LIVERPOOL has got Christmas all wrapped up when it comes to a one-stop weekend wonderland.

In well under two hours from Bradford we'd motored down the M62, found a handy car park, unpacked and were sipping chilled Champagne in our colourful room at the contemporary and chic Hotel Indigo.

With cheeks rosied by champers and clutching our Christmas shopping lists we headed off to the merry Christmas markets outside the iconic landmark of St George's Hall to keep a date with the world's most loveable green ogre Shrek.

We had tickets for DreamWorks Lights, a UK-first 3D walkthrough lantern experience, on until January 15, featuring more than 100 huge glowing figures and 20 scenes from three of the major Hollywood studio’s catalogue of animated blockbusters.

Alongside Shrek and Princess Fiona and Donkey of course there were characters from Kung Fu Panda and the Penguins of Madagascar - it was going to be a fun weekend ahead.

Beyond the steps of St George's Hall lay the Christmas markets with more than 40 festive stalls selling arts, food and crafts from all over the world attracting crowds.

After a browse amid the seasonal bustle we headed off to The Shankly's Bastion Bar & Restaurant for a delicious afternoon tea washed down with more bubbly - thankfully we'd worked up an appetite. The tiny truffle logs, delicately iced mince pies and santa-belted sponges were scrumptious and the brioche, croissant and wrap sandwiches were an absolute treat - too much to finish in one sitting, but neatly boxed up for us to takeaway. This fine hotel is a tribute to the life and career of one of football's finest managers Bill Shankly, a true Liverpool legend. The afternoon tea which came beautifully presented on a replica miniature wooden picnic bench, is a legend in its own right.

Revived and ready to hit the shops we set off to lively Liverpool ONE, it's a massive vibrant complex of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues packed with style and not far from the waterfront and the iconic Grade I Listed Albert Dock being transformed during the hours of darkness into a canvas for a 4D projection spectacular and home to yet more shops, restaurants and museums as well as the Tate Liverpool art gallery and The Beatles Story.

Bar Hütte, an Alpine-inspired bar below a giant heart-decorated 30m Christmas tree in Liverpool ONE was rocking with a spot of carol-oke and we stopped to take a selfie at a LEGO Santa Express made from more than 5,000,000 bricks in nearby Paradise Street, well who could resist?

Later and laden with our ever-increasing bags we headed back in the direction of our hotel stopping off at Etsu, on The Strand, one of the most popular restaurants in the city, serving authentic Japanese food. It's an intimate space that seats just 48 people so booking is a must for anyone wanting to guarantee a taste of what the chefs here create with more than 70 years experience between them.

Further into the night as the streets filled out with good humoured fun-seekers we arrived back at Hotel Indigo, we kicked off our shoes to relax ready for a good night's sleep but not before settling down to a bit of Wi-Fi connection and TV - bed with a view!

Our modern room with its comfy bed and mini-fridge was a joy to indulge in - a must mention was the powerful rainfall shower with a head jet the size of a dinner-plate.

Talking of dinner plates, downstairs is the hotel’s acclaimed Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill which wows foodies with a menu designed by the man himself, there's also a cocktail lounge.

Refreshed the next morning we could have ordered breakfast to our room but we went down to the plush restaurant instead to join the other guests partaking in a self-serve feast of fruit, salmon, pastries and full English - fuel a plenty for the day ahead.

It was freezing outside as 3,000 Santas dashed past us,their red coats contrasting under the clear blue sky as a compere on a tannoy humoured them along to the finishing line. There's pride in this city.

A short walk from the hotel is Pier Head which will stay frozen until January 3 for its annual Ice Festival which makes it a cool attraction with its ice rink and inviting Apres Lodge serving up delicious mulled wine and hot chocolate. Families with little ones were enjoying the fairground rides and a human snowglobe experience!

Enjoying the air, we walked further along the waterfront to the historic Grade 1 listed Albert Dock which is now a shopping and leisure complex that houses The Beatles Story, Tate Liverpool, the International Slavery Museum and a parade of restaurants and bars.

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch. We wound our way up through the network of shops until we reached Bold Street and The Italian Club. This charismatic eatery is sandwiched between bohemian shops. Sat in this delightful deli restaurant with its stripped floors and a fresh menu of paninis, pizza and pasta, we were reminded of a place in Volterra, Tuscany we'd paid repeat visits to because the food was just so good. We started with giant olives to nibble on, then Millie went for the most amazing spinach stuffed ravioli while a pasta with chicken and white wine sauce was my choice. We ate early on the Sunday and the tables soon filled up with families chatting over food - a true taste of Italy.

A day and more than a half into full-on Christmas shopping and we were ready for a pamper at Harvey Nichols Beauty Bazaar in Manesty's Lane, back in Liverpool ONE. This is the only store of its kind run by Harvey Nichol's, we were told by our Hourglass make-over consultant who smoothed away lines and blemishes to a picture-perfect result! There's an Express manicure at Nails inc here - other known names NARS, YSL, Bobbi Brown, Chanel, Benefit, Clinique, Lancôme, Estee Lauder, Laura Mercier and Tom Ford. There's also a hair salon a MAC standalone service and a Champagne Bar which was fabulously sparkly - the cream tea was pure pleasure, Millie had an Elderflower Fizz Mocktail seeing as she would be driving us home later - payback time for years of being a mum taxi.

As dusk came and went, the city centre lit up with a Snowflake Trail of lights, atmospheric sounds and sculptures to follow, you can pick up a map with clues to be solved and prizes to be won #snowflaketrail until January 3 but for us there was still more shopping to be done until it was time to collect our suitcase from Hotel Indigo, get our discounted parking verified by reception staff and head to the secure car park - we saved about £9 getting our parking ticket stamped so had only paid £16 for the whole weekend, not bad at all.

With two weeks to go until December 25, Liverpool comes personally recommended as a great way to combine Christmas shopping with a top leisure experience. Here's wishing you a Very Merry Merseytime!

Kathie Griffiths stayed at Hotel Indigo Liverpool, 10 Chapel Street Liverpool, L3 9AG where a room for two with breakfast can start from as little as £60 depending on deals, availability or events in the city. Go to

Etsu authentic Japanese restaurant is at 25 The Strand, Liverpool, L2 0XJ

The Italian Club is at 85 Bold Street, Liverpool, L1 4HF

Beauty Bazaar, Harvey Nichols, 16 Manesty’s Lane, Liverpool ONE, L1 3DL offers an Express Manicure at Nails inc. Champagne Bar is £28 and includes a glass of Champagne or soft alternative. Makeovers at any of the colour brands are £40 and includes a glass of Prosecco and £35 to redeem on products, available at NARS, YSL, Bobbi Brown, Chanel, Benefit, Clinique, Hourglass, Lancôme, Estee Lauder, Laura Mercier and Tom Ford. Makeovers are also available at MAC, however MAC have a standalone service and price list.

Enjoy The Bastion’s delicious afternoon tea at The Shankly with tea or a glass of bubbly from £19.95

Tickets to Liverpool’s Pier Head Ice Festival cost Adults £8 and children aged 17 and under £6. Visit

Tickets to Dreamworks cost from £8.00. Visit