The Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham has been cancelled this year – hitting the city’s tourism economy by hundreds of millions.
The announcement comes just a week after organisers had confirmed the dates for the 2020 event.
This year’s market was due to run from November 5 to December 23 but the rising tide of covid-19 cases in the city and the general restrictions on mass gatherings meant it was always unlikely to go ahead.
The Christmas Market attracts around five million visitors a year and is estimated to be worth more than £400 million to the city’s economy.
This will be the first time since 2001 it has not taken place and organisers said their attention would now turn to the 2021 event.
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Kurt Stroscher, Frankfurt City Council’s director of festivals and events, said: “The decision to cancel the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market has been made with a very heavy heart.
“We have carefully explored all possible options because of its importance to the public, traders and local economy but the health and safety of visitors had to be our top priority.
“Christmas markets like this are a place for socialising and ‘cosy closeness’ which couldn’t be offered with social distancing and hygiene rules introduced to help protect people from covid-19.
“Consideration was also given to the possibility visitors might not adhere to the social distancing rules and behave in ways that they have been used to in the past.
“Under no circumstances did we want the Christmas Market to become a place that promotes the pandemic.
“Therefore, the right decision could only be to not bring the market to Birmingham this year.”
Birmingham City Council leader Cllr Ian Ward added: “It is disappointing we won’t be hosting the market this year but I welcome the organiser’s decision to put the public’s health and safety first.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved in planning and staging the market who works so hard, all year round, to make this such a well-run and special festive event.
“Christmas will look a little different this year so we can all enjoy it safely and we look forward to seeing the market return for its 21st year in 2021.”
Justin Varney, director of public health in Birmingham, had previously said the event was “not a done deal” and warned that a series of measures would have to be met in order for the event to be given the green light.
These included organisers proving how they would disinfect beer jugs, keep eating and drinking areas as clean as possible and adhere to social distancing guidelines.