Better or worse? Punters give their verdicts on St Albans Christmas Market
PUBLISHED: 18:54 20 December 2017
Punters at St Albans Christmas market have given their verdict on this year’s festive event.
Since opening the yuletide market has lost £230,000 and never made a profit, but last year’s £53,000 bill was an improvement on the loss of £57,449 in 2014 and £79,455 in 2013.
In previous years it was criticised for inconvenient opening hours, expensive chalet renting, lack of atmosphere, and a slightly out of centre location.
This year the market is open closer to Christmas, is all enclosed in the Vintry Gardens and featured entertainment from local performers and groups.
A charity card stall holder, Claire Reynolds, said: “It seems to be quite quiet today and I don’t know whether that’s because it’s a Tuesday.
“People seem to be walking through as they pass through the city rather than out with a view to buy gifts, so we’ve already slashed our prices today because we want to sell as much as possible.”
Customers Jackie and Nancy Taslaq visit the market every year. Jackie said: “We’ve just arrived but it’s okay - we just made our first purchase, we bought two Christmas tree decorations so we are quite excited.”
Nancy liked the set-up: “I think they organised the food section much better this time, having it all together rather than chaotically like last time.”
Keith Rofe came on a coach day trip from Buckinghamshire to St Albans: “This is a bit small really - is this it? It seems quite small, I expected there to be a lot more stalls.
“We saw there’s a normal market here, I assume on a Wednesday, but it’s a start and we will certainly be coming back. There’s more food and drink than anything else really - we expected to see more Christmassy-type decorations and cards and stuff like that.”
A bespoke woodturner, Richard Hatton, was selling his wares: “It’s slightly smaller [this year] but I think better quality, better atmosphere.”
He said the layout created a good “meeting place” ambiance.
Angela Mitton was perusing the stalls at a time without scheduled entertainment: “I think what is missing is music because I’ve just come back from the German Christmas markets and always if you have music it just adds to the festivities and this feels a little bit flat.”
She said although St Albans district council are “doing their best” it has a “long way to go before it gets anything like some of the other cathedral city markets”.
Head of community services for St Albans district council, Debbi White, said: “The Christmas market is now in its fifth year and has become an established part of the festive season in St Albans.
“We lost two days because of snow and suffered one particularly rainy weekend, so the total number of visitors might be slightly down on last year’s record 118,000.
“However, we have had a lot of very positive feedback.
“The snowglobe where families can have a memorable photograph taken has been especially popular as has the tinseltown tipi which has been showcasing local musicians and other talented entertainers.”
She said that “after listening to all the feedback we received about last year’s event, [they] made a number of changes this year”, including extending the event by four days so it was as close to Christmas as possible.
She added that the council will continue to listen to suggestions from traders, shoppers, and residents when improving next year’s event: “To help us do so, we are seeking people willing to take part in workshops early next year to help shape the future direction of the event.”
Interested people should contact firstname.lastname@example.org