When the German market arrives in Birmingham you know your Christmas spirit is about to be unleashed. It’s the starting pistol of all festive fun. Yeah, it’s only November 17th but I challenge you to visit and not feel giddy with Christmas cheer. Or maybe that’s just the gluhwein…
If quaffing bratwursts and hot wine is not your thing, the mass of twinkling lights and Christmas decor will undoubtedly lift the spirit of any miserable scrooge among us.
The market opened last night and today the Birmingham Mail (article at the end of post) asked me to go along with my two children – Alannah, 2 and Barnaby, six months – to find out exactly how family-friendly it really was. So we did. And roped in my friend Katie and her two-year-old daughter Ella to come too.
So what was the Christmas Market like with two two-year olds and a six-month-old baby? Fun for the kiddies or a nightmare with a pushchair?
How hard was it to get there from the train station?
We got the train into Moor Street and walked across. It was really quick and easily accessible up a long winding ramp opposite the station. We arrived at 1pm and luckily it wasn’t as busy as we expected.
We left the market at the other end round the back of Victoria Square. It was busier this end, there were a lot more people standing around at the food and drink stalls. We left at 4pm and found it quick and easy to get to Snowhill train station.
Can you easily push a buggy around the market?
I think we must have picked a good time as although there were crowds of people, the market didn’t feel too busy or too stressful. We were able to potter along and stop at all the different stalls, it was pretty easy to push the pushchair and walk with two toddlers. Or push them (both at times!!) on an detachable buggy board.
At this time of day there were lots of other families with pushchairs and/or young children walking alongside them. Everyone was really polite and stopped to let us through or helped us by moving slightly out our way.
The stallholders were also really chatty, waving to our little ones and making them smile. Although there were crowds of people it seems to move along at a steady pace.
What is there for kids to do?
There were so many things for them to look at and be intrigued by. My daughter loved all the Christmas lights and colourful decorations; a few stalls had Father Christmas with a reindeer and sleigh on their roofs.
Both toddlers enjoyed looking at all the wooden toys, cuddly animals, sweets, Christmas decorations, candles etc.
The singing moose was also a big hit! My friend and her daughter went on the carousel and rode a horse together; it was £2.50 per person and lasted about five minutes.
Generally though the girls seemed to just enjoy the buzz of walking around, looking at everything wide eyed.
And eating lots of naughty food, of course.
Can you still enjoy the grown up elements of the market?
Even though we had a six-month-old baby and two two-year-olds in tow we still had a brilliant afternoon.
We did plan to stop for a gluhwein on the way home thinking the girls could share a hot chocolate but we ran out of time.
In past years, without kids, we’ve grabbed a hot wine and strolled around the market drinking it, but that seemed an impossible challenge with a toddler and baby, I had no hands free to carry it!
Where can you change a nappy or give a feed?
We headed to the museum for a quick pit stop and nappy change, it has three different baby change facilities – one on each floor.
We used the entrance on Edmund Street as it’s easy to get into with a pushchair, the other entrance has steps. The museum was the perfect place for a quick break, to get warm again, change nappies, check you have all your belongings (children’s hats, gloves etc) and discuss where to go next.
There is also a baby change facility in Starbucks on the main stretch of market along New Street, we stopped there to give my 6 month old son a quick bottle of milk. There are quite a few other coffee shops around too. I didn’t find any places along the market to sit on bench to feed though
What can kids eat?
My daughter tried for the first time and loved a traditional bratwurst sausage.
She also had a fruit skewer with grapes, banana and strawberries covered in chocolate (she thought all her Christmases had come at once!).
There was also crepes and pretzels which children could try. Or burgers and pizza slices.
The girls sat on the train home with huge smiles on their faces, sausage in their bellies, chocolate around their mouths and a twinkle in their eye. There was not a tantrum in sight. We definitely enjoyed yourselves and would recommend going to all families.
The market is definitely child friendly as long as you’re willing to keep an eye on little ones all the way around. There are crowds, especially around the food and alcohol stalls, so you need make sure no-one accidentally wanders off.
The staff were lovely and super friendly.
The bratwurst are still legendary (will have to go back and sample the gluhwein)
Christmas cheer is everywhere, it would be impossible to not come away smiling.
You can see my article in the Birmingham Mail here.
*Disclaimer: This article was in collaboration with the Birmingham Mail, all photos and thoughts are my own and 100% honest*