The organisers of Bakewell’s Winter Wonderland are facing heavy criticism after attendees took to social media to complain about the “awful” event, with one claiming it was so muddy it “resembled a First World War battlefield”.
Bakewell’s Winter Wonderland ran from Friday 18 to Sunday 20 November and is due to return to the site between Friday 9 and Sunday 11 December. It promised a Santa’s grotto, fireworks, reindeer, market, funfair, live music and an ice rink, among other attractions, but suffered a set back due to adverse weather conditions that caused the vast amounts of mud.
Many criticised the organisers for not being better prepared to deal with mud on site and for the lack of Christmas themed stalls alongside the food and alcohol stalls. Others claimed to have queued to enter the car park and then to enter the event, only to visit all the stalls within 20 minutes, leaving them questioning the price of the £7 entry fee.
Angry customers and stall holders have taken to the event’s Facebook page to complain, claiming that their requests for refunds and messages of complaint had been ignored by the organisers. A number of people recommended visiting Chatsworth House’s free Christmas market instead.
Andy Irving and his wife drove four hours to attend the fair, but claimed it was a “nasty, cheap, lacklustre, profiteering racket”.
Writing on Facebook, he said he and his wife had been equipped for facing muddy conditions, but “what we did not expect was an area that resembled a re-enactment of a First World War battlefield, with deeply rutted areas and mounds of sodden earth everywhere”.
Tom Bentley said the parking was “awful” and that “cars were getting stuck in the mud and they didn’t think to put anything down on the ground to make it safe to drive on,” he said on Facebook. “Then £7 each later to get into the show there was one tent with some Christmas stalls, the rest was just generic fairground. There was no Christmas theming to be found, just mud.”
Business owners running stalls have also complained about the conditions. Stephen Lipscombe said his wife had a mulled wine stall at the event that she had spent two weeks preparing for. “She made a big loss this weekend after paying to stand at the event, raw materials, Christmas decorations, transportation, accommodation, and even hiring a generator because no electricity was laid on,” he wrote on Facebook, adding that her stand was placed away from the thoroughfare and bright lights, limiting her passing trade.
“She is used to standing at winter events but this is the worst one she has ever stood on,” he said.
Jess Riches, who paid £240 to have a stall at the event in November and December, called it a “sham” and vowed to get her money back. She listed the costs she had spent on her stall, including £200 for a generator, £60 for lighting, and £500 for a Gala tent that became bent in the wind.
The organisers issued a statement, which said: “The event had some initial setbacks on the Friday due to a bad storm in the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately this delayed the arrival of some traders and resulted in damage to the grotto, which the event organiser rectified within two hours of opening - this is the only time Santa and his reindeer were unavailable. Visitors requesting a refund during this period were given one.”
The organisers said that people were warned to bring suitable footwear and that planned measures were put in place to combat the mud, including removing surface water overnight and laying straw, with any badly affected areas fenced off.
“Organisers are sorry to hear that some people have not enjoyed the event but the majority of feedback has been positive. There were almost 100 traders in place throughout the weekend both outside and in the large craft marquee. Over 2,000 gifts were given to children visiting Santa in his grotto.”