Birmingham & Black Country

Armed patrols as Birmingham Christmas market opens

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Media captionBirmingham's Frankfurt German Market returns for its 18th year

Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market has opened with an increased armed police presence.

Extra security barriers were also in place as a "precautionary measure", West Midlands Police said.

Now in its 18th year, the market attracted 4.6 million people last year, the city council said.

Birmingham Lord Mayor Councillor Anne Underwood described the market as one of the "most anticipated events" in the city's calendar.

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When is it running from?

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Image caption Birmingham has one of the UK's biggest Christmas markets
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Image caption Traders from all over the world attend the market

The market started on 16 November and runs for five weeks, finishing on Christmas Eve.

It runs from 10:00 - 21:00 daily in Victoria Square and New Street, serving up German fare including Glühwein and Bratwurst, while there will also be live performances on the bandstand.

What's different this year?

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Image caption There will be fewer stalls this year while development gets under way in the city centre
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Image caption Bratwurst and Glühwein are among the most popular foods consumed

The 2017 event will be smaller due to building work with 93 stalls - compared to 120 last year.

Traders are also leaving the city a little earlier this Christmas.

While last year's market stuck around until 29 December, this time - as in previous years - stallholders will pack up before Christmas, with 24 December being the final day.

The Christmas Craft Market will be rested this year as work on the Paradise development and refurbishment of Centenary Square into a public and large event space continues.

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Image caption Last year, 4.6 million people attended the market

The big wheel and ice rink, usually in Centenary Square, will be at Eastside Green, New Canal Street, near Millennium Point, until 7 January.

For the first time, food and drink stalls are in place opposite the entrance to The Mailbox shopping centre.

What's the security like?

Image caption Increased security measures, including bollards, have been installed this year

Police are increasing their armed presence this year following a spate of terror attacks across Europe.

West Midlands Police say officers who are trained to recognise suspicious behaviour will also be deployed.

It's a precautionary measure, says the force, and not in response to any specific threat.

But visitors should expect to see more armed officers, as well as concrete barriers - aimed at stopping vehicles - placed around the event site.

'Remain vigilant'

The city council has stressed, however, that this shouldn't cause alarm.

Deputy council leader Brigid Jones, said: "We had barriers for the first time last year so this is not new and my message would be that there is no need for concern or alarm.

"People should remain vigilant at all times when attending any major public event, but enjoy the market as for what it is - a celebration of Christmas in Birmingham."

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