Drastic measures being taken to improve St Albans Christmas Market

St Albans Christmas Market

St Albans Christmas Market - Credit: Archant

An events company has been brought in to manage this year’s St Albans Christmas Market in a bid to beef it up for stallholders and visitors alike.

Richmond Event Management (REM) which has managed Bath’s Christmas Market for the past decade, will build the site in Vintry Gardens adjoining St Albans Abbey as well as provide security and deal with the day-to-day needs of traders.

St Albans council will retain the signing up stallholders and promoting the Christmas market as widely as possible.

Last year’s market was marred when 17 chalets were raided in the early hours of a morning in December despite the presence of nearby security staff. The council maintained that only four had any items stolen although 10 were broken into and attempts were made to break into five others.

There was also some criticism from traders about what was perceived as the poor running of the market and figures released earlier this year showed that it had run at a loss for the two years it has been in operation.

A new site design is planned for this year’s Christmas market which will open on November 26 as well as a map to guide people around the stalls.

A mini village will be created in Vintry Gardens complete with street names to make it easier to find specific stalls. Atmospheric lighting is being introduced and entertainers will perform.

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Local businesses will continue to operate from smaller chalets along Waxhouse Gate.

Liz Marcy, St Albans Christmas Market manager, said: “It is fantastic that Richmond Management Events chose to work with St Albans on our 2015 Christmas Market.

“They are in huge demand at this time of the year but were very impressed with our market and what we have achieved with it in only two years. They wanted to help us move it to the next level.

“REM has a huge amount of expertise in this area. The Bath Christmas Market is the largest Christmas shopping experience in the south-west and is one of the leading Christmas markets in the country.

She added: “We know they will help us put on the best St Albans Market so far and add a lot of value to the experience for our visitors.”

Mike Richmond, managing director of REM, said: “We always like to work as part of a team and develop good working relationships with everyone involved in a project. Having met the people behind the St Albans Christmas market, we really liked their positive attitude and passion for making it even more successful.”

St Albans council’s property and asset manager, Debbi White, said the contract would not amount to an additional cost to the council but would bring ‘enormous experience of this kind of specialised work’ to the Christmas Market.

She added: “We believe the involvement of REM will help us achieve further growth this year while continuing to improve the experience for both stallholders and visitors alike.”

The market will run until Sunday, December 20, and stallholders will have a choice of six different options on the length of their chalet hire, from the full 25 days down to seven days.

It will open earlier at the weekends in response to feedback from last year and will be in operation from 10am on Saturdays and Sundays.

Last year the Christmas Market attracted 90,000 visitors - double the number in 2013 - and with the expectation of an increase in the number of coach parties visiting this year, volunteers are being sought as ‘market markers’ to guide visitors from the coach drop-off points to the Vintry Garden and answer questions along the way.

Anyone who can help or would be interested in filling entertainment slots at the market or occupying one of the Waxhouse Gate stalls should email stalbanschristmasmarket@stalbans.gov.uk or visit www.enjoystalbans.co.uk