St Albans Christmas market continues to divide public opinion

St Albans Christmas Market bar with the cathedral in the background

St Albans Christmas Market bar with the cathedral in the background - Credit: Archant

Losses accumulated by the St Albans Christmas market are dividing public opinion about what changes should be made for next year.

The district council has revealed a deficit of about £53,000 for last year’s event, and since it began in 2013 the market has lost nearly a quarter of a million pounds.

Nonetheless, councillors are positive the market can make money and insist the overall benefits of tourists coming to the town more than compensate for the loss on paper.

A record 118,000 people visited the festivities in the Vintry Garden the year, and 67 per cent of those were from outside St Albans.

Public opinion agrees with the councillors, as out of 149 people who responded to a poll run by the Herts Ad a majority believe it should go ahead another year.

Fifty three per cent of answers said yes, 41 per cent said no, and six per cent said they were unsure.

On social media, commenters had many ideas on how to improve the market for next year.

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A business owner on St Albans Businesses Facebook page, Jeanette Lendon, thought it should have stayed open longer: “The whole experience of a Christmas market is to walk round it at night, with mulled wine, carol singers and have an experience.

“When I went last year half the stalls were either still shut or just setting up, they should be open and ready to face customers as soon as it is open.”

Hayley Higgins said she wanted to rent a chalet, but they were too expensive: “It would be great to make it more about showcasing local brands, St Albans have so many great businesses and such musical talent available for little evening performances, nativities, carols and wine in the evening.”

A lot of people thought it needed revamping, not cancelling.

There was a mixed response on the St Albans Past and Present Memories Facebook group, with common improvement suggestions as extending the market and moving it into the town centre.

Christina Whorrod said: “It needs to be more central, in front of the Alban Arena and that area in general would be better and would compliment our regular market.”

Suzanne Purtow said: “It should run right up till Christmas as the continental ones do. Prices need to be cheaper, not easy I know when the traders are charged so much to hire a hut. Better signage would help too.”

Steve Pena thought expectations were too high: “Make it snow and arrange for the real Santa Claus and Rudolph to make guest appearances each and every day.

“Let him give all the children handmade toys while he sits in a magical grotto surrounded by real elves and pixies. Pay people to attend then let them spend the money in the market while heavenly choirs sing traditional carols.”

Laura Burns said: “Am I the only person that likes the Christmas market?”

Speaking after the losses report came out, Cllr Anthony Rowlands said the market will definitely still take place next year: “That wasn’t in question, what we were doing was expressing serious concerns.

“We have highlighted some issues which I suspect that at the end of this year’s event, after some work has been done, we will consider again to see if this market is on the right trajectory to flourish.”