Whether you love them or hate them, everyone in Manchester has an opinion on the Christmas Markets.

Some people relish sampling exciting new flavours from one of the many food stalls, others adore cosying up in one of the bars with a warming mulled wine or hot chocolate.

But every time the markets come to town, there is always one aspect in particular that seems to rub people up the wrong way.

READ MORE : Manchester Christmas Markets 2021 dates, times, locations and everything you need to know

Manchester's Christmas Markets often divide Mancunians

Adjectives such as 'expensive' and 'overpriced' made regular appearances, with bratwursts coming in at £6 and mulled wines costing £8 (including a returnable £3 deposit for the special mugs).

But the markets remain a popular date night destination - so I decided to go along with my girlfriend to see how much a romantic evening at the Manchester Christmas Markets really costs.

As our train from Bolton was delayed (typical) we arrived into the city centre at around 7.20pm and made our way to the main tourist attraction - a humongous light-up Santa in St Peter's Square.

The nearest markets to Santa are on King Street so that's where we started, before making our way to St Ann's Square with something delicious for tea on our minds.

But it was not actually the waft of sausages or pancakes that first caught my girlfriend's attention, it was instead some bath bombs, which admittedly did smell absolutely incredible.

The huge Santa on St Peter's Square

Already very hungry and with many more stalls to see, I told her we would loop back and have a look again after getting something to eat.

This proved to be a grave error but we will come onto that later.

After turning the corner, our noses twitched at the unmistakable aroma of one of our favourite places to eat in Manchester - Northern Quarter fried chicken specialists Yard & Coop who have a stall on St Ann's Square this year.

Me with my Yard and Coop Christmas tray
Me looking incredibly happy with my Yard and Coop order

For the purposes of this experiment and in the interests of fairness, I decided that I would pay for both of us, but almost immediately regretted my decision after discovering that a tray of fried chicken and chips would set me back £10.

We both got the 'Christmas tray' - buttermilk fried chicken tenders, fries, cranberry ketchup, and chicken gravy.

After waiting around for about 15 minutes and listening to several market-goers remark 'bloody expensive, innit', the food arrived and we started to tuck in.

A Yard and Coop Christmas tray with distinct lack of cranberry ketchup

As you can see from the photograph, there is a distinct lack of cranberry ketchup. The chicken gravy, however, was absolutely sensational and actually had little chunks of tender chicken hidden within.

I enjoyed my chicken as always but was it worth £20 for two portions? I'm not sure it was.

Our tea was also spoiled by the revelation that some of the gift stalls were already closing their shutters at 8pm so, to my girlfriend's dismay, my promise to loop back round and buy her a bath bomb had to be broken.

We drowned our sorrows with a cup of mulled wine each, which in total cost me a cool £16.

As explained earlier, this price is deceiving as you pay a £3 deposit for the cup and are supposed to get it back when you return it.

Signs around us made it clear that we could not take the alcoholic drinks out of the little hut we found ourselves in so it was about 8.15pm by the time we walked to our next destination.

Drinking from the 'cute' Christmas Market mug

Fancying something a little sweeter, we made our way to Exchange Square.

A frankly ridiculous queue put us off getting a crepe so we opted to get our sweet fix in the form of a boozy hot chocolate.

After walking past what appeared to be an impromptu street music performance, we headed into the stylish Bar No3 .

We returned our cups and to my absolute horror, the bar man tried to charge me £16 - with the mug prices on top again.

I have to admit that if I had a few more mulled wines inside me, I probably would not have noticed but thankfully I was able to flag his error and the price went down to a much more palatable £10.

As far as wooden huts go, Bar No3 was a nice one and seemed to be a destination where a few couples had gathered.

With the night still young (in our minds at least) we headed off towards our final destination - Piccadilly Gardens.

This year, the area has been transformed into the 'Winter Gardens' and is the main food and drink hub of the markets.

It also has a one-way system and it took us longer than it probably should to find where you're supposed to actually get into the food and drink arena.

Winter Gardens is proving very popular - if you make it in on time that is

When we did actually find it, we were hit with the disappointing news that the stalls had closed for the night.

I have to say that 9pm does seem quite early to close the markets, especially if you live outside of Manchester and have been working that day.

Dessert-less and with our date at a premature end, we dejectedly made our way to Manchester Piccadilly station, before embarking on the notorious trek to Platform 14.

So all in all I spent £46 (or £23 each) to spend an hour and a half at the markets and it got us food and two drinks apiece. With the stalls closed, we also had to keep the mugs but they're quite cute anyway.

Christmas Markets stalls on Exchange Square

It is probably very easy to spend more - either if you're making a day of it or you realise you're short on time and neck drinks rather than sip them leisurely as we did.

Then with activities such as ice skating (£13 per adult) and gifts, it can soon start to add up.

At the end of the day, if you like the markets and have at least £50 set aside for them, then you'll probably have yourself a great time.

On the other hand, if you're already in the camp that the markets are an overpriced, then hearing me moan about paying £16 for mulled wine and £20 for chicken probably isn't going to change your mind.

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