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City of Lincoln Council agrees to scrap popular Lincoln Christmas market

City of Lincoln Council leaders agreed to scrap the popular Lincoln Christmas Market over safety fears due to overcrowding.

The authority’s executive committee made the controversial decision last night (Monday) as council leaders warned the Lincoln Christmas market will “become unsafe” if it continues growing.

The 2022 event attracted 50,000 more visitors over four days, compared to its ideal 250,000 limit.

Lincoln Christmas market in 2018. (62554428)
Lincoln Christmas market in 2018. (62554428)

The City Council said the market became “uncomfortably” busy after a 40% increase in visitor numbers, including an “escalating cost” to putting on the four-day event, while the visitor experience was suffering due to that.

CCTV images presented to the meeting showed the busy crowds during the Saturday (third) peak day of the market, which visitors experienced for several hours.

Simon Walters, strategic director of communities and environment, said: "The 2022 Christmas market was exceptionally well-planned and executed - but we had a significant uplift in visitor numbers last year.

“The plans coped with that increase, but we were at capacity. The visitor experience did suffer and the Christmas market took a hit in terms of reputation."

Despite overall local economy benefits, the market has also been a loss for the City Council. The prediction for 2022 is an £80,000 loss.

Instead, the council wants to spread the £260,000 budget for the 40-year-old market, the oldest in the UK, across a series of Christmas in Lincoln events.

Council leader Ric Metcalfe told the meeting: “The council have not made the proposal in front of us lightly or impulsively, or without proper thought.

“We know the affection that the Christmas market is held in and how important it is.”

However, he said there is a “compelling case” to be made for changes.

“If it goes on growing at this current rate - it certainly will become unsafe,” he added.

“We need to think about the wider context of the market, in that Lincoln is a city that is a highly successful tourist and visitor attraction.

"We have a terrific base upon which to build something new by way of an alternative to our traditional Christmas market.”

More than 3,500 people signed a petition to save the market, and a public meeting last Thursday (February 16) saw 100 people gather at the Assembly Rooms.

Campaigner Rachel Whitaker met with council leader Ric Metcalfe on Friday (February 17) to discuss potential solutions.

Lincoln BIG suggested a six-week ‘Christmas in Lincoln’ period which would include events both uphill and in the town centre.

As part of their decision, the councillors voted specifically to consult widely on the new events plan before they were confirmed.

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