The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market, the biggest German market outside of Germany, takes over the city center for more than a month every winter.
For at least 16 years, Birmingham has joined it's twinned city, Frankfurt, Germany, to fill the city center with a huge Frankfurt Christmas Market.The magical transformation puts this English city among the top 10 European destinations for Christmas, year after year.
In 2016, the two cities celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of their twinning partnership in 1966, so the festival is likely to be particularly spectacular. And it will be longer than ever, lasting from mid November until nearly New Year's. Beside it, an enormous Christmas Craft Market adds to the fun with plenty of gifts produced by local artists and artisans as well as artisanal food and drink from the region. More than five million visitors are expected to visit the combined Christmas markets during the holiday season.
Traditional German Goodies at the Frankfurt Christmas Market
The market, stretching from Victoria Square to the Rotunda has at least 190 stalls serving up tasty treats and selling traditional gifts.The organizers promise pretzels, schnitzels, bratwursts, and knoblauchbrot, roasted almonds and Christmas Stollen to eat plus gluhwein, weissbeer and hot chocolate.
Colorful stalls offer traditional handmade toys, Christmas decorations, jewellery, and crafts, bottled German wines not usually available in the UK, crystal lamps, tooled leather work and textiles. And a giant bandstand in Victoria Square will keep the entertainment non-stop.
Christmas Market Essentials
Where: Markets spread across Victoria Square and New Street with other activities around the city.
When: Mid November to several days after Christmas. 10a.m. to 9p.m. daily (November 17 to December 29 in 2016)
The Christmas Craft Market
A few days after the German Christmas Market opens, Birmingham's Christmas Craft Fair gets underway in Centenary Square. The goods it offers are completely different and emphasise local artisans from Birmingham and the West Midlands as well as international craftwork from Africa, India and South America.
Expect to find decorative ironwork, wood carvings, handbags, toys, musical instruments and organic soaps, textiles and cosmetics. The food on offer is pure local grub - artisan cheeses, organic sausages, fine ales from local microbreweries and handmade chutneys, pickles and jams.
Christmas Craft Market Essentials
- Where: Centenary Square
- When: November 19 to December 20 in 2016, 10a.m. to 9p.m. daily
What's The Best Time to Visit
That depends upon what you enjoy. If you want to peruse the merchandise in relative tranquility, avoid weekends and mid-day. But, if, like me, you enjoy the buzz and bustle of a busy holiday market, Saturdays and Sundays as well as noon to 2pm on weekdays are the most popular times to mingle with the crowds. And, of course, the market glitters and twinkles best after dark
And More Holiday Fun in Birmingham
The market is the centerpiece of a whole festival of seasonal events in Birmingham.
Here's what else you'll find:
- The biggest ever Santa Run Hundred of runners suit up as the big guy to race around Cannon Hill Park for the children's hospice charity Acorns (Dec. 3 in 2016). There will be a 5k race, a 5k stroll and a 2k wheelchair and pushchair friendly route.
- Open air Ice Skating and the Big Wheel in Centenary Square from November 19 to January 8 in 2016. The Ice Lounge, beside the skating rink will offer food and drink.
- Christmas Lights Switch On in Birmingham's famous Jewellery Quarter, November 18 from 5 to 7p.m., with fireworks, at The Golden Square on Vyse Street.
Where to Stay
To make the most of all the great shopping in Birmingham during the day and see the festive markets at their night time best, why not plan a short break - or at least a sleepover.
We've sampled two hotels near the city center and can recommend them both -
- The Malmaison, in The Mailbox has lots of style and its close to even more exclusive shopping.
- The Hotel Indigo, minimalist style with a luxury feel and a budget price in one of Birmingham's most surprising new landmark buildings.