Birmingham’s German Christmas market has been cancelled due to the problems posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
A decision to call off this year’s event was confirmed by organisers on Wednesday, after “all possible options” for operating the market were considered.
The annual attraction, which has attracted around five million visitors a year to Birmingham, usually opens in mid-November and has taken place since 2001.
Kurt Stroscher, Frankfurt City Council’s director of festivals and events, said the decision to cancel the market had been made with a very heavy heart.
Mr Stroscher said: “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.”
It is hoped that the market will return in 2021 “in its recognisable form.”
The leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward, expressed disappointment at the news but welcomed the decision to put the public’s health and safety first.
Mr Ward said: “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.”
The announcement comes a day after West Midlands mayor Andy Street warned that the “very notable increase” in coronavirus cases in both Birmingham and neighbouring Solihull could lead to further restrictions.