It was a fittingly chilly morning as I disembarked in Manchester Airport for my first festive encounter of the year; a preview of Coronation Street The Tour’s Christmas on the Cobbles. Christmas isn’t just another time of year for me, I love absolutely everything about it. I’m a mulled wine making, carol singing, mince pie munching, decoration amassing snow globe of festive cheer, and so you can imagine how combining that with a trip to the cobbles would have me and my Christmas jumper more than sufficiently excited.
When I arrived, I was whisked into the Green Room from which tour guide Dom brought me on a whistle stop tour of the internal sets. As I had visited in April, there was no need for me to experience the full tour again, so Dom pointed out the things that had changed for Christmas. In the costume department were Gary and Chesney’s festive tree-selling outfits and a number of wedding dresses, Tracy’s being the most recent. We then watched a video montage which has also been given a festive makeover, showing a number of scenes of Christmasses past. The sight of Roy and Hayley gave me an instant lump in my throat at the memory of what was unfolding this time last year.
Each of the sets have also been decorated so we can encounter the Platt’s the Dobbs-Browne’s, the Rovers Return, Underworld, and even Martha’s Barge as they would look at Christmas. Already appearing smaller than you might expect on first encounter, they looked extra cosy decked with tinsel, trees and baubles. With preparations underway for its unveiling to the public the next day, set designers busied themselves by making lists and checking them twice, while others chatted about plans and preparations. While it doesn’t form part of the tour, I was lucky enough to be allowed to take five in the place of many’s a dramatic Christmas, the Platts’.
Once through the internal part, I was brought behind the doors of the bistro which opened out on to the Street, and what a sight awaited me. Snowy rooftops, Christmas lights and decorations, and a choir of children singing carols filled the senses, as well as a lovely surprise which I’d rather not spoil for those planning to attend, but which made it all the more magical. Everybody remarked that it felt a little colder, probably than it really was, and we all pulled our coats a little tighter.
Tour guide Matt took over at this point, and explained that in addition to the indoor tour being tailored with Christmas stories, there will be a seasonal tour of the outdoor set at no additional cost which starts at Roy’s Rolls and makes its way around the Street. As we received a taster of this tour, Matt revealed that the decorations have been taken straight from the new set at Media City UK where filming of this year’s Christmas episodes has now finished. This means that while visiting the old set, visitors will be seeing the authentic decorations used in the show just this year.
As for the snow, which I’m told withstands rain, it’s remarkably realistic, both in the way it looks and compacts underfoot, and it can even be made into snowballs which I couldn’t resist successfully putting to the test. It was still being applied to Victoria Court as we wandered about, so we got to see the work in action. I urged readers back in April not to forget the ginnel, and the same applies this time round.
While it unfortunately wasn’t up and running in time for my visit, I’m assured the scent of Christmas will be in the air for arriving visitors with Christmas berries, cinnamon, chocolate orange and Christmas trees giving a “multi-sensory experience” at various points along the tour.
In addition to 977 glittering baubles, 800 tonnes of snow, over 10,000 fairy lights and 385 hours of Christmas music, I’m told that over 50,000 mince pies will be served to visitors, and the post box will be open for the first time to send your letter to Santa.
Aside from the many festive trimmings, I noticed one great addition to the tour since April, and that is a list of names of former occupants and their years of residence in the windows of each of the houses on the Street. The shop contained within the Medical Centre has also been expanded with a wider range of products on sale, including our own Glenda’s book A Perfect Duet. This is also where you can purchase the picture taken of you in the Rovers Return, and the festive cardboard holder is a beautiful detail.
Christmas on the Cobbles runs from 22 November to 11 January with twilight tours on Fridays and Saturdays until 7pm, and tickets are available here. If you visit between 13 and 24 December, the twelve days of Christmas, your trip will be made even more atmospheric as you will be serenaded by choirs, brass bands and singing groups. A trip to Coronation Street The Tour is a magical experience in itself, and the Christmas theme makes it even more so. Even if you’ve been before, it is tailored to the extent that you are assured a different experience throughout. I topped off my day with a trip to Manchester Christmas Markets, and I’m now fizzing with festive cheer. Whilst it’s still only November, Merry Christmas to you all!