Much-needed changes to be made to Stratford's Victorian Christmas Market - The Leamington Observer

Much-needed changes to be made to Stratford's Victorian Christmas Market

Leamington Editorial 27th Feb, 2024   0

MUCH-needed changes are being made to Stratford’s Victorian Christmas Market following a raft of complaints including overcrowding.

Stratford District Council’s Cabinet is set to agree to change the format of the popular festive event when it meets on Monday (March 4).

The Victorian Market began in 2017 and has grown in terms of visitors and vehicles attending the event ever since. It was originally a three-day event with 207 stalls but in 2021 it was agreed to extend the event to four days due to its growth and popularity.

It is now the biggest Christmas market in the country and is bigger than the Birmingham German Christmas Market, where it is all pedestrianised and does not compromise the existing infrastructure nor impact on traffic movements.

In 2023, there were 320 stalls at Stratford’s Christmas market and visitor numbers were estimated to be over 200,000 people with overwhelming evidence showing that Saturday was the busiest day. Coach numbers also appear to grow year on year. The Riverside Coach and Lorry Park was full on the Saturday from 9.30am.

A debrief meeting is held each year after the Christmas market to feed into operational planning for the following year.

The format for 2024 will see the Christmas market taking place on two consecutive weekends rather than a continuous four-day Thursday to Sunday event to mitigate major health and safety concerns and traffic and resident disruption.

In addition, the number of stalls would be reduced to around 200 a day with a revised layout; no funfair, new traffic management plans, Wood Street, High Street and Union Street remaining open and road closures limited to Bridge Street and Waterside and visitor numbers spread over two weekends.

The debrief following the 2023 event raised a number of issues including overcrowding – especially on the Saturday, alternative locations of bus stops and taxi ranks, excessive noise from the funfair, traffic movement and congestion, access for emergency vehicles, food hygiene on the Feast Street stalls, and pressure on public toilet provision with very long queues.

There were also reports of stalls being crowded together with insufficient gaps for safety and making pedestrian movement difficult.

The Victorian Christmas Market is operated on behalf of SDC and Stratford Town Council by LSD Promotions Ltd as part of the Stratford markets agreement and there is a contractual obligation for the Victorian Christmas Market to take place.

Any changes agreed by SDC’s Cabinet are subject to the agreement of Stratford Town Council.


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