Birmingham & Black Country

In Pictures: How does Birmingham's Christmas market compare?

Birmingham's annual Frankfurt Christmas market has opened for the 14th year.

Since it started in 2001, festive markets have spread across the UK, with a number of cities hosting their own versions.

Manchester claims around 300 stalls. Birmingham only has 200 but organisers claim it is the largest authentic German market outside Germany.

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Sebastian Kisters, a journalist from Frankfurt, has visited Birmingham's equivalent and said he found "no difference" in the products on offer.

"You can even get original Frankfurter W├╝rstchen (sausages)", he said.

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Birmingham's lord mayor Shafique Shah said the Christmas market has come to be viewed as the city's "flagship" annual event. Mr Kisters said they are an important part of German culture but not just limited to large towns and cities.

"Every small village tries to have a little Christmas market," he said.

Image copyright Birmingham City Council/Getty Images

Both Birmingham's and Frankfurt's markets occupy large parts of their respective city centres. In the West Midlands the market is centred around Victoria Square and Birmingham's Council House, while in Frankfurt the R├Âmerberg square plays host to the main festivities.

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In recent years, Birmingham has added a big wheel and ice rink to its Christmas offering but the fairground carousel outside its council house remains the traditional centrepiece, as in Frankfurt.

Image copyright AFP

The quaint wooden huts that snake along city streets are a common feature for all German markets. In spite of this, Mr Kisters said the surrounding buildings "look totally different" and Frankfurt's reconstructions of its 15th Century half-timbered houses are a contrast to Birmingham's grand Victorian council buildings.

Perhaps the oddest feature - common across the Manchester, Birmingham and Frankfurt sites - is a singing moose head which serenades visitors with Christmas songs. Birmingham's version, named "Chris Moose", has even spawned his own Twitter account.

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