Birmingham is known as the city of a thousand trades, but throughout history our civic leaders have sought to grow the city and its reputation ever further.
In 1966, Lord Mayor of Birmingham, George Corbyn Barrow and the Mayor of Frankfurt, Willi Brundert, signed a pledge to maintain close links of friendship and share ideas that would benefit their citizens’ wellbeing.
While many things have changed over the intervening decades, Birmingham’s relationship with its German partner has remained constant.
Later today (17 November 2016), I will be joined by the current Mayor of Frankfurt, Peter Feldmann, in opening the Frankfurt Christmas Market – before renewing our pledge to partner each other for many more years to come.
History is important and we will be contributing to history tonight as our Leader Cllr John Clancy, Mayor Feldmann and myself sign the renewed pledge. The text of this is written in the same spirit as that signed in 1966 and encourages our two cities to continue working together.
Birmingham’s friendship with Frankfurt benefits both cities, not just in terms of partnership but also cultural and educational exchanges as well as business opportunities.
However one of the most significant elements of our partnership is the Frankfurt Christmas Market, which has been the traditional launch of Christmas festivities in Birmingham for the past 17 years. It is a vibrant symbol of our city’s longstanding partnership and enduring friendship with the city of Frankfurt.
Yes it is fun and full of atmosphere, but – along with its counterpart the Christmas Craft Market in Centenary Square – the market has boosted commerce in the city centre, attracting millions of visitors from across the country and beyond.
The Frankfurt Christmas Market was recently named as one of two UK events in Tatler magazine’s top six Christmas markets in Europe – alongside markets in Austria, Czech Republic and Germany.
Today also marks the start of German Week in Birmingham, with a wide programme of events including the arts, business and education – to mark our milestone anniversary.
Friendships are based on history, mutual understanding and above all an ability to work together and support each other. Long may ours continue.