This article is part of a series which researches the top cities for Christmas Markets in Europe. In this series, Birmingham was recognised as the 20th most coveted Christmas Market from a list of over 500 European cities.
About Birmingham Christmas Markets
Blazing the trail for cities all over the UK, the first Frankfurt Christmas market arrived in Birmingham in 1997. A collaboration between the partner cities of Birmingham and Frankfurt, the market had a humble beginning with just 10 stalls. It was 2001 before the market returned to Birmingham, this time bringing 24 stalls and becoming an annual event.
Since then, the Frankfurt Christmas market has continued to grow in both size and popularity. City professionals pop out on their lunch break to sample unusual German delicacies such as the traditional and highly popular bratwurst. Local sellers provide mulled cider and hot chocolate, alongside Frankfurt traders offering gluhwein and weissbier.
In 2017, the ice rink and the Craft Market had to move out of the city centre for the first time. The Frankfurt market still took place, but on a smaller scale than previous years without its crafty neighbour. There is a new smaller craft market for 2018 in the grounds of St Philips Cathedral. The Ice Ring can be found Eastside near to Millennium Point.
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Frankfurt Christmas Market and Christmas Craft Market
Strolling through a vibrant city centre, the first thing that hits you is the scent. A combination of roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate, mulled wine and festive food. Weave between excited customers and pretty, wooden shacks to your favourite stall. Purchase Christmas gifts or just enjoy a beer at the pop-up bar. Live music adds to the atmosphere and even Scrooge himself would struggle not to succumb to the holiday cheer.
Boasting more than 80 stalls, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market signals the beginning of the festive season within the city. The largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria, its traders consist predominantly of business owners from Germany. Weekends and evenings get increasingly busy in December so try to visit earlier in the day if you prefer to avoid the crowds.
Near the Frankfurt Christmas Market lies the Cathedral Craft Market. Its small, well-stocked huts allow local traders to make the most of the crowds of shoppers to sell their own gifts and wares. The market will include an outdoor market and grotto in Cathedral Square.
Back by popular demand, Ice Skate Birmingham returns to the city centre this year with a temporary ice rink. The rink is undercover with the Ice Lounge café serving hot beverages, mulled wine and cider along with snacks and winter food favourites. There’s a viewing lounge for anyone who wants to watch the action. The location for 2018 is situated in the heart of Birmingham City Centre with a new temporary location close to Grand Central, New Street Station, Birmingham Bullring , Symphony Hall and Hippodrome.
When: From November 15th to December 23rd
Where: city centre
What time: 10am-9pm daily
Also known as: German Christmas Market
Official Website: www.germanchristmasmarketbirmingham.com
The Festive Gift Fair
Not to be outdone by the city centre, NEC Birmingham hosts the Festive Gift Fair. In its 23rd year, the fair has a dedicated following. With its indoor venue, this is the ideal place to start shopping whilst staying out of the unpredictable November weather. There’s even a present crèche where exhausted shoppers can leave their gifts and free up their hands for more purchases.
While gifts may be the focus, there’s plenty of other activities going on. Christmas characters and live music entertain visitors every day, whilst their food and drink zone has 40 stalls of artisan goodies. Most of them let you try before you buy, but save room for refreshments from the food court.
Check the website for regular updates and offers from some of the 325 stallholders in attendance. Many offer discounts to gift fair visitors that won’t be available elsewhere. Parking can be paid for in advance and the NEC can also be reached by public transport.
When: November 15th to 18th
Where: NEC Birmingham
What time: 9.30am to 5pm daily
Official website: www.festivegiftfair.co.uk
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