"Alongside a comprehensive high street line-up, Manchester has markets, boutiques and character galore."

Liverpool boasts some of the largest big-name high-street stores in 
the country.

Many of these are housed in the Liverpool ONE - a new 42-acre sheltered shopping complex, ideal for when the British weather is flexing its muscles! Likewise, the Metquarter is an indoor mall boasting names such as Molton Brown and Storm. The Cavern Walks shopping centre, situated on the famous Mathew Street, is the epicentre of the city's independents, with designer stores and one-off boutiques, including Boudoir Boutique, a gorgeous sanctuary filled with vintage collectables and funky fashions. Along Renshaw Street, Grand Central Hall is an alternative shopping mall situated in an old Methodist church and is a great place to hunt for unusual accessories for boho fashionistas.

Beatles kit

An estimated 600,000 people visit Liverpool each year because of the Beatles. While there, they spend £21 million, so as you'd expect there's lots of memorabillia to choose from - and let's face it, who doesn't know a fab four fanatic? With everything on offer from books and posters to more obscure umbrellas, bed linen and watches, you can kit your loved ones head-to-toe in John, Paul, George and Ringo!

Leeds has more than its share of quirky shops, markets and vintage fairs to peruse.

At Christmas, choice becomes even bigger, thanks to the arrival of the annual 'Christkindelmarkt' German Christmas market. With more than 30 wooden chalet stalls setting up in the city centre, offering everything from handcrafted toys and jewellery to bratwurst and glühwein, Leeds' Christkindelmarkt is not to be missed. This winter, it runs from 13 November until 20 December in the city's Millennium Square, and includes all manner of other festive attractions as well as the gift stalls - there are fairground rides and bier-kellers galore to get you in the spirit of the season.

Designer delights

Renowned as 'The Knightsbridge of the North', the city's Victoria Quarter comprises stunning Grade II-listed buildings and arcades housing some of the world's leading fashion and lifestyle brands. With top designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Louis Vuitton, as well as the iconic Harvey Nichols, this is the place to come to kit out the fashion follower in your life, with something for every budget thanks to a clever mix of high street names such as Space NK and Reiss alongside pricier designer labels.

York combines historic charm with modern style and convenience.

It's a city renowned for its exquisite architecture, cobbled streets and olde-worlde shop fronts. Consequently, it's a great place to get into the festive spirit and hunt down some exclusive Christmas gifts. The expected high- street stores are complemented by an array of small, independent boutiques selling everything from jewellery to toys and artwork.

Treasure hunt

Antiques are big business in York, and there are lots of little shops which may just have the gift you've been looking for. In particular, there's antique jewellery galore - head to the Cavendish Antiques and Collectors Centre, where more than 50 dealers trade under one roof. York is also a good place to go for books, with numerous sellers of rare, out-of-print and antique titles. Try Janette Ray booksellers for that first edition of Mum's favourite - it's bound to get you into her good books!

Glasgow's super-league shopping status was confirmed in October 2008 when it was named the best place to shop in the UK outside London's West End.

The city centre comprises a square mile of shopping nirvana, where you will find everything from high-end designers like Armani to high street staples such as Zara and Urban Outfitter. There are also plenty of one-off boutiques, and the different shopping districts - from the boho West End to the ultra-hip Merchant City - means there's plenty to explore.

Art for every pocket

The legacy of Glasgow's most famous son, artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, is easy to see around the city and inspires many a gift, from jewellery to tableware. If it's jewellery you're after, there are lots of shops in Argyll Arcade, offering everything from antiques to contemporary designs at varying prices.

Another of Glasgow's famous exports is art, thanks to the renowned Glasgow Art School. Galleries have popped up across the city, and there's something to suit every taste and budget at the Compass Gallery on West Regent Street, which has been selling up-and-coming artists' wares for more than 30 years.

Alongside a comprehensive high street line-up, Manchester has markets, boutiques and character galore.

In a city renowned for its individuality and hefty creative streak, there is something for everyone, from music fans to vintage fanatics. For an indulgent shop, head to Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, or seek out rare vintage finds at Saturday's Tib Street fashion market, where you can find retro gems. The city's Northern Quarter is home to Piccadilly Records and Vinyl Exchange, the perfect places to find additions to a music lover's collection. Nearby Afflecks is an alternative department store housing more than 50 market-style shops where you can buy the creations of fledgling fashion designers.

Christmas market

For something a bit different, head to the Imperial War Museum shop at the Manchester Quays, which sells wartime replicas, military books and camouflage items ideal for kids and grandparents alike. The Lowry, named after the city's native painter, is also close by and has a comprehensive gift shop that may just provide the perfect present for an arty auntie or mother-in-law. There's also a Christmas market that transforms the city with its wooden chalet-style stalls, selling gifts as well as mulled wine and roasted chestnuts to fuel your shopping expedition.


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