Fifteen years and counting

Bernadette Jackson visits Birmingham’s Christmas gift to the world.

For more than fifteen years, the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market has transformed New Street and Victoria Square into a hive of festive cheer. We’ve taken a look at what’s on offer to new and returning visitors at this, the biggest outdoor Christmas Market in the UK.

Ever since Birmingham linked up with Frankfurt in 1966, the two cities have worked together. The Frankfurt Christmas Market is part of that collaboration. Open now until 23 December, the market offers a range of traditional goods and gifts.

It opens each day from 10am -9pm, covering New Street and Victoria Square.Here you’ll find visitors who have traveled here for the market, office workers having a bite to eat with colleagues before heading home, and families with rosy-cheeked children marveling at the lights and the treats on offer. This event attracts over 5.5 million visitors each year.

If you’ve come to shop you’ll find handcrafted decorations, toys, jewellery and some unexpected treats such as a group of guinea pig ornaments to make the most ardent piggie fan happy. There are ornaments for your tree, decorations for your home, and potential presents for those on your list. Plus there are traditional food gifts like stollen alongside other gastronomic treats like flavoured coffee beans.

Feeling hungry? You won’t be short of opportunities to feast here. From bratwurst to schnitzels and beyond, there is plenty to fill you up during your visit. Then there are all the sweets and treats from roasted almonds to chestnuts, and chocolates to marshmallows. The aroma is compelling. You’ve got the choice of plenty to drink too. Hot chocolate comes as is, or spiked with all kinds of alcoholic extras. Gluhwein will make you think you’ve come in from a long day on the slopes. Then there’s classic German weissbeer.

If you’re made happy just by wandering around, there’s plenty to entertain you. At the Victoria Square end of the market, there’s a new windmill this year. There’s also a Father Christmas with a knee designed for perching, pictures and selfies. Queen Victoria, snuggled up behind him, seems not to notice the celebrations unfolding around her.

As usual, the attention to detail is brilliant. The tables to stand and have your drinks are supported by festive mugs. The bins are Christmassy, too. Overhead you can spot plush reindeer, leaning over in the hope of snaffling a snack or being offered a drink. The whole place is a-whirl with sparkle and tinsel.

And laughter too. Much as we locals like to bemoan the time it takes to walk up New Street once the market arrives, you can’t help but notice the laughter in the air. People here are officially having a good time. And sometimes that’s just what you need.

Thinking of visiting? Weekends are the busiest time, followed by the after-work spot on weekdays from 5-7pm. Lunchtimes are also understandably busier. The market is a short walk from the three main Birmingham stations: New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street.

The author writes about markets and other things at