Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham

A Birmingham Christmas Weekend

The Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham, 2017.

Birmingham Christmas Weekend

Our Birmingham Christmas weekend trip, actually a couple of weeks before Christmas, for the Christmas market seems to have become an annual event. This year we headed to Birmingham by train on the Saturday morning to visit the market and see a show in the evening, staying over, to,take a leisurely trip home on the Sunday. Of course, just our luck, we picked the coldest weekend of the year!

Frankfurt German Market

The Frankfurt Christmas Market has been visiting Birmingham for 51 years. Have a look at our post from last year’s 50th anniversary market.

Offering a range of different products, the market is always interesting to walk around and enjoy the “buzz”. It’s always busy. We don’t buy a lot but the German foods, Bratwurst, gluhwein and the like are always sampled. And, perhaps, a beer or two.

This year was no exception – we ate well.

Noticeable this year was the amount of development going on in Birmingham. The whole area normally occupied by the English market and ice rink is a massive construction site.

Also very evident was the discreet level of high security, after events elsewhere this has, sadly become necessary.

Finding Whisky

Taking a detour, with the thought of some special Christmas presents, we discovered The Whisky Shop in the Great Western Arcade. Now, if you enjoy a drop of Scotch, this is a place you would enjoy. Happily the Whisky Shop is a chin with a number of outlets in the UK.

Focussing mainly on good single malts, there were labels there I had never heard of. Some really interesting stories behind them as well. This one is definitely marked for a future visit.

Cocktails – The Lost and Found

Cocktails at the Lost and Found

Colourful cocktails at the Lost and Found.

The Lost and Found Cocktail Bar and Restaurant in Birmingham

The Lost and Found Cocktail Bar and Restaurant in Birmingham

It was cold, very cold. With an early dinner booked, and time to spare, a pub was a good place to be. Based on a recommendation we found the Lost and Found cocktail bar and restaurant just after lunch.

I can certainly recommend hot chips and cocktails as a good way to spend a cold afternoon. All of the pubs were crowded, but we were fortunate to find a table after the kitchen closed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Dinner – Chung Ying

We had pre-booked an early dinner at Chung Ying Central in Colmore Row, after a great dinner there in 2016.

Normally we’d try and go somewhere new, with the idea that you can’t always repeat a one-off good experience. That would have been a good idea. The meal was not as good as before, and any complaint fell on deaf ears.

Overtones

The Overtones at the Birmingham Symphony HallHaving booked the show some months before, we headed to the Birmingham Symphony Hall to see The Overtones. They are a five piece vocal harmony group with roots in the UK and Australia.

The show was great. The focus is on the singers and not fancy props or aids, and the lighting was very well done. The range of their song selection is surprisingly wide. If you get the chance, this is a show worth going to. Something I haven’t encountered before – they invited the audience to use their phones and take photos and video.

The Overtones on Wikipedia.

 

Trying to Go Home

We awoke to thick snow and an evil, cold wind. TV news told us that the airport and main railway station (New Street) in Birmingham had both been closed.

After a leisurely breakfast, we wrapped up and headed out. Birmingham is known for the Bullring shopping mall. We found that we could get out of the snow into the John Lewis mall, and walk all the way through the Bullring, to simply cross the road to Moor Street station.

Bearing in mind that this was Sunday, two weeks before Christmas, the shops were pretty much deserted. A bit of snow had kept people away.

Once we reached Moor Street station it was evident why people stayed away. we settled into the cramped cafe, which looks like it is still in the days of 1960s British rail. Over a cup of coffee we figure out that most of the trains for the day had been cancelled, particularly those travelling towards London. But, they said, the 1:15 MIGHT run.

We were fortunate. It did, seeing us home in a couple of hours, in a white snow covered countryside. As we passed through various stations along the way it was very clear why trains had been cancelled.

A Good Weekend Break

Despite snow and an iffy dinner we had a great weekend. A visit to the Christmas market, particularly if you haven’t been before, is a good day out. Stay over, go to a show, and make it a weekend break.

For that matter, plan ahead and just take a weekend break in Birmingham and you will enjoy it.

 

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Prosperous New Year

Street Decoration

Birmingham German Market – Christmas Time!

2016 is the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham German market, so it is staying open until the 29th of December, giving Christmas shoppers plenty of opportunity to visit. We have enjoyed the market occasionally in previous years. This time we decided to make a party of it, spending a Friday there. That meant we could miss the big crowds and spend the day enjoying simply walking around and sampling the goods. Can’t say that we bought much, though we did enjoy some good food and sweets, and a good day out.

Off to Birmingham

A train trip after work on Thursday put us at the new New Street station in time to catch a cab and check in to the Novotel hotel on Broad Street with time for a leisurely dinner. Broad street is an ideal place to be visiting the German Market as it is a short walk away, and a central spot for the local pubs and restaurants.

Coast to Coast, an American restaurant on Broad Street gave us a great meal of burgers and ribs with all the trimmings, including two for one “happy hour” cocktails. A couple of drinks back at the hotel ended the evening nicely.

Friday: Market Day at the Birmingham German Market

There is no point being first at the market, while the stall holders are still preparing for the day, so on the Friday morning we enjoyed the hotel’s excellent breakfast spread, before taking a stroll down Broad Street to the English market. This is a small market featuring a good range of clothing, soaps, candle and the like. We did sample some great toffee liqueur.

German GluhweinThere is a lot of construction in Birmingham at present, which meant a long, somewhat circuitous walk to the main German market in Victoria Square, right in front of the Birmingham Town Hall. The market extends down the length of New Street, almost to the Bullring shopping mall.

Novelty glassware, decorations, leather wear, Christmas decorations, fancy lights, and more. We walked the length of the market stalls and saw all of it. And then we walked back on the other side of the road and saw the rest. This did take a few hours, not only spent browsing the goods on sale, but often sampling the gluhwein along the way. After all, it was cold and we did need warming up.

Back in Victoria Square, lunch was tasty Bratwurst & mustard roll washed down with some German beer, and, of course, followed by a gluhwein! But we won’t count the various tasty sweet things and marshmallow chocolates, some of which actually made it home.

Birmingham German Market CarouselAnd then we found the carousel. The ladies decided to have a go, while the guys took photos!

Mid-afternoon saw us all ready for a break. We wandered back to the hotel via Brindley Place, a nice little collection of bars and restaurants. A pit stop at the, by then very busy, Pitcher and Piano proved very welcome.

The Big Wheel

Heights. I am not a fan of heights! The challenge from our friends was to do the big wheel! It was a challenge that could not be ignored, so all four of us went on the wheel. To be fair, we did get a couple of good photos. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

Chinese Dinner

We ended the day with an excellent Chinese meal at the Chung Ying Central Dim Summ Restaurant in Colmore Row. We were struck by the whole approach and decor as we walked in. The establishment appears as a more western style restaurant, but delivered a most enjoyable Chinese meal.

Heading Home on Saturday

With no reason to be anywhere in a hurry on the Saturday morning we took our time over another Novotel breakfast, then made away via a taxi to New Street station, or as close as the taxi driver could get in the Saturday market crowds. Then the fun started.

New Station is BIG, so it took a while to get our bearings and find the right platform. When the train arrived we stood back and just let the mobs fight over it. There was no way we were going to get into that fight. A change of platform and thirty minute wait for the next train! With an announcement that “a crew member had not turned up for work”, the wait quickly turned into well over an hour. That was followed by another scrum for a seat. Let’s just say that elbows and big feet helped, and leave it at that. An hour’s travel put us back in Banbury, for a short drive home. We had locked ourselves in to the Cross Country service. For future reference, Chiltern Rail, out of Moor St., seems to offer a better local service.

Final Thoughts

My normal idea of a getaway is in the countryside or at the beach. Clearly that is not an option in England at Christmas. A visit to the Birmingham German Market, as we did this trip, trip falls into the category of a “City Break”, not something I have seriously considered before. From the market point of view there was nothing that I was really excited to buy. The different food was really great. The real enjoyment of the German Market visit was to be out with friends, doing something different. From that point of view it was a great trip.

A key part of our enjoyment was going to the market on a Friday, with smaller crowds!

No I wouldn’t rush back to see the German market, but with the right group having a couple of days out I would go back any time.

Photos

Here are some of the photos. Enjoy.

 

 

The Golden Boys Statue in Birmingham

The Golden Boys and Steam

The Golden Boys, Matthew Bolton, James Watt and William Murdoch. This gilded statue commemorates these 3 who were most famous for developing the steam engine.

Photo Notes

Main photo taken at night on Samsung Note 4. The other shot on the Canon 60D, Sigma 17-50 at 17mm f/2.8 1/16th ISO 1600
#birmingham #thegoldenboys #goldenboys #steam #sea engine #h1t #nightphotography via Instagram http://ift.tt/2h52Xk2

Night Arrival Birmingham for a City Break

After a quick 1 hour train ride from Banbury after work, we arrived in Birmingham for a city break. Actually we had decided to go to the German Market, on Friday to avoid the Saturday crowds. This was the first time I had seen the new New Street station in Birmingham. Very impressive after its rebuild!

Big Wheel in Birmingham

The Big Wheel in the English Market area in Birmingham.

Here are a couple of night shots of the big wheel in Birmingham and a shot of the lights from the big wheel. 

Watch this space. More German market photos to come. As soon as I have done a bit of editing!

Photo Note

All of the pictures in this post were shot with a Samsung Note 4, edited in Snapseed and resized in Photo Editor.

 #newstreet #station in #birmingham #railway #crosscountry #railroad #h1t via Instagram http://ift.tt/2gsKQkG

Birmingham at Night

A quickly grabbed shot from the Big Wheel in the English Market area of the Frankfurt German Market.