March 24, 2023 12.00 pm This story is over 15 months old

Cancelled Lincoln Christmas Market organisers fear large numbers will still turn up

The council is still getting enquiries

The City of Lincoln Council is still receiving calls from stallholders and visitors to the now-lost Christmas Market, sparking fears that large numbers could turn up without the infrastructure to tackle them.

City of Lincoln Council’s Directorate for Communities and Environment Simon Walters updated a scrutiny committee on Thursday about the plans for events this year.

“We’re not going to put anything on that gives the impression that its a Christmas market because even now we’re getting queries from both stallholders and visitors that haven’t heard the news that the Christmas market is finished,” he said.

“We do remain concerned we will have a significant number of people arrive in the city without any of the infrastructure to cope with it, that may change in future years, but for this year I suspect the retail offer we will put on will be constrained to city square.”

Mr Walters said this year there would be a “small retail offer” over the Christmas period. He said, however, that Castle Square and other venues would also have other markets taking place.

Due to the tight timeline, council officers are already organising some of the replacement events and activities before consultation is concluded.

Events will be mainly focussed across City Square and the uphill area.

The first major event focus would be held across the Halloween period.

Lincoln Christmas Market was cancelled due to overcrowding problems | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Mr Walters said the feedback would be used to enhance 2023 but will then be made more concrete for 2024.

The council wants to use the £260,000 previously allocated to cover the Christmas market deficit to be used for a number of smaller events throughout the year

During the meeting on Thursday, officers said events to replace the now-lost Christmas market “probably” won’t bring in 320,000 people in 2023 due to the time-frame required to organise the events.

However, they said long-term they wanted to create a timetable that would attract that number and the £2million to the local economy that the Christmas Market created.

The authority is looking to focus on “Wow” events – things that bring people in from the wider area and encourage them to spend a weekend or longer in the area.

The council would also be boosting and working with cultural arts and events partners to enhance existing events.

An online survey launched last week received a lot of feedback suggestions including live music, food and drink based activities, celebrations of local talents and events that celebrate the city’s history.

However, there was no mention at the meeting of how many people on social media had suggested retaining the 40-year-old traditional event instead of replacing it.

The council could not guarantee that the £260,000 funding would be available for the next few years, with opposition councillors fearing the money will dwindle away over time.

“We’ve got some big financial challenges ahead over the next five years so I can’t guarantee that budget will stay intact beyond the next two years in the same way I can’t guarantee any budget across the council will stay intact… It depends on what our financial position is,” said Simon.

As part of the reallocation of budget, the council’s Christmas Lights Contract is also being looked at, with those bidding for the contract also being looked at where lights can be enhanced or expanded further down the High Street.

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