German Christmas markets are like stepping back in time, usually set outdoors in charming town squares. Each market has dozens of wooden booths filled to the brim with crafts, food and drinks.
Nowhere is the yuletide celebration more evident than at German Christmas markets. It is, after all, the country where a lot of present day holiday traditions started.
This year, I’d hoped to return to Germany to visit more markets, but decided to save for a trip to Tromsø instead.
So, when friends invited me to visit them for an annual trip to Birmingham to peruse the largest German-style Christmas market outside Germany, I jumped at the chance. Especially when I saw the train fairs- less than £10 return from London!
Arriving in Birmingham late morning, we stopped at Faculty for coffee and then hit the market.
Bigger than any German market I’ve been to, the Birmingham one feels like endless wooden stalls.
Over 5 million visitors visit the market in Birmingham each year. Interestingly, it started in an attempt to bring a taste of traditional German markets to Britain to inspire British visitors to head to Germany for the real deal.
Bratwurst, steins of beer, gingerbread, ornaments, nutcrackers and tons of other trinkets are available to feast upon and purchase. It’s a jolly good time.
We wandered the stalls for a while, but then set our sights on the gluhwein (mulled wine) stalls. Like at any German market, you put down a deposit on a mug and then only pay for refills of hot wine. If you return the mug, you’ll get your deposit back. Otherwise, you can take it with you as a keepsake.
After a few mugs of gluhwein, we headed to The Stable for festive cider / ales (I tried a orange cinnamon cider with nutmeg), and ordered a few pizzas to share.
Before I knew it, it was time to head back to London.
Was visiting the market worth it? I had lots of fun, in part because I was with such a great group of friends.
The Birmingham market has elements of a traditional German market, but nothing compares to the real deal. If you can, book yourself a trip to Munich, Frankfurt or Cologne- you won’t regret the Christmas cheer.
Have you ever been to a Christmas market in Germany or elsewhere in Europe?