I first went to the German Christmas Market in Birmingham nine years ago so with the festive season fast approaching I thought it was a good time to reflect on my last visit a year ago. The ‘Frankfurt style’ Christmas market claims to be the biggest in the world outside of Germany and Austria with over 180 stalls so I was expecting it to be extremely busy but as it was a cold and breezy Monday morning there were surprisingly few people about.
The Christmas German Market has become a huge part of Birmingham`s annual celebrations for the past eleven years and has attracted visitors from many parts of Britain during the forty four days of its duration.The number of days the market is running for continues to grow longer every year!
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. You can not fail to get into the spirit of Christmas with the lights, colours and music of the festive season all around you.
There is no shortage of food and drink either, Pretzels, schnitzels, ½ metre long bratwursts, donuts, crepes and even a couple of hog roasts 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 at Christmas time was lost on me.
I went with the intention of picking up a couple of early Christmas presents and I was not disappointed. There were 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. Some of the prices were a little steep for my wallet but I enjoyed browsing the many stalls.
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 several glasses of Glühwein after returning from the slopes. It has now become a tradition in my home to offer guests a glass of warm 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.
Last year Chamberlain Square and the Paradise Forum were being redeveloped so the Christmas Craft Market was located in Centenary Square. It was so successful that the
fifty plus stalls are once again going to be situated in the square opposite the stunning new award winning Library.
If you get the chance go into the library and take a lift up to the roof top gardens for a free view of Birmingham. There was also a magnificent `Big Wheel` right outside the Symphony Hall. I am led to believe the wheel will be in place this coming Christmas. It offers the visitor a stunning view over the city. I went up on the wheel just as the sun was going down and the Christmas lights decorating the many stalls appeared to shine even brighter. 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 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 once again enjoyed my time at the Christmas Market because it put me in the right frame of mind for the oncoming Christmas celebrations. On my next visit I shall arrive 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.
If you have not been to the market before I would fully recommend you visit to pick up those presents, have a bite to eat and something to eat and get yourself into the Christmas spirit
As usual most of the Christmas stalls will be set up along New Street running into Victoria Square and the very popular Craft market will take place on Centenary Square.
The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Market 2016
Open daily from 16 November to 24 December 2017 from 10am to 9pm
Closed on Christmas Day
Hours: 10am – 9pm
Location: Victoria Square, New Street and Centenary Square