I’ve been a busy old bee of late, zipping up and down the country (well it feels that way!). I had a bit of mini break at the beginning of this week, a trip to Birmingham with my mother. Ever since my uni days I have waxed lyrical about the German market Birmingham hosts and I kept telling mum she needed to see it. It’s ten times better than the one in Edinburgh (although they have upped their game this year). Birmingham at Christmas is just amazing, and so, after years of wanting to go and never actually getting around to it, this year we booked our Christmas mini break.
We stayed in the Bullring Travelodge which was a three minute walk from the Bullring. As soon as we’d checked in I dragged the mother out into the city because the market at night is when it is at its most magical. First stop was the famous bull, who has been all decorated for Christmas. Doesn’t he look adorable?
I was delighted to discover that the market is a lot bigger than in my uni days. Before it used to end at Stephenson Street, but now it stretched all the way down to the Bullring. There’s a plethora of food and drink stalls, from the beer huts to nut stalls to donuts and chocolates. This one was one of my personal favourites. How adorable are those chocolate hedgehogs off to the right?
There’s so much to see that it can be a little overwhelming. I think I wore my camera out with all the pictures! I loved the decorations on some of the huts, including these reindeer and sleigh.
This beer hut is arguably the most eye-catching. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It is so bright and wonderfully Christmas-y. It was right outside the restaurant we had our dinner in and I spent most of meal watching the massive crowd milling around it.
I was also taken with the carousel. If I wasn’t so old I would have been dragging my mother onto it, but instead we watched the kids and attempted to get some pictures of it, which is hard when people keep wandering in front of you!
The market is huge. As well as covering New Street, it also stretches down to the Symphony Hall and Central Library. This was the first time mum had seen the new library and we both agreed that by night and lit up with the wheel, it looks spectacular.
We actually went in it the next day, and it is one of the most fascinating buildings I’ve ever been in. The layout is great – it’s in a circle and as you walk round you can look down at all the other tires. There’s lots of groovy comfy seats to sit and read in or just relax, and even an outside balcony with amazing views over the city. I look so far away because my mum was scared to go near the edge!
After so many years I was worried the market wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but it did. It’s bigger, brighter and just as wonderful to look around as ever. Admittedly, the stalls are quite pricey. Don’t take any drinks! We went to get hot chocolate and were charged £12 for it – £6 for the drinks and £6 deposit for the mugs. You do get your deposit back, but the next day we found a stall that charged just £3 for two hot chocolates – much more reasonable!
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip, however, I think we bought more food than actual Christmas presents. I sampled one of the After Eight donuts and let me tell you, it was divine. To make up for not buying anything at the market, we went on a shopping spree at the Bullring instead. I bought a new jumper and pjyamas for myself and mum got a new jumper and some Christmas decorations. And after all of that, we treated ourselves to a night at the ballet, catching The Nutcracker at the Hippodrome. It was a fab mini break and we’re determined to do it all again next year. Until then, we’ll just have to have a wander around Edinburgh’s German market instead.