Lincoln Christmas Market celebrated its 40th anniversary with its busiest ever event, as over 300,000 people attended over four days last week, but whether or not it was a success this year appears to have divided opinion.
Many enjoyed the atmosphere and felt the Christmas cheer, but others were annoyed with issues such as overcrowding, prices and the number of stalls available.
Saturday was the busiest of the four days and the big crowds proved too much for some, with concerns raised about safety.
But not all were phased, as others said the crowds of people were to be expected, especially on the Saturday, and were pleased to see the event bringing money into the city.
There have also been suggestions that the event needs to be held over more than four days, a long running suggestion that never materialised.
Sue Walker enjoyed her experience of the market on Friday, December 2, saying: “It was excellent. Used park and ride for the first time. Will use again next year. Yes it was busy but that’s to be expected, it’s a great Christmas market. See you next year.”
“I will be back”
Emma Towler went with her husband during the evening of Thursday, December 1 and said it was “very well organised” and “not too busy” and they “enjoyed the food we had”.
Male Wallhead added: “Absolutely brilliant. We went twice. It brought some good money into the city and that’s what it’s about. Just need to sort the one-way system out properly and I’m sure it will work like it has done other years.”
Pete Jackson said: “Paid my first visit to this market…. and what a wonderful market it is. I have been to York, Birmingham and Sheffield, even to Winter Wonderland at Nottingham and London, but when it comes to setting and atmosphere this one tops the lot. I can see why it is so popular.
“Some people on about prices of bratwurst etc. Believe me they are similar wherever you go. Great assortment of stalls too. Well done Lincoln, I will be back.”
Delia Armstrong said: “Lovely atmosphere, especially in the Bail, Cathedral and Castle. Very overpriced food stalls, but on the whole so much nicer than other cities’ Christmas markets.”
“Scared of being crushed”
The crowds of people concerned Charlotte Emily, who said: “Way, way too busy. We were like sardines and being dragged along with the crowd, not ideal with six children.
“Such a shame as it looked beautiful and stalls looked great…but we couldn’t get to them. Spread it out over two or three weekends and it would be lovely.”
Jo-sly Hunt said: “My daughter and their family (were) left scared of being crushed with a two-year-old child.”
Lindsey Berry said the one-way system was “the worst it has ever been”. She said: “I understand the queue to get in was the result of the one to leave, but it was ridiculous.
“We walked miles to get round the market unnecessarily. Whoever designed the route needs to be out of a job for next year as there were not hundreds of happy people at the market this year, unlike what the tannoy announcer kept saying, we were frustrated, tired and disappointed.”
Christopher Cook said “the quirkiness meter went off the scale when I realised that the Christmas market had turned into one giant one-way system, in which if you left the mass stampede of people to view a stall, you would quickly get frowned upon by the 100 people behind you for getting out of sync with the crowd, by blocking their way.
He added: “One lasting memory of the evening was the sight of the Park & Ride queue, which was about as long as you could possibly imagine…times eight. The queue was as long as if Glastonbury had decided to only supply one portaloo for the event, and everybody was expected to use it.”
Mr Cook also suggested making it a ticketed event in the future as “people may actually be able to browse”.
“Can’t even park on my own street”
Local resident Pete Crawshaw was also frustrated, saying he wasn’t enjoying it as he “can’t even park on my own street”.
Ben Paterson added: “Far too busy. Couldn’t see any stalls as (it was) rammed. Overpriced, £12 for dried oranges.”
Linda Bradley visited the market twice, both on the opening night on Thursday evening and late afternoon on the busy Saturday.
She said: “We were held up getting in and out of the Castle but this was done for a reason (crowd management). Yes, we were in a big crowd, but chatting to people around us all seemed to be in good spirits.
“My only advice is don’t go with dogs, babies in pushchairs, or wheelchairs, at peak times. Normally I would steer clear of the Saturday but we had a visitor who wanted to go.”
Ian Penn said he went on Saturday evening “which probably wasn’t the best idea, as it was so busy and made it challenging to see anything”.
He said: “However, possibly a post COVID bounce in numbers and almost a victim of its success. Not sure what the council can do the mitigate that. They hardly want to discourage attendance.
“Maybe it does need to be on longer, although I appreciate that will not be popular with some local residents.”
Ally Garton said: “Way too busy and way too expensive. It’s always lovely and festive and that’s enjoyable in its own right, but when you can barely move, let alone see the stalls, something has to change.”
Ian Shaw said he has been attending the festive event for 39 years, but “won’t be bothering next year” and he was critical of side streets being “very badly lit”.
We also caught up with visitors who were attending from other towns and cities to get their verdict on day two of the event:
Simon Walters, Event Commander for the Lincoln Christmas Market said: “Over the four days, we welcomed over 300,000 people making it the busiest Lincoln Christmas Market on record.
“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our partners, including Lincolnshire Police and our contractors and stewards for their fantastic support during the busy periods during the market.
“We work tirelessly throughout the year to plan the market to ensure a safe event for all and we’d also like to thank visitors for their patience during busy times when crowd control methods were put in place on the Saturday afternoon.
“While we had a very busy Saturday afternoon, we’ve had really positive feedback from both visitors and traders around the Christmas market experience and this highlights why Lincoln is such a great place to visit, work, live and invest.”
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