German market returns to Birmingham for Christmas

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The Christmas marketImage source, Birmingham City Council
Image caption,
The German Christmas market in Birmingham will be smaller this year due to works in Victoria Square ahead of the Commonwealth Games

Birmingham's German Christmas market has opened in the city centre after being cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Initially intended as a one-off event in 1997, the market has since become an annual feature in Birmingham.

This year's event is smaller, with 56 stalls, due to works being carried out in Victoria Square.

The city council has warned the market could still be changed or cancelled if Covid restrictions return.

It is due to run until 23 December.

Image caption,
The Cliftons, from Southampton, were among the first visitors

Kurt Stroscher, Frankfurt City Council's director of festivals and events, said it was "terrible" last year with the market closing because of the pandemic.

"Christmas without Christmas markets is not a good feeling," he added.

About 5m people have previously attended each year.

In 2021, Louise and Jeremy Clifton from Southampton were among the first visitors, with their son Sam, who is at university in Birmingham.

"I think this one is very German - it's very good. Others have been anglicised," Mrs Clifton said.

Image caption,
Jean Wise (right) and her daughter and granddaughter came from Hereford to enjoy the first day

Three generations of the same family, Victoria and Phoebe Seymour and grandmother Jean Wise, travelled from Hereford for the event's first day.

Mrs Wise said it was good to be out enjoying the market after the pandemic's restrictions.

"I think we have been locked down almost two years now and you just think 'it is nice to be out' and of course there is space and it is outdoors so you do not have to wear masks," she said.

The official opening was at 17:30 GMT on Thursday when Christmas lights were turned on by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, councillor Muhammad Afzal.

Image caption,
The Christmas tree is back in position for this year's festivities

The council said the big wheel and ice rink had also returned to Centenary Square as part of seasonal festivities and would be open until 9 January.

Brigid Jones, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said there would be Covid-19 precautions in place.

"The market is a little bit more spaced out than it usually would be, to allow people to circulate and obviously it's outside so that's a bonus," she said.

"You'll see stall holders wearing masks or serving you behind screens," she added.

Image caption,
This is the first time at the market for Silvia Bornea, who runs a sweet stall

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