Visit the UK's biggest Christmas market, take a ride on the Polar Express and stock up on choccies at Cadbury World. Birmingham knows how to do Christmas.
Frankfurt Christmas Market
The Frankfurt Christmas Market
is the centrepiece of Birmingham's Yuletide calendar from November 15. The largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria is a short walk from Birmingham New Street train station and promises over 100 stalls heaving with bratwurst, schnitzels, pretzels, gingerbread and roasted almonds. A Christmas Craft Market in adjacent Centenary Square is equally tempting with a vast array of toys, wood carvings and locally sourced food and drink to stave off the winter chill.
Ice Skate Birmingham
Open from November 17, Ice Skate Birmingham will be adding a roof this year to ensure the unpredictable British weather can’t spoil your time on the largest rink in the West Midlands on New Canal Street. The Big Wheel also returns nearby, offering stunning views of the city.
Santa’s Grotto is open every weekend from December 1 in the beating heart of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
. Pre-booking is strongly advised to guarantee your child’s one-on-one meeting with the man in red, which includes a gift and a special printed photograph of the visit - presuming they have been good and aren’t on his naughty list!
Christmas At Cadbury World
Take a train south just four stops from Birmingham New Street to Bournville from November 17 to savour the intoxicating sights and smells of Christmas At Cadbury World. Britain's very own version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory welcomes Father Christmas in a fun-filled stage show accompanied by exceedingly friendly elves. Visitors can enjoy handmade chocolate novelties as they tour the walk-around attraction.
The Polar Express Train Ride
Enjoy a very different train journey from November 29 when The Polar Express Train Ride begins departures from a beautifully decorated platform 4 of Birmingham Moor Street train station. All aboard as a cast of professional dancers and actors recreate the classic children’s tale as you chug towards the North Pole where Santa awaits to present each child with a silver bell from his sleigh.
Magical Lantern Festival
The Magical Lantern Festival returns for a breath-taking third year from November 23 at Birmingham Botanical Gardens
. Some of the most beautifully constructed and imaginative lantern installations outside of China are dotted around the site, set against the picturesque backdrop of woodland, gardens and ponds, which take on new life after dark. Timed entry is confirmed when you book in advance and remember to wrap up toasty warm because you are at the mercy of the winter elements once you have left the comfort of our trains.
The city’s theatres heave with festive cheer. Birmingham Royal Ballet’s
staging of The Nutcracker dances into the Hippodrome from November 23. Sir Peter Wright’s ravishing production has been a tradition in the city for over 25 years and has lost none of its power to enchant. From November 24, Dorothy Gale strolls down the Yellow Brick Road with Toto at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in The Wizard Of Oz (www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/the-wizard-of-oz.html
). Audiences can travel somewhere over the rainbow with Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion in director Liam Steel’s magical staging.
Benidorm On Stage
From December 3, New Alexandra Theatre welcomes some winter sunshine with the world premiere stage production of the hit ITV sitcom Benidorm
The live show written by Derren Litten features all your favourite staff and guests of the Solana resort including Sherrie Hewson as bossy hotel manager Joyce Temple-Savage, Jake Canuso as hunky barman Matteo and Tony Maudsley as camp hairdresser Kenneth.
Alice In Wonderland
Crescent Theatre Company tumbles down a rabbit hole with Alice In Wonderland between December 4 and 15. James David Knapp’s family-friendly adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s timeless novel becomes curiouser and curiouser as Alice journeys through the enchanted realm inhabited by a Mad Hatter and a grinning Cheshire cat.
Singing sensation Jimmy Osmond arrives in Birmingham on December 19 to buckle his swash as Captain Hook in the high-flying pantomime Peter Pan at the Hippodrome
. Jaymi Hensley from pop group Union J promises to never grow old in the title role and Meera Syal makes her pantomime debut as the Magical Mermaid.
Christmas Choral Concerts
Also, during December the Symphony Hall hosts a stocking full of Christmas choral concerts featuring special guest hosts including Kimberly Walsh from Girls Aloud, Matt Baker from The One Show and gardener extraordinaire Alan Titchmarsh (www.thsh.co.uk).