Source: News release from St Albans Council
Exciting changes to the St Albans Christmas Market including new management, a more suitable venue and later opening hours aim to make it “bigger and better than ever.”
The major revamp is a response to the feedback that the organisers, St Albans City and District Council, received about last year’s event which was attended by over 100,000 people. A consultation with visitors, traders and other interested groups indicated the public wanted a more visible and accessible site than the walled Vintry Gardens by the Cathedral.They also wanted more entertainment, later opening hours, more chalets selling high-quality produce and more spaces for socialising.
All of these requests could be met this year with events firm Meraki, which runs a successful summer music festival in the District, hosting the attraction. The plan is for the market to move to the spacious events meadow at Verulamium Park and become part of Meraki’s Christmas Festival offering (subject to planning permission).
It will run for three weeks leading up to Christmas and be open six days a week. There will be late night opening until 11pm from Thursday to Saturday.
Meraki will provide additional attractions to create a winter wonderland at the venue. These will include an ice bar, funfair rides, a high-tech Santa’s Grotto and a variety of live entertainment.
It is also intended to ensure strong links with the City Centre are established so that its shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes continue to benefit from the extra visitors the market will attract.
The events meadow is a large open space just a short walk from the City Centre and opposite Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre. To provide a safe site that will be accessible to all, the ground will be covered by protective flooring. The extra space will allow in more traders to sell arts, crafts, novelty gifts and seasonal produce. There will also a wide range of food and drink outlets offering cuisine from around the world.
The market will open on Friday 30 November and run until Saturday 22 December and the planned opening hours are: Tuesday 11:30am – 10pm; Wednesday 11am – 10pm; Thursday to Saturday 10am-11pm; Sunday 10am – 8pm.
9 July 2018 - uipdate
We asked St Albans Council whether the contact to run the Christmas Market was awarded to Meraki after a competitive tendering process with other festival organisers. This was their response:
Joe Tavernier, Head of Community Services for St Albans City and District Council, said: “We talked to a number of market operators about running this year’s Christmas Market, but were struggling to find a credible provider able to develop the attraction in line with the valuable feedback we had obtained. Meraki, meanwhile, approached the leisure firm 1Life which has the licence for the events meadow and reached an agreement to hold its Christmas Festival there. This presented us with the exciting opportunity to include the market in the venture with Meraki being awarded the management contract.”
We were also advised that the initial contract is for 1 year, subject to review.
Image: Stephanie Belton