It’s notorious for its giant beer, bustling crowds and Christmas cheer; Birmingham’s German market is a no-brainer (just be sure to bring that extra layer of clothing you don’t think you need).
It may still be just a mere few weeks until Christmas itself, but have we not accepted yet that us Brits are addicting to celebrating a fortnight or two too early? If you’ve already started counting down and are coming to the end of your present shopping already (yes, those people really do exist), then the festive cheer is something you’ll be lapping up in seconds.
With the sparkly lights and glittering tinsel hanging inside the wooden stalls, you’ll struggle to know where to stop first to appreciate the atmosphere. Although pausing for a drink always seems to be the safest thing to do when the swarm of locals surround you, there’s no denying the sheer amount of people that hit the markets can be overwhelming.
Take a minute to stop and stare around you and, once you notice the sea of people moving further towards the drink stations, you’ll know that’s where you need to be for at least the first half an hour. If an enormous beer isn’t your first choice, hot chocolate is most definitely the next most-talked about beverage for the cold.
You may not be able to feel your feet, but you’ll be feeling the celebrations as soon as you’ve chosen from Baileys, brandy or amaretto as your mixer for the hot drink (and that’s if you don’t fancy a traditional mulled wine). Not to mention the fantastic food on offer, in the form of bratwurst, pretzels and so much more.
Birmingham’s German Market | © Dun.can/Flickr
Once you’ve battled the queue and exchanged an extra £3.50 for a green token that can be kept in your pocket if you want to take the novelty mug or beer glass away (or exchanged at the end if you want your money back), take a perch at one of the high tables amongst the madness.
If pushy people aren’t something you can ignore after an alcoholic drink or bag of donuts, wait until a weekday to visit the Frankfurt markets and avoid the evening time at all costs. It’s most definitely still bustling throughout the day, but with a much more peaceful vibe where you can see for further than the first three people in front of you.
Make your way right to the stalls that sit beside the glistening carousel outside the town hall for some pretty views that make the chill worth it; the Christmas markets tend to bring the second city the appreciation it deserves.
Trinkets at the German Market | © Mathew Bedworth/Flickr
Even if you’re not going for the dainty decorations and quaint ornaments themselves, the German market substitutes your local, and the slight change of scenery makes December a little more memorable than your average 31 days. And, if anything, the pubs nearby seem a whole lot more welcoming when they count as an escape from the bitter air.
The Sun on the Hill and Post Office Vaults are fantastic night-time stop offs situated a 30-second walk from the third market bar along the way, whereas Grand Central sits right at the beginning near to the bull: the perfect landmark to find your way to the likes of Snobs, Sunflower Lounge, Be At One and All Bar One. There’s no doubt that an innocent couple of hours at the Birmingham Christmas markets will lead into the early hours, so head there on a weekend if you’re impartial to some real extended festive celebrations.
However, if you’re looking for something more family-friendly that doesn’t just include the usual quirky stalls, then Eastside City Park has really changed the game this year with Ice Skate Birmingham. You can spot the big wheel from a mile away (especially if you’ve headed into Moor Street on the train), and rest assured that once it’s illuminated past 4pm, it’s impossible to miss.
With the fear that there wouldn’t be a location free to host the festivities this year, it would be rude not to attend. Take a glance over Birmingham from a ride on the big wheel or check your balance with a go on the ice skating rink that’s been added just for this season.
The city has put itself up against the likes of Leeds and Manchester for best German market this year (and the fair rides, dodgems and rollercoasters are just the icing on the Christmas pudding).
Eastside City Park is open every day until January 7th (except Christmas Day, of course) whereas the Frankfurt Christmas Markets will stay open until the 24th December – so go and make the most of your life-sized beer, cold hands and the sparkling lights while you can. There’s only one season for it.