The Frankfurt Christmas Market has achieved another record-breaking turnout this year with visitor numbers falling just short of the three million mark.
As the German traders open up their stalls for the final time today (Wednesday), early estimates show that more people than ever have come to sample bratwurst, gluhwein, stollen cake and pick up some traditional hand crafted gifts.
Figures will be confirmed next month, but show the market is on course to top last year’s 2.8 million, making it the most popular German market outside Germany and Austria.
But hopes that this would exceed the three million mark were dashed by some damp, rainy weather giving the market a slow start.
The ninth annual market closes with a traditional handover of unsold food, sweet and loose change by stallholders to Birmingham Children’s Homes and the Salvation Army hostel for the homeless.
City council leader Mike Whitby said that while other cities have tried to emulate Birmingham’s success, none had been able to reproduce the size, scale, diversity and quality of the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market.
He said: “The Frankfurt Christmas Market is now firmly established in the city’s calendar and attracts visitors from far and wide.
“I am delighted that we have had another record year, in spite of the troubled economic climate. “Early figures show we’ve surpassed last year’s visitor figures of 2.8 million, which is a remarkable achievement.
“Many visitors come from outside of the city and the market provides an excellent opportunity for Birmingham to showcase its wider retail offering.
Last year the market was credited with contributing £67 million to the local retail economy and its success prompted the establishment of a summer continental food market in Victoria Square.
It got off to a rocky start when a consignment of beer and wine was held up at Dover by customs officials and the Wellington pub, on Bennetts Hill, came to the market’s rescue with a few barrels of German lager to tide them over.