York’s Christmas Market will go ahead this year, say city bosses

Bustling… the Christmas market in 2019

York’s Christmas market – the St Nicholas Fair – is still due to go ahead later this year.

A number of towns and cities have already cancelled their Christmas fairs because of coronavirus, including Bury St Edmunds which saw more than 130,000 people visit the weekend event last year.

But a spokesperson for Make It York says they are still planning for the St Nicholas Fair to go ahead and are looking at what safety measures could be put in place.

Sean Bullick, managing director of the organisation, said: “Safety is our upmost priority and whilst we are still very much going ahead with planning for St Nicholas Fair this year, a key part of this is exploring options for how we ensure the event is safe and delivered in line with Government guidance – providing lockdown restrictions are lifted.

“As we develop these plans and respond to new guidance, we’ll continue to update traders and stakeholders, including residents and the wider public with the plans for St Nicholas Fair.”

The event is due to take place from November 12 to December 23 – in Parliament Street, St Sampson Square and Coppergate.

350K visitors

Thor’s Tipi among the Parliament Street stalls

In 2018 the Christmas fair brought more than 350,000 visitors into the city, with £57 million spent in York. It was also named the Best Christmas Market in the UK.

And in 2018 62 per cent of Christmas visitors came to the city to go to the fair.

Visit York says the event is “significant” to the city and research found that 75 per cent of visitors are likely to return to the market in future years.

But there are concerns over whether it will be able to go ahead in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic – with many major events that would attract crowds already cancelled this year and social distancing guidelines in place.

Applications for stalls at the St Nicholas Fair 2020 closed on March 23 – the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown.

The application form asks stallholders if they would be able to offer a discount to York residents or students visiting the fair.

It also details the most expensive pitches – with the priciest being a large chalet in the Parliament Street zone for 17 days costing £4,114 plus VAT.

The cheapest option is a standard chalet in Coppergate for a week, costing £315 plus VAT.

Last year extra measures were put in place to manage overcrowding – including extra stewards and a different layout that aimed to ease congestion.

A spokesperson for Make It York said there will be further updates on the Christmas market in the next few months.