When people think of Birmingham at Christmas, they tend to think of the Frankfurt Christmas Market and Christmas Craft Market which fill up New Street, Victoria Square and Centenary Square every year and are accompanied by the ice rink and the big wheel. For those who live in the city centre though, it is the time of year when eye-rolling, crowd-hating, and needing additional time to get anywhere becomes the norm.
Don’t get me wrong the markets are lovely to look at but year after year they’re set out exactly the same, selling the exact same products and charging the earth for food and drink, and yet people come in their thousands.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham so I thought there’d be something different going on….so far, all I can tell is that the market is running longer than usual (until 29th December).
For those like me who love Christmas but want to give the overwhelmingly-popular markets a miss, then Birmingham has loads more to offer throughout December – and in particular, there is LOADS happening this weekend.
Magical Lantern Festival @ Birmingham Botanical Gardens
I was so excited to see that this festival was coming to Birmingham for Christmas 2016. Family members visited similar displays at Kew Gardens and Longleat last year and raved about how wonderful it was. I tried to book tickets to go this weekend but the only available time-slots were later in the evening whereas we need an early evening ticket as my 4-year old nephew will be with us.
I had a few friends who went last weekend as I’ve seen pics on Facebook and it really does look amazing. I’m definitely still planning on going but just need to find a day when the timings fit!
Let me know if you’ve been and what you thought of it.
One of my favourite things about Birmingham is the incredible support for independent retailers and businesses. As a refreshing change from the traditional market, Winter Social is being billed as an excellent alternative. This showcase of local talent is the brainchild of successful, Birmingham-based events man Dean Brennan who wanted to bring a Christmas market to the city which supports local bars, restaurants, and music.
Opening this weekend and sticking around until 24th December, Winter Social will be making use of The Balcony outside Selfridges and the Bullring. I’ll be popping over this weekend for some food and drinks so will let you all know what I thought.
Etsy Made Local
I love buying hand-crafted gifts from Etsy so I’m really excited that this weekend, there will be not one but TWO Etsy Made Local events in Birmingham.
The members of IDEAS Birmingham are bringing you a Christmas Market in the Market Hall at the Custard Factory (2-3 December) and Birmingham Originals are hosting the Winter Makers Market at the awesome Municipal Bank building on Broad Street (2-4 December).
With local artisans and craft-makers displaying their beautiful creations, both of these events will be well-worth a visit.
Christmas Floating Market
From 10th to 18th December, on the canals by the Barclaycard Arena, a number of trading narrowboats will be selling crafts and food gifts, many made by the traders themselves. Throughout the year the Roving Canal Traders Association hosts a number of events like these but I find they aren’t publicised very well so I often only catch them if I happen to be walking past. They usually tend to be pretty good though.
With Cadbury announcing that they wouldn’t be bringing their Christmas truck to their home city this year, the Cadbury Angels will instead be on hand to give out free chocolate today from 11am to 3pm on the High Street . This giveaway will be accompanied by the Cadbury Choir.
Also, after missing us out last year, the Coca-Cola truck will be visiting Birmingham again in 2016. On 17th December from 1pm til 9pm, the truck will be spreading Christmas cheer (and copious amounts of sugar) from St Martin’s Square at the Bullring.
Please share your experiences if you go to any of these events and let me know if there are other cool things happening in the city which I’ve missed off my list.