The new-look Sleaford Christmas Market has been hailed a resounding success by organisers, residents, visitors and traders.
Fine weather added to the optimistic atmosphere as people were welcomed on Sunday morning by the Mayor of Sleaford, Coun Grenville Jackson and Town Crier John Griffiths to the Market Place where they were then urged enjoy the many varied entertainments on offer, and help get cash registers ringing in local businesses.
The Mayor also pointed out that by reorganising the layout of the event, there was no need for the council to spend £3,500 on simply closing the roads in the town centre.
Instead, traffic flowed freely and shoppers flocked to the stalls assembled in the Market Place, Eastgate Car Park, Navigation Yard and the Town Hall, as well as additional attractions laid on by businesses and other organsations in Bristol Arcade, Millstream Square and White Hart Mews, filling the pavements up and down the main streets.
The Christingle in St Denys’ Church proved as popular as ever among families.
Music and dance continued throughout the day in the Market Place, culminating in a surprise performance by the local members of the Take Note choir, who had only formed six months ago under the guidance of Chelsey Barlow.
They ripped through a rousing selection of tunes including Merry Christmas Everybody by Shakin Stevens and This Is Me from The Greatest Showman that had the square packed ready for the exciting festive lights switch on by the Mayor, with a countdown by Lincs FM’s John Marshall assisted by youngsters Lucy Emsley and Keira Elliott.
This year’s event came together in reaction to some discontent among locals about the quality of last year’s event prompting Cara Jade Sandy of Sleaford and other residents to come forward to assist the Town Council in putting on a bigger and better show.
Cara said: “I’m literally ecstatic about how it has gone and want to thank everyone for coming. It has been amazing and Sleaford has really come together.”
One of the lead organisers of this year’s fantastic Sleaford Christmas Market she said the whole team is “buzzing” from the high of the event.
Cara said: “It has turned out a lot better than I imagined. I didn’t know how people would pull together, but we are just so happy.
“I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. We have had stall holders already booking for next year. The main street was heaving too and I walked around everywhere to check. Everywhere was busy, businesses were doing really well.”
They would be having a debrief in January and she said she already had some ideas forming for next year’s event.
Town Councillor Francesca Richards was thrilled too, saying: “It is the best market in ages with such a happy Christmas spirit. I’m very proud of everyone that worked on it.”
Traditionally the Christmas Market in Sleaford coincides with the two-day festival of decorated Christmas trees at the town’s Methodist Church and this year was no exception.
Jenny Paterson from the church said: “The Christmas Tree Festival was a huge success. There were 84 trees and the display was stunning - even more impressive than usual if that were possible.
“The imagination and creativity of the displayers is truly amazing. Over the two days we had over 1,000 visitors and raised over £3,000 - a third of which will be donated to LIVES.”
The Catholic Church and School also held a fundraising fair in White Hart Mews.