Nottingham City Council has given the go-ahead for a Christmas Market and festive attractions in the city centre this year.

Organisers have revised the usual arrangements to ensure people can come to the city centre and choose from a wide range of festive treats and experiences, and above all, enjoy themselves safely.

The new-look event follows advice from the Safety Advisory Group for Events (SAGe) which preferred a dispersed offer using spaces across the city centre rather than all attractions being sited in Old Market Square as usual. A range of seasonal activities will therefore be spread across the Old Market Square, Smithy Row, Long Row, and Trinity Square. The number of market stalls has been scaled back, and spaces around them increased to improve circulation.

Big Wheel (Image from 2019)

Old Market Square will remain the focal point for the city’s Christmas events. The city’s traditional 60ft high Norway Spruce Christmas tree, lit with 4,000 twinkling bulbs, will take centre stage in front of the Council House, which will be adorned by a snowflake-inspired lighting display. A giant observation wheel will whisk visitors 33m up into the air, with stunning views over the city’s rooftops. For those who prefer to stay closer to ground level, a traditional carousel will also light up the square.

A new Après Ski themed pop-up bar will also be located on Old Market Square, while the traditional Helter Skelter bar will return to Smithy Row offering visitors a steaming mug of Glühwein as riders slide down the traditional fairground favourite from above.

Helter Skelter Bar (Image from 2019)

Traditional chalet-style market stalls will be trading along Long Row and Smithy Row offering a chance for some alternative Christmas shopping with a choice of gifts, crafts, and speciality food.

The festive events will also spread this year to Trinity Square, where a specially-constructed Christmas Village with a number of food and drink options will see visitors entering via a Christmas Tree-lined entrance leading to a winter-themed setting that features a number of igloo-style glass domes.

Igloo domes like these will be sited in Trinity Square

Plans for a further dispersed Winter Wonderland offer that would have seen popular elements of the event such as ice skating, the Ice Bar and Sur la Piste bars re-located to other areas of the city centre, were considered by the event organisers Mellors Group but unfortunately, this has not proved possible.

The reduced-scale alternative offer for 2021 is designed to complement the vibrant city centre offer of retail, bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Other Christmas events are expected to be announced in due course.

Nottingham’s Christmas celebrations will begin as the lights across the city are switched on and attractions open on Monday 15 November and will run until Friday 31 December.

Christmas tree and lights on Council House from 2020

Some of the city’s larger events; such as Goose Fair attract some 450,000 people over five days and Riverside Festival, 220,000 people, over three days. These have not taken place in 2021 because of their scale, individual characteristics, and nature of each event. However, a range of smaller events with capacities of up to 15,000 have been successfully and safely staged since May in the city.

It is estimated the average number of daily visitors to the Christmas event will be close to this 15,000 level rather than the much larger numbers associated with Goose Fair and the Riverside Festival.

Each event is assessed on its own merits and some of the key considerations for the Christmas event going ahead included:

  • Fewer attractions dispersed over wider parts of the city centre allowing easier circulation
  • Relatively low expected daily visitor numbers across a longer time-frame
  • Multiple travel options and ways to enter and leave the main sites
  • Prevailing conditions meaning other businesses and hospitality venues will also be open in the City Centre

Cllr Eunice Campbell Clark, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture, and Schools said: “We are really pleased that we have been able to come up with a high-quality programme of Christmas events and attractions dispersed around the city centre. In planning for this event, we have been mindful of the issues at last year’s event and we acknowledge it’s important to maintain a balance of keeping people safe and urging caution but also allowing people to enjoy the seasonal festivities. Our event plans for Christmas 2021 allow for any amendments or adjustments that may be needed due to any future changes in Government advice or legislation.”

A spokesperson from Mellors Group said: “We’re pleased to be bringing a Christmas experience to the heart of Nottingham once again. While we are of course disappointed not to be able to bring the entire Winter Wonderland experience to Nottingham this year, the reduced-scale and dispersed offer of events and attractions across the city centre will still ensure that Nottingham remains one of the best seasonal destinations for visitors this Christmas.”

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