Birmingham’s German Christmas Market is gearing up for its return in 2021 on its first date.
The event, in Victoria Square and New Street, has become the centerpiece of the city’s festive calendar.
The ice rink and the Ferris wheel will also be back to add to the festive atmosphere of downtown.
Some market reviewers have asked why we have a German themed market rather than something more traditionally English or that celebrates local traders.
So when did it all start and why is there a German market in Birmingham?
READ MORE: Birmingham Christmas Markets 2021 – full list of dates and locations
Why is there a German market in Birmingham and when did it start?
The Birmingham German Market was established in 1997.
It is more officially known as the Frankfurt Christmas Market Birmingham, as most of the traders are said to be from the German twin city.
Kurt Stroscher, director of festivals and events at Frankfurt City Council, came up with the idea as a way to market his hometown abroad.
By bringing a taste of a traditional German Christmas to Britain, he hoped to lure British visitors to Frankfurt for the real deal.
Mr Stroscher said: “The idea was to bring a bit of our Christmas culture to the UK.
“Birmingham was the first city where Christmas markets came because Frankfurt has a partnership with Birmingham as twin cities. “
He added: “In Birmingham it is really an authentic Christmas market, like the one you find in Frankfurt. Christmas markets in Germany are very traditional and that’s what I like best – the wooden stalls, the German products, the culture.
Birmingham City Council leaders initially agreed on a one-off venture that merchants from Frankfurt came to host a similar event.
It was such a success that it became an annual event, returning in 2001 and returning every year since then.
Victoria Square was the site of the very first Frankfurt market in the UK. In that first year there were only 10 booths.
READ MORE: Birmingham Big Wheel and Ice Rink back for 2021 alongside German market
In 2016, Birmingham and Frankfurt celebrated their 50 years of twinning and that is why the market extended its stay in the city.
In 1998, a German market was also established in Bristol and Manchester.
Edinburgh followed in 1999, Bath in 2000, Leeds in 2002 and Liverpool in 2006.
Birmingham’s party market attracts 5.5 million visitors and generates nearly £ 400 million for the city’s economy.
It is now the largest outdoor Christmas market in the UK and the largest German market outside of Germany and Austria.
When and where did the Christmas markets start?
Christmas markets date back to the Middle Ages in German-speaking European countries, with Vienna’s December market first taking place in 1294.
Although the first known market was around this time of year, it was not a real Christmas themed market.
The Munich market started in 1310 and is considered the first real Christmas market.
The Frankfurt Christmas market is first mentioned in 1393.
READ MORE: The best Christmas markets to visit in 2021, including Birmingham’s German market
So when did these markets start in UK?
We know that Birmingham was the first city or town in the UK to have a Christmas market in Frankfurt, but there were seasonal markets in the UK long before that.
Christmas markets were popular in Britain centuries ago, until the celebration of Christmas and other holy days was banned by parliament in the 1640s.
It was not until the monarchy was restored in 1660, after the death of Oliver Cromwell two years earlier, that such traditions began to be restored.
In the 19th century, the Victorians held markets selling Christmas items.
This was revived when the city of Lincoln introduced the traditional European-style Christmas market to Britain as part of its twinning with Neustadt in Germany.
The Lincoln Christmas Market started in 1982 with just 11 stalls in Castle Square. It now occupies most of the cultural district, with more than 250 stalls.
While the Lincoln market only lasts four days, the Birmingham market lasts more than six weeks.
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