Why bother travelling to Christmas markets across Europe when the UK’s second city hosts the biggest authentic German Christmas market outside Germany and Austria? Now in its 13th year, Brum is the place to come to for bratwursts, beer and Christmas cheer.
Taking in almost the whole of the city centre, the 2013 Frankfurt Christmas Market & Craft Fair, to give Birmingham’s market its full name, runs until 22 December, so get here quickly.
Birmingham is twinned with Frankfurt, Germany’s 5th biggest city, and part of that arrangement involves Frankfurters coming over for a month every year to sell their wares from wooden huts. I’ve always wondered if Frankfurt gets an annual Brummie market in return?
Over 180 huts occupy the length of New Street from the Rotunda to Victoria Square, with the Craft Fair in the adjacent Chamberlain Square. This year sees the return of the Birmingham Big Wheel outside the new library in Centenary Square where there is also an ice-rink.
The capsules in the ferris wheel are not glass covered pods like in the London Eye, so you might want to keep your hat on (£4 a ride).
There are plenty of stalls selling sausages, chocolates, sweets and cakes as well as German beer and mulled wine so you won’t go hungry or thirsty. I’ve worked just down the road from the market for the past seven Christmases now, and am surprised how little it has changed over the years – the same stands and staff occupy the same positions each year – I head to stand number 95 for a Kasewurst (cheese sausage) every Friday of the market.
You can pick up decorations, toys, jewellery, hats and candles, and be entertained by singers and bands on a stage as well as by the infamous singing moose.
If you get bored of German beer or need warming up, there are plenty of decent pubs nearby – try the Post Office Vaults on New Street, and you can’t go wrong with any of the pubs along John Bright Street.
The good thing about Birmingham is it’s slap-bang in the middle of the country, and pretty easy to get to from wherever you live. If you arrive by train, New Street station is seconds from the action. Check out train times and prices at thetrainline – you can get here direct in under 1 hour 30 minutes from both London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly.
Coming from further afield? Birmingham International Airport (BHX) is about a ten minute train ride from New Street.
Not going to make it this year? The market is on every year and always starts on a Thursday in mid-November. The 2013 market opened on 14 November – I can (almost) guarantee the 2014 Frankfurt Christmas Market will open on Thursday 13 November.