St Albans Christmas Market revamped by Meraki Festival for 2018
PUBLISHED: 15:30 27 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:30 27 June 2018
St Albans' troubled Christmas Market will be completely transformed by the organisers of the popular Meraki Festival for this year's festivities.
The annual event has attracted criticism each year for its location, chalet hire price, schedule, timings, and management.
St Albans district council (SADC) has had to pay a £230,000 bill since it launched in 2013, and although it has increased its income over this period it has never broken even.
But this year the Meraki Festival is taking over, overhauling the operation, offering a host of new activities and transforming the city into a winter wonderland.
The Meraki Christmas Festival will feature fun fair rides, children’s ice skating, a three tier tipi bar and firepit, theatre, an ice bar, a high tech Santa’s Grotto, a greater number of chalets, live music, and more spaces for socialising.
Parents can drop off the little ones in a Christmas creche, and classic films will be shown in the Meraki Christmas Movie House.
Traditional festive treats will be served in a covered seating area.
Previously situated in the closed-off St Albans Cathedral Vintry Gardens, this year it will be moved to the events meadow at Verulamium Park.
Meraki Festival founder Kerry Marks said: “We are unbelievably excited about bringing a wonderland style Christmas event to St Albans this December.
“Our event will be packed full of festive experiences and the beauty of Christmas. Community is at the heart of what we do at Meraki, so the event will be free to enter and will have something for everyone.
“We cannot wait to welcome you all.”
She said to expect festive ambience, community entertainment, gorgeous food and drink, and quirky, artisan-made goods to buy.
It will run Tuesday to Sunday from Friday November 30 until Saturday December 22. There will be late-night opening Thursday to Saturday.
District councillor Salih Gaygusuz, SADC’s portfolio holder for the community, said the Vintry Gardens were lovely but limited: “By moving to the events meadow, we have a lot more room to expand into and yet we are still very close to the city centre.
“It is vital that city centre businesses are boosted by the extra visitors the market will attract and we are looking at various ways of ensuring people are encouraged to go back and forth to both areas. We want the whole local economy to benefit.”
All of these plans are dependant on Meraki gaining planning approval from SADC.
He added: “With Meraki providing a great many other attractions, the events meadow will be one of the places to go to in St Albans during the festive period.
“Meraki has huge experience in organising live entertainment, most notably their summer music festival, and I am sure they will make a huge success of this.”
That summer event is an annual family music festival on Herts County Showground which was launched last year.
This year’s festival, which runs from August 10-12, features Morcheeba, Gabrielle, All Saints, Pixie Lott, Nik Kershaw and 10CC.
DJs playing over the weekend include Judge Jules, Danny Rampling, Seb Fontaine, Tall Paul and Jonathan Ulysses.
Entertainment highlights include a roller disco, Europe’s biggest outdoor inflatable water slide, family favourites the Flying Seagull Project, and the UK’s first interactive mobile caving system, providing 90ft of artificial caving to make your way through.
Camping is still available. For further information and to book tickets visit merakifestival.com