You don't need to travel to Germany to get a taste of authentic German Christmas traditions: our own city of Birmingham has been a partner city to Frankfurt for nearly half a century, and in the run up to Christmas each year since 2001, the UK's second biggest city has hosted a traditional German Advent market right in the centre.
The event has come a long way since the 24 stalls of that first year. In this, the eleventh edition of the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market, a record number of 193 stalls – including a number of original two-storey units – from the Frankfurt Fair and the adjoining Christmas Craft Fair are lining the street for over a kilometre all the way from the Bullring to the ICC in Centenary Square.
Last year over three million visitors came from across the UK and Europe to visit the fair – the largest German market in the world outside Germany and Austria, and the UK's largest outdoor Christmas market. The Frankfurt Christmas Market features stalls selling a wide range of authentic craft goods, toys, decorations, and clothing. There are delicate angel chimes, hand-crafted Christmas tree baubles, crystal figures and snow globes, toys made of tin and wood, hand knitted hats, gloves and other accessories, and, all around, the warm flicker of candles.
If you get peckish while you're browsing the stalls, there's also a host of traditional German food, drinks and sweets on sale: grab yourself a frankfurter, a giant twisted pretzel, a gingerbread house or some sweetly delicious stollen – and don't forget a glass of spicy gluhwein to warm your fingers – and the rest of you! If German delicacies aren't your thing, adjoining the Frankfurt Market, in Chamberlain and Centenary Squares, there's a special Christmas Craft Fair where you'll also find food stalls run by local businesses, providing culinary treats as diverse as curry, paella, sushi, cider, and pie and mash.
Live music, singing and entertainment are also part of the proceedings and there's a special bandstand in Victoria Square for the performances on Thursdays, Fridays and weekends.
For younger visitors there's a stunning traditional carousel in Victoria Square as well as other children’s rides. The city's Museum and Art Gallery is also getting into the Christmas spirit and Santa will be in attendance in his Grotto in the Museum's Edwardian Tea Room. There is also a Nativity Trail which focuses on the Christmas Story elements of some of the Gallery's great paintings.
The Birmingham Frankfurt Market and Christmas Craft Fair are open daily from 10am – 9pm until 23rd December