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England’s oldest Christmas market is scrapped ‘because it’s too popular’

Lincoln Christmas Market attracted a record 320,000 people last year - too many for the event to be run safely, according to city leaders

Alex Ross
Wednesday 06 December 2023 06:02 GMT
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England’s oldest Christmas market has been scrapped after last year’s “massive success” left city leaders worrying over public safety.

A record 320,000 people visited Lincoln’s Christmas Market in 2022, the same year the event celebrated 40 years as the country’s longest-running festive market.

The four-day event traditionally featured entertainers, choirs and brightly-lit amusements.

But officials decided to cancel this year’s event over fears too many people in a “small area” in the city centre made it “uncomfortable” for visitors.

Instead, the council is putting on a series of festive activities in the city centre, such as asn ice trail event this weekend.

Tens of thousands would flock to the Christmas market in Lincoln every year (Alamy Stock Photo)

But the decision, taken earlier this year, has caused outrage amongst the city’s folk and traders.

The city’s Conservative MP Karl McCartney has weighed into the dispute, criticising the Labour-run council for “cultural and economic vandalism”.

Posting on Facebook on 2 December, he wrote: “This time next week, Lincoln’s Christmas Market will have been in full swing. Until Lincoln’s Labour Party, who run the city council, closed it. In secret. Without a care about the impact on the public, community or businesses. Damaging livelihoods, jobs and our city’s reputation.”

In another post, he wrote: “Their [the city council] decision has not only damaged local jobs, businesses and charities, it has damaged our city’s reputation across the whole country. People are incredulous at their cultural and economic vandalism.”

Anger from some quarters against the city council only increased last week when councillors rejected a motion to bring back the market for next year.

Christan Meggitt, who runs Roly’s Fudge Pantry, told The Independent he purchased the shop in 2021 based on figures including the income from the annual Christmas market.

He said its cancellation meant he had to find other ways to support his family, including opening a new shop 100 miles away in Whitby.

He said: “The Christmas market last year got us through January, February and March up until the city started getting busy again. This year, I’ve had to explore new ways in making up for the lost income, it’s very frustrating.”

He added: “Last year was busy, but that was because of a number of factors with Leeds being cancelled and too many people coming on the one day, the Saturday.

This year’s market has been replaced with a series of festive events (Alamy Stock Photo)

“Unfortunately, Covid showed councils how much money they could save by not putting on events. I think this is more about money than any safety concerns. Many people are unhappy over it.”

On announcing the cancellation earlier this year, Councillor Ric Metcalfe, the city council leader, said “the massive success of 2022” had caused problems, with “so many people in such a small area over a short period of time can be uncomfortable”.

In a statement to The Independent, he said: “We understand some people’s disappointment that Lincoln Christmas Market is no more. The decision was announced nine months ago on the basis that we simply could not continue delivering an event that had been deemed a significant risk to public safety.

“Lincoln at Christmas remains a stunning place to visit, with lights all across the city centre and our new ice trail and traditional festive activities taking place this weekend.”

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