Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure
Cheltenham will sparkle this Christmas – just without its festive market
It comes as no surprise, but not without disappointment, that Cheltenham’s Christmas Market has been cancelled because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Organisers behind the popular festive attraction, Cheltenham BID, said it had made the decision in consultation with Gloucestershire Public Health and the town’s Safety Advisory Group.
It was, admitted the Business Improvement District, a hard decision to make – but also an easy one when it came to the need to look after everyone in the town during what remained a challenging time.
Alex Rose, chairman of the BID and managing director at Beards Jewellery, said: “The decision to cancel was a hard one. We looked at several alternative plans which would enable us to bring the extended markets to town, but the public’s health must come first.
“The board and BID team are working flat out to try and support business during this challenging time and ask the public to continue to support their local businesses by shopping and eating locally.”
Market Place, the business which would have been running a new section of the market by Imperial Gardens and 131 The Promenade had a wide array of traders, including some local businesses, lined up.
Allan Hartwell, managing director, said: “It is disappointing that the current situation has prevented us from bringing this exciting new addition to Cheltenham this year, but it is of paramount importance that we keep everyone safe.”
Visitors need not fear the town will lose any of its Christmas magic. Plan ‘B’ has possibly even more sparkle – with the BID planning to provide completely new Christmas lights across the town centre, supported by Cheltenham Borough Council.
It also plans to put on “a range of family activities and continue to work with businesses to make Christmas as special as possible”.
Golden baubles will hang from the trees on the pedestrianised Promenade and gold powder-coated holly, reindeer, stars and harps will adorn the lampposts in other streets. A new Christmas tree will be installed at the Montpellier roundabout.
The BID has taken over responsibility for the markets from the borough council for the first time this year and had appointed two new operators, with plans to expand from the pedestrianised Promenade all the way up to Imperial Gardens.
Following the Government’s announcement on ‘the rule of six’ was made on September 9, it was clear that it would not be safe to run a market of any kind this year.
Jess Goodwin, event manager for the BID and Marketing Cheltenham, said: “With nearby places like Worcester also cancelling their markets, Cheltenham would have been the only town in the South West and Midlands still running a market, attracting large crowds from neighbouring regions, which could affect the level of infection within the local area and we want to do what is necessary to avoid this.”
Cities like Birmingham, Gloucester and Bath have all cancelled their Christmas markets amid concerns over the upsurge in the number of people contracting Coronavirus nationally.
The BID will now continue to work to ensure that Cheltenham is a safe place to come and enjoy Christmas shopping.
A BID is a business-led and business-funded body set up to improve a defined area, with the money raised being spent on a range of projects.
Cheltenham BID has pledged to deliver improvements in five key areas: marketing and promotion, town centre events, parking and accessibility, business support and public realm improvements.