Lisa's week

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Lisa's week: Where’s the largest Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Weihnachtsmarkt Birmingham

Well, that would be Birmingham, my very own hometown – at least according to the city council website.

At this time of year, many students ask me about the culture of Christmas Markets and I always tell them that we don’t have this tradition specifically and then go on to tell them about the success of the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham.

It’s true.

When I lived in the UK, we didn’t have any sort of Christmas Market at all, and my first Christmas in Germany in 2001 was a time of discovery as I explored the local markets and marvelled at all the wonderfully festive food, drink and product stands. Glühwein and Bratwurst as well as the infamous Peruvian potato stand here in the Essen Market, not to mention the exquisitely beautiful Christmas decorations and other present items. It was all so new and exciting.

Little did I know that right at the very same time, Frankfurt had exported about 24 of its own market stalls to Birmingham to test if the concept would work. It did!

15 years later that market continues to grow and grow, attracting almost 5.5 million visitors in the Christmas 2014 period, while most large cities in the UK have also jumped on the wagon of having their own markets in the centre of town. It’s an export success!

However, there is a downside to this unprecedented success. The Birmingham market is SO popular and crowded that when I went to have a look a few years ago, I could hardly fight my way through. I decided to just stick with my local markets in the future, right here on my doorstop.

The stands are mostly owned by Germans but might be served by people of other origin and I read in an article that there’s not much German to be heard on the market. Nearly all of the products are the same as you’d get in any local market here, the only difference I found was that there was a little more beer being consumed. But you can get everything to eat, drink and buy on the market that you would expect to find right on your own doorstep.

The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is a great success and Birmingham looks forward to it every year. Perhaps, in years to come, people will travel to the markets over in the UK rather than here in Germany! It’s a strange world.


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?