Berlin attack: Christmas markets in England react

Birmingham Christmas market file photo Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Birmingham has one of the UK's biggest Christmas markets

European Christmas markets have become a common fixture on the festive calendar in cities around the UK. In the wake of the lorry attack in Berlin, how have visitors and stallholders in some of the biggest been affected?

Twelve people were killed and dozens injured when the lorry ploughed through the popular market near west Berlin's main shopping street, the Kurfuerstendamm, on Monday night.

Loaded with steel beams, it crashed through wooden huts and stands packed with tourists and locals.

As authorities announced a review of security plans for UK festive events, at similar-looking structures across England on Tuesday the visitors still came to buy their food and Christmas goods. But what were the thoughts of those shopping and working there?


At Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market, the largest authentic German Christmas market outside Germany or Austria, there was an air of defiance from shoppers.

Visitors browsed stalls and tucked into bratwursts and while traders were reluctant to speak, it was a case of business as usual with people determined to carry on despite the attack in Berlin.

Image caption Cathy Sotillo and her daughter Helen said they wanted to "express solidarity" with those in Berlin

Cathy Sotillo, from Canterbury, was in the city visiting her daughter Helen, a student at the University of Birmingham.

She said they wanted to "express solidarity" with those in Berlin.

"We thought we would come here to express allegiance and a sense of resilience and a refusal to be cowed by the events of last night," said Mrs Sotillo.

Image caption Martin Stand, pictured with wife Melanie, said we cannot live in fear

Martin Stand, who is originally from Harborne in Birmingham but now lives in Darlington, said the attack had not stopped him from visiting the market "because that's what terrorists aim to do".

"We can't live our lives in fear," he said.

His wife Melanie said she had worked in City Plaza in Birmingham during the late 1980s and early 1990s and said they had often received threats purporting to be from the IRA.

She said: "I was 15 or 16 and my attitude was 'you are not changing my life' and that's my attitude now.

"We need to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters."

Image caption There was a sense of defiance at the Birmingham Christmas market as people visited on Tuesday

Chhaya Solanki, who had travelled to the market from Leicester with her daughter Vinaya, six, said she had been reassured by the level of security.

Concrete bollards have been installed at a number of locations around the perimeter of the Birmingham markets this year as part of a series of safety measures.

And West Midlands Police said it was reviewing its response and "increasing visible patrols where required to provide reassurance".

"We've seen more than two dozen security and police and it is nice to know that they are patrolling, so we do feel safe despite what happened," Ms Solanki said.

Image caption Market trader Cary Sutton said we cannot "allow it to intimidate us"

Market trader Cary Sutton said we cannot allow this to "intimidate us all".

"My family have been trading in Birmingham for more than 100 years, they've seen the Luftwaffe here, the IRA bomb the city, so my standpoint is nothing would intimidate me.

"I just hope it doesn't affect our way of life," he added.

Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy said the city was "united with Berlin" and the Library of Birmingham would be lit with the colours of the German flag.

"We welcome a large number of our German friends to Birmingham at this time every year and today we stand with them and the people of Berlin," he said.


Image caption Matt Banks and Anna Cutler, were undeterred by the outrage

On a bitterly cold penultimate day at Manchester's Christmas market there was a typically phlegmatic northern response to the Berlin attack.

The outrage failed to deter Matt Banks and Anna Cutler from making the 30-mile trip from Preston to Manchester.

"It's just the way the world is now," said Matt.

"It wasn't going to stop us from enjoying Christmas," added Anna, sipping from her hot mulled wine.

Image caption Nicky Storey, who was at the market with children Charlotte and Chris, said the attack had not put her off visiting

Nicky Storey, who did not think twice visiting from Warrington with children Charlotte and Chris, said: "If you stop your life, these people have won.

"It did not put me off."

Image caption Nicole Capescicova said she had been scared when she had heard the news

One person who was nervous, however, was Nicole Capescicova from Slovakia who was working her first year at the market on a food and drink stall.

"When I heard what happened in Berlin last night I was scared about this morning. I am glad there is only one day left," she said.

"If it can happen in a country like Germany, it can happen anywhere."

Greater Manchester Police said they had strengthened their presence at the markets, which have almost 350 stalls spread across 10 sites in the city, "to ensure that people feel safe to go about their daily lives".


Image caption Police officers on horseback were present at Broadmead Christmas Market in Bristol

Business was brisk on a cold and sunny day among the 40-odd stalls at Bristol's Broadmead Christmas Market.

While people were feasting their eyes on the festive offerings, two police officers on horseback were keeping a watchful eye on proceedings and proving a hit with some of the younger members keen to have their photo taken with them.

One trader, who did not wish to be named, said it was important to continue with daily life.

"My thoughts are with the German people whose lives were changed so quickly by such a cowardly attack," he said.

"But it's important that we don't let this atrocity stop us from going ahead with our day to day life, especially at Christmas."

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