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'Wilkommen' to German market.

Byline: Jane Tyler

WUNDERBAR! It's back and it's bigger than ever!

Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market rolled into town today with more stalls than ever before.

Now in its ninth year and setting up in Victoria Square, it has 94 stalls and extends all the way down New Street to its junction with Corporation Street.

Stalls will be selling toys, Christmas decorations, jewellery, clothing and craft goods. There is also a carousel and helter-skelter. But the biggest draw is the food and drink.

Visitors can sample German mulled wine - gluhwein - grilled sausages, pretzels, German beer, gingerbread, stollen, crepes and marzipan sweets.

Market manager, Kurt Stroscher, who has travelled from Germany every year for all nine fairs, said the stall-holders looked forward to their annual trip to Birmingham.

"We love coming to Birmingham as everyone makes us feel welcome," he said.

"We left Germany on Saturday and spent the week setting up for today's big opening."

He said the majority of the stall-holders were German, but some were English students on vacation jobs or Polish people living in the city.

Cabinet member for leisure, culture and sport, Coun Martin Mullaney, said the market was a vital part of the calendar.

"Last year it attracted a record 2.8 million visitors and boosted the city's economy by pounds 67 million," he said.

Last year it was the fifth largest German market in the world but this year Birmingham is set to leapfrog into third spot.

Jennifer Crisp, international officer for Birmingham City Council, said planning began in January.

"We've had this market for nine years and the stall-holders now regard Birmingham as a second home," she said.

Opening for the first time this year is an indoor cafe at the bottom of New Street.

Lord Mayor Michael Wilkes, the German Ambassador to the UK, Georg Boomgaarden and German pop sensation Patrick Lindner were due to officially the market at 5.30pm today.

It runs until December 23 *from 10am to 9pm.

CAPTION(S):

Busy: Kat Lamonby at her stall in Birmingham's German market. Prepared: Victoria Square, as the annual German market prepares to open today for another run-up towards Christmas.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 12, 2009
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