In pictures: Empty city centres where Christmas markets would normally be in full swing

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2 min read
Composite picture showing the Christmas market on New Street, Birmingham, in years gone by (L) and the same scene pictured looking near deserted in 2020 (R).  See SWNS story SWMDxmas.  Eerie photographs show the deserted streets of British cities where Christmas markets would now be in full swing if they hadn't been cancelled due to coronavirus.  Disheartening images show the empty squares of Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Leeds and Bath compared to the thriving scenes of festive activity in years gone by.  Millions of visitors flock to the winter wonderlands to enjoy fairground rides and stalls selling handmade gifts, bratwurst, roasted chestnuts, mince pies and mulled wine.  But the Covid-19 pandemic has forced the attractions to be scrapped this year as comparison photos give a sobering look at what to expect for Christmas 2020.
The busy Christmas market on New Street, Birmingham, in a typical year (left), and the same scene looking near deserted in 2020. (SWNS)

UK city centres would normally be rammed with people attending Christmas markets but are currently deserted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new set of eerie comparison photos shows empty streets in Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Leeds and Bath alongside scenes of bustling festive activity in previous years.

Millions of visitors annually flock to the winter wonderlands to enjoy fairground rides and stalls selling handmade gifts, bratwurst, mince pies and mulled wine.

But the attractions are scrapped this year, and the comparison provides a sobering look at Christmas 2020.



There was no sign of a Ferris wheel in Birmingham's Centenary Square this week, and the vibrant Christmas lights were missing from outside Bath Abbey.

Manchester's town hall looked more like a boarded-up building site at the spot where the entrance to the city's popular market would usually be.

Over 2.6 million people visited Edinburgh last winter, but the usually colourful East Princes Street Gardens now lie in darkness.

And an empty Millennium Square makes Leeds look like a ghost town instead of being packed with revellers getting into the festive spirit.


Watch: These Beloved Christmas Markets in Europe Won't Open in 2020

Council leaders have previously expressed disappointment at having to scrap their famous Christmas markets due to public health concerns.

It is estimated that 14 million Britons attend them each year, bringing a £3bn boost to the economy.

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market, which attracts around 5 million visitors a year, is absent from the city for the first year since 2001.

Councillor Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "The Frankfurt Christmas Market is one of Birmingham’s great festive events, attracting millions of people to the city centre – so 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."


Most of the seasonal events were cancelled earlier this year ahead of Britain's second lockdown, which has seen Christmas plunged into further doubt.

But it was revealed on Wednesday families may be able to spend Christmas together, under government plans to temporarily relax COVID-19 restrictions.

According to The Times, ministers are considering proposals to extend family support bubbles to two or three households for a few days over the festive period.

Just last week government scientists warned ongoing restrictions are likely to last into December and over Christmas in order to keep a second wave under control.

Pictures: SWNS

Watch: Here are Britain's biggest Christmas markets

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