Much-needed changes to Stratford's Victorian Christmas Market to go ahead - The Leamington Observer

Much-needed changes to Stratford's Victorian Christmas Market to go ahead

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

Stratford District Council’s Cabinet this week agreed to change the format of the popular festive event.

The Victorian Market began in 2017 and 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, which operates in a fully pedestrianised area unlike Stratford.

Last year, there were 320 stalls at Stratford’s Christmas market and more than 200,000 festive revellers were estimated to have attended.

The number of coaches visiting has also grown. The Riverside Coach and Lorry Park was full on the Saturday last year by 9.30am.

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

The 2023 debrief 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 toilets with very long queues.

There were also reports of stalls being crowded together with insufficient gaps inbetween them.

The format for this year will see the Christmas market take place on two consecutive weekends rather than a continuous four-day Thursday to Sunday event to hopefully ease overcrowding, and traffic and resident disruption.

In addition, the number of stalls will be reduced to around 200 a day with a revised layout and no funfair.

New traffic management plans will also be implemented, with Wood Street, High Street and Union Street remaining open, and road closures limited to Bridge Street and Waterside.

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.

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

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