Pull a festive Birmingham cracker
It's another bumper Christmas in Birmingham again this year with the Frankfurt German Market making it's 13th visit to Birmingham while the newly reopened REP plays host to the festive A Christmas Carol. Alongside this, Brindleyplace played host to a world record breaking Christmas cracker chain and St Philips Cathedral hosted the traditional Swedish Santa Lucia service with candlelight procession, http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/business-news/birmingham-cathedral-hosted-santa-lucia-6393704
Pictures of St Philips Cathedral prior to the start of the Santa Lucia service.
A record 749 people formed a chain in Brindleyplace to beat the previous record of 603 set in November to add festive cheer to the city, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10511302/Birmingham-office-workers-claim-Guinness-World-Record-for-longest-ever-Christmas-cracker-chain.html
With these few amongst tens of festive activities, including the Hippodrome's annual fantastic pantomime, taking place city wide, it is easy to understand why Birmingham made headlines for attracting seasonal visitors. Expedia noted that Birmingham had become the fastest growing destination for Christmas and New Year bookings, http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/birmingham-worlds-fastest-growing-christmas-6367036. Amongst reviews of the city's festive offerings, The Bristol Post reviewed a visit to the German Market, http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/authentic-German-Christmas-Birmingham/story-20270382-detail/story.html
Some pictures I've taken of the market are shown below:
The German market's popularity seems to have reached crowd crushing levels with one-way systems introduced during busy periods to direct people round the market in a flow, http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/one-way-systems-introduced-birminghams-crowded-6396826. The market, in it's 13th year, has also added pressure to the concourse at New Street Station with an extra 75,000 extra people using the half rebuilt station and requiring security staff there to stagger the flow of station users at peak times.
The German market runs until Sunday 22nd December.
Some pictures I've taken of the market are shown below:
The reopened REP which opened in September alongside the new Library of Birmingham hosted it's fifth own retelling of A Christmas Carol but one that added delights in a creative set and faithful but clever adaptation of Dicken's famous tale, http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/arts-culture-news/review-christmas-carol-birmingham-rep-6368294; http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/stage/theatre/article3940044.ece; http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/whats-on/theatre/birmingham-reps-christmas-carol-given-6356412. It was a fitting Christmas show for the new REP celebrating it's 50th anniversary with the story celebrating it's 160th anniversary of Dickens' first public reading at Birmingham Town Hall before a crowd of 2,000 people in 1853, http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/night-dickens-read-christmas-carol-6403622; http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2004/jan/31/theatre.classics
“The good people of Birmingham”, reported Dickens to a friend, “seemed to understand everything, respond to everything, and misinterpreted nothing. I felt as if we were all bodily going up into the clouds together”.http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/night-dickens-read-christmas-carol-6403622
The story amid the current climate of austerity, through fuel bills and heating and food banks, was a timely reminder on the story's aim to highlight and promote the generosity of spirit particularly in the festive season. Contemporary but rooted in the Victorian tale it was a thrill to enjoy and with it running until 4 January 2014 well worth seeing if you get chance.
Outside the REP there's a chance to Ice Skate, http://birminghamcentral.blogspot.com/2013/11/get-your-movember-skates-on.html, or enjoy the start of the Christmas Market by enjoying the ferris wheel adjacent to the REP and Library of Birmingham.
And for those hoping to bag last minute Christmas presents it might be best to plan ahead with over 300,000 people expected to flock to the Bullring this weekend, http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/lifestyle/more-330000-shoppers-expected-bullring-6407260. Celebrating it's tenth anniversary this year it is a real draw for visitors and with Selfridges attracted 40 million people in 2012.
While it can be said Birmingham has never seemed more alive and certainly the Bullring, New Street Station and the German Market's crowds speak for themselves it's also important Birmingham continues to develop it's Christmas opportunities for residents and visitors. A recent trip to Nottingham showed a lovely festive market and city that has many ideas for Birmingham to emulate and use as a springboard for it's own success.
A picture of Nottingham's Christmas market in front of the Town Hall.
A recent Birmingham Mail article critiqued the market for looking like a collection of sheds and for crowding the valuable open squares and spaces that punctuate throughout the city centre, http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-opinion/graham-young-birminghams-german-christmas-6333762. Joe Holyoak responded in the Birmingham Post by arguing there is an opportunity to deal with the front and back issue with stalls, http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/news/news-opinion/joe-holyoak-city-should-set-6399436, offering the idea of pavillions as an exciting opportunity to also create a distinctive Birmingham solution to the ad hoc nature of the collection of stalls. I think there is an exciting opportunity to develop the market and stalls not just for the Christmas market but for the visiting Moseley Art's Market that 'popped up' by St Philips Cathedral and celebrate the diverse markets, both farmers, craft and Christmas that enliven the city's streets and squares year round. Amongst many titles we can use in the stead of a City of 1001 trades could be a city of 1001 markets.