Once upon a time, when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter I travelled to Cologne to see the German Christmas markets. Cologne provides a stunning backdrop to the markets and it is impossible to beat Cologne Cathedral, the magnificent Gothic edifice that took more than 600 years to complete and which today is still one of the city’s significant features.
Fast forward 10 years or more and I don’t have to travel far to experience the bratwursts, tankards of German beer and the fruity flavours of hot Glühwein as Birmingham has one of the biggest markets outside of Germany!
We went into Birmingham last weekend and there were notices already up in the train station warning of delays due to the increased number of passengers going to the German Markets. It is lovely to have it on our doorstep and people clearly come from far and wide to visit.
We travelled in the early afternoon and the trains were already busy so the later it gets, the busier it gets. Weekends tend to be the busiest times - great if you enjoy a bustling atmosphere but it can get very crowded.
You can see from the pictures that there is not much breathing room so our top tips for attending the Christmas markets are:
- If you are planning on going without the children, try a week day as they are less hectic although it can get very busy in the middle of the day (from noon to 2pm when shop and office workers go in their lunch break).
- Avoid the times between 5pm up until about 7.30pm on a week day, as people stop for a drink and a bite to eat on their way home from work in the city centre.
- Some people think that it can be expensive to go to the markets but don’t get too caught up with price matching. Most vendors have equal prices, and although we love a bit of haggling, it isn’t common practice.
- If you want to venture a little further afield and go to the actual German markets in Germany, there are lots of travel operators offering coach trips, or why not book a hotel and enjoy a festive mini-break? It’s also worth checking to see if travelling by car maybe cheaper but always make sure that you have Car Insurance that covers European travel!
- And finally, don’t forget to sample the Glühwein. You may find that for a small fee, you can keep and re-use the special mugs. Not only are refills cheaper, you have a great souvenir too!
Collaboration with Aviva.