of Deansgate at 1pm. The parade will then head along Deansgate before turning on to St Ann's Street and past St Ann's Church.

It will then head left on to Cross Street and Corporation Street. They will then turn on to Fennel Street, where the parade will end.

There will be an accessible viewing point for anyone who needs it outside Boots on Cross Street - with spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis.