The latter part of the year can mean only one thing in Birmingham, and that’s market time! Since it began more than 15 years ago, it’s become as much a part of Christmas for Brummies as carol singers, presents and decorations. Seeming to get bigger by the year, it is a fantastic way to get into the festive spirit, although you need to pick your time to go if you don’t like crowds and noise.
Centred on Victoria Square, and extending down New Street in one direction and to Chamberlain Square and Centenary Square in the other, the market includes plenty of stalls, and also plenty of places to get food and drink. The kind of things you can buy don’t tend to vary much in the main market, essentially what you would find in any German Christmas market – candles, wooden decorations, hats and gloves, ornaments and the like – but the craft market in Chamberlain and Centenary Squares features much more variety and also a number of local craftspeople getting a chance to sell their products.
To be honest, most people go to the market for the atmosphere and to eat and drink rather than on a shopping spree. Mulled wine is abundant, as are German beers and typical delicacies such as sausages and pretzels. As with the stalls, there is more variety in Chamberlain and Centenary Squares, with lots of international cuisine and local suppliers too. Prices are on the high side, especially drinks, but comparable to places like concert venues and sports stadiums so affordable for a special pre-Christmas celebration.
While I enjoy the markets, I am aware that not all Brummies share my enthusiasm. Certainly it is not to everybody’s taste. But whether you want to mooch around the stalls for a present, spend an evening getting festive over drinks with friends, or just soak up the Christmas atmosphere, it’s something you should do at least once.