1. ITV Report

Why is Birmingham becoming so popular?

Birmingham is the fastest growing Christmas and New Year's Eve destination for 2013-14, according to new figures released by Expedia.co.uk.

The online travel agent has seen bookings to the city increase by 118% for the festive period.

The figures may be linked to foreign publications like New York Magazine advising its readers to visit Birmingham over London.

We look at a few reasons why Birmingham might be proving so popular during the festive period and beyond.

1. The German Market

German Market Credit: ITV News Central

The bright lights, tasty food and drink on offer at Birmingham's German Market has proven to be a big favourite with tourists and is now the largest outdoor Christmas Market in the country.

The Market has been going for 12 years now and become a big part of the city’s annual Christmas events.

With traditional stalls located at Victoria Square, New Street, Centenary Square and Chamberlain Square from mid-November until 22 December, there is ample opportunity for locals and visitors to enjoy the German mulled wine (Gluhwein), grilled sausages, German beer, and crepes on offer.

2. Shopping

Selfridges Building Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

One of the largest shopping centres in the UK is right in the middle of Birmingham. The Bullring boasts the Selfridges store, more than 100 shops and a host of restaurants.

Birmingham also has the Mailbox, Pallasades and the genteel Great Western Arcade for tourists to visit.

3. Cuisine

Made in Birmingham since the 1970s Credit: David Jones/PA Archive

There are four Michelin Star restaurants in the city, including Lasan and Purnell's, and a whole swathe of Birmingham is dedicated to Asian food (best known as the Balti Triangle).

4. General Happiness

It appears life in the West Midlands might be on the up after recent Office for National Statistics data revealed life satisfaction and worthwhile increased significantly in 2012/13. Anxiety levels also fell.

The West Midlands was the region with the biggest national change between 2011/12 and 2012/13.

The West Midlands also had the largest fall in the proportions of people giving a low rating of 4 or less out of 10 for life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness.

5. Birmingham's Canals

Canals between the Mailbox and Brindley Place in Birmingham Credit: Katja Ogrin/EMPICS Entertainment

In two weeks of August this year a record number of almost five and a half million visitors made trips to Britain's rivers and canals, according to the Canal and River Trust.

The group is responsible for more than 100 miles of historic canals in Birmingham, the Black Country and Worcestershire.

The booming tourist numbers should be good news for Birmingham, which has 140 miles of navigable water.