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Video - Take a walk through Stratford's Christmas market





STRATFORD’S Victorian Christmas Market filled the streets with people for three days but was cancelled on its final day because of snow and ice.

The decision to shut down trade on Sunday (11th December) caused anger among many visitors who travelled from near and far to sample one of the largest Christmas markets in the country.

For many Christmas lovers, the prospect of a Victorian market in snow-lined streets was idyllic, but for council chiefs and market organisers it was a health and safety issue and a risk too far.

It wasn’t the only seasonal headache for Stratford’s civic leaders as traffic congestion filled the roads around the centre of town, with one-and-a-half-hour delays reported by drivers stuck in queues.

This was despite reassurance last year that traffic management would be improved for 2022.

Stall holder Anne Butcher was pictured keeping warm at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276380)
Stall holder Anne Butcher was pictured keeping warm at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276380)

Last year Stratford District Council said: “Because it is a free town centre event it is very difficult to estimate the number of visitors; however, in light of the visitor numbers the councils will look at what additional measures can be taken to manage traffic flow and parking in and around the town ahead of next year’s event,” they said.

But what lessons were learned? Ambulances and emergency services struggled to steer a clear path through stop-start traffic and, for many residents, it was quicker – and less stressful – to walk into town. Banbury Road, Warwick Road and Shipston Road ground to a halt while exhaust fumes filled the air, even on Sunday as people arrived in town to find the market traders were packing up.

However, on the three days the market was open, the town was packed with shoppers eager to get Christmas presents, sample the many food stalls and get some Christmas entertainment.

This week Stratford District Council issued a statement to explain the decision to end the market a day early.

There was a festive cheers from stall holders Richard Reynolds and Annie O’Dell of Barbourne Cider at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276356)
There was a festive cheers from stall holders Richard Reynolds and Annie O’Dell of Barbourne Cider at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276356)

It said: “The Stratford-upon-Avon Victorian Christmas Market was again hugely successful attracting a significant number of visitors to the town

“An enhanced traffic management plan was put in place for this year’s event, which included making use of the Stratford Park and Ride in Bishopton. As a result of this, access to and from the town centre car parks was reported as being much quicker than in previous years. We will continue to look to improve traffic management but are limited by the constraints of the existing road network.

“At around 6.30am on Sunday, heavy snow began to fall in the town centre which was not forecast. In accordance with the event management plan, a walkaround of the event footprint was carried out at 7.30am. Senior representatives of the event security contractor, Stratford District Council, Stratford Town Council and the markets operator, LSD Promotions Ltd, made the joint decision to cancel the event at around 8am on health and safety grounds.

All things festive at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276378)
All things festive at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276378)

“LSD Promotions Ltd informed the traders of the decision and SDC updated all forms of social media and other media outlets.

“SDC’s parking staff were deployed to the main car parks to inform visitors that the event was cancelled. Warwickshire Police were asking motorists in the Stratford area to avoid travel unless it was imperative. There were reports of several road traffic collisions on the main roads leading into town, including one involving three cars at once.

“It is too early to comment on the impact of the Victorian Christmas Market on shops and businesses, however, the general feedback has been very positive.”

The extra footfall on Sunday would still have been positive for many town centre businesses, but there were still questions about whether the cancellation of the market was the correct decision.

Stratford Girls Chamber Choir sang carols from the stage at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276365)
Stratford Girls Chamber Choir sang carols from the stage at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276365)

Stratford resident James Charlett told the Herald: “The Christmas market looked like a great success and the town was heaving, which was great.

“We went to visit friends on Saturday and at 11.45am the traffic was backed up past the Mercedes garage – there was a 1.5-hour queue to get into town.

“The market closure was an absolute disgrace. We walked through town at 11am [on Sunday] and it was heaving. Despite the snow, the roads were clear, it was perfectly safe.

Santa was on hand to wish shoppers a happy Christmas at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276366)
Santa was on hand to wish shoppers a happy Christmas at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276366)

“I spoke with one of the traders who was almost in tears. She said traders hadn’t been consulted and they were all set up when the decision was made. The town was probably busier than Saturday. There was no health and safety issue as all other shops, including the Maybird and all restaurants, were open.”

It was not the first time the Victorian market has been called off because of the weather. The third and final day – a Sunday – of the first ever market in 2017 was cancelled because snow was forecast the night before.

Jamie Such and her daughter Paige Such kept Christmas shoppers well fed on their carvery at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276367)
Jamie Such and her daughter Paige Such kept Christmas shoppers well fed on their carvery at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276367)
Festive stilt walkers Steve Kaos and Jem Watts entertained visitors to the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276355)
Festive stilt walkers Steve Kaos and Jem Watts entertained visitors to the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276355)
The meryy-go-round was a popular attraction at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276360)
The meryy-go-round was a popular attraction at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276360)
A packed Bridge street at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276377)
A packed Bridge street at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61276377)


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