The annual German street market is making a welcome return to the city, writes Brett Gibbons.
The countdown to the festive season is signalled by the return of Birmingham’s annual Frankfurt Christmas market with traders already preparing to open for business.
The first stallholders have already begun to arrive from Germany and stalls will commence trading next week.
Now in its 10th year, the Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest outdoor event of its kind in the UK and has become a huge favourite with city shoppers and visitors from outside the region and abroad.
Based in Victoria Square and New Street, 180 stalls will transform the city centre into a winter wonderland for a four-and-a-half week period.
Visitors can enjoy the delights of German mulled wine (Gluhwein), grilled sausages, vegetarian options, pretzels, German beer, and for those with a sweet tooth, gingerbread, crepes and marzipan sweets.
The Birmingham market has been officially recognised as the biggest authentic German market held outside Germany and Austria and last year attracted an estimated record 3.1 million visitors.
Since it began in 2001, the market has doubled in size and generates millions of pounds for the city’s economy.
Its bars and hot-food stalls have become a popular place for office Christmas parties and stallholders also give leftover and unsold food to a number of charities. Donations of produce such as ham, waffles, sausages, pretzels, vegetables and fruit will go to the King Lodge Children’s Home, the Salvation Army, St Basil’s and Trident Reach.
Nadine Loewenthal, spokeswoman for the traders, said: “The Frankfurt stallholders are always delighted by the support shown by customers who visit us from Birmingham and beyond.”
The Frankfurt market will also be coupled with the Christmas Craft Fair, which offers local artisan craftsmen a chance to show off their skills and there is also a selection of ethnic goods on sale from all over the world.
Traditional stalls offer the usual array of beautiful handmade toys, Christmas decorations, original jewellery and craft goods as well as a carousel to keep younger visitors entertained.
At the heart of the market in Victoria Square each year is a traditional bandstand where musicians perform every lunchtime and evening and groups of local carol singers and schoolchildren also stage special performances throughout the festive period.
Birmingham has been twinned with Frankfurt for more than 40 years and this partnership is celebrated every year by a range of economic, political and cultural events and exchanges involving schools, business, and community groups.
* The market is open every day between 10am and 9pm from next Thursday November 17 to Friday December 23.