I first went to the German Christmas Market in Birmingham about seven years ago so with the festive season fast approaching I thought it was a good time to make a second visit.
The ‘Frankfurt style’ Christmas market claims to be is the biggest in the world outside of Germany and Austria with over 180 stalls so I was expecting it to be extremely busy.
There were still four weeks until the big day itself and it was a cold, breezy Monday morning but I was still surprised to find so few people about.
The Christmas ` German` Market has become a big part of Birmingham`s annual celebrations for over ten years and has visitors from many parts of Britain during the forty one days of its duration.
The wooden stalls brighten up the streets with their brightly coloured lights and decorations.
The presentation of objects are also carefully arranged to provide an enticing, attractive charm to each of the stalls.
The colourful models and paintings of Christmas characters such as Father Christmas and reindeers all add magic to the spectacle.
There is no shortage of food and drink, Pretzels, schnitzels, ½ metre long bratwursts, donuts, crepes and even a hog roast can all be washed down with an assortment of hot and cold drinks.
Glühwein, weissbeer, mulled cider, flavoured honey drinks, Rum punch or tasty hot chocolate can all be found on the brightly coloured stalls. For the more adventurous you can even grab yourself a Reindeer or Ostrich burger. Quite what they have to do with Germany or Britain was lost on me.
I went with the intention of picking up a couple of early Christmas presents and I was given a wide variety of high quality items to choose from. Crystal lamps, candles, rugs, leatherwork, mugs, soaps, wooden toys and hats jostling for position amongst the food and drink stalls. If only the prices were a little lower!
Having sampled the meaty delights of a German Bratwurst in a Brötchen (roll) I then enjoyed a glass of warm Glühwein.
When I went skiing in Austria some years ago I had enjoyed a glass or two after returning from the slopes and in my own home it has become a tradition to offer guests Glühwein at Christmas. This one tasted as though it had the right mixture of red wine, cinnamon, sugar, oranges and cloves. A delightful way to spend a morning.
Having made my way up New Street to Victoria Square I was disappointed to find that Chamberlain Square and the Paradise Forum was being redeveloped so I assumed that the market had ended at this point.
I was about to make my way back down New Street when I noticed a sign hanging from the imposing Town Hall stating that there were fifty more stalls in Centenary Square the other side of the development.
I made my way across the road and up some steps to the other side to find the Craft Market and an impressive ice rink being watched over by the award winning New Birmingham Library.
There is also a magnificent `Big Wheel` right outside the Symphony Hall. I was looking over the city in no time just as the sun was going down and the Christmas lights decorating the many stalls appeared to shine even brighter and the city itself began to sparkle through the darkness. It was a spectacular viewing point from which to take in much of the city. I decided against the ice skating for obvious reasons!
I was glad that I had made the extra effort to find this section of the Market. Here I found local craftsmen and women selling hand –crafted items as well as regional food and drink including sausages, home-made chutneys and cheeses plus real ale from local micro-breweries.
I had enjoyed my time at the Market and it put me in the right frame f mind for the oncoming Christmas celebrations but on my next visit I shall come later in the day to get the full effect of the Christmas lights and a greater atmosphere with bigger crowds out for the evening festivities.
The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Market 2016
Open daily from November 17th to December 29th
Closed on Christmas Day
Hours: 10am – 9pm
Location: Victoria Square, New Street