Campaigner tells council that Lincoln Christmas Market needs ‘innovation not execution’ – Lincolnshire Live

A businesswoman has told the council that a wider conversation is needed as Lincoln Christmas Market faces the axe. The City of Lincoln Council is looking the replace the four-day event in uphill Lincoln with city-wide ‘Christmas in Lincoln’ celebrations over the six week countdown to Christmas, plus year-round events.

The authority wants to improve the visitor experience following a record 320,000 visitors to the December 2023 event, negative feedback and safety fears if even more people came to future markets. Rachel Whitaker, 36, who is campaigning to save the market, said had “very positive” talks with council leader Ric Metcalfe and director of communities and environment Simon Walters on Friday, February 18.

Miss Whitaker, who runs Rachel London Photography, in Burton Road, which specialises in weddings and lifestyle pictures, told Lincolnshire Live: “The meeting was really positive. There were both really open to hearing what I had to say. The market has got way too big for the area it is held in but I said to them: ‘You need innovation not execution.’.”

Miss Whitaker, who faces annual disruption to her business and home life during the market, said she asked Cllr Metcalfe and Mr Walters to open up the conversation about the market to traders, businesses and residents. She believes replacing the event with ‘Christmas in Lincoln’ over six weeks would not have the same appeal as a four-day market.

Miss Whitaker said: “Christmas in Lincoln’ over a six-week period means Lincoln would be just another city in the UK where the shop windows are dressed for Christmas. People are not going to travel here from Leeds or Sheffield for a similar event to what they have in their own cities.

“By having Lincoln Christmas Market over four days, it’s a short and sharp event. It’s unique and quaint.” Miss Whitaker suggested during the meeting that the market is held in separate zones across the city, including Lincoln Castle, Lincoln Cathedral, Westgate car park and the Dean’s Green uphill.

Other zones could be set up in the High Street, St Mark’s, the Cornhill and as far as the Southside venue in St Catherines. Miss Whitaker said: “20mph speed limits could be introduced on the streets in between the zones. You could still have the market but people would still be able to get around.

“Just like at the Edinburgh Fringe, they don’t shut the whole city down.” Miss Whitaker added: “300,000 visitors is a captive audience. It would be an idea to put up signs telling people to visit again for the Sausage Festival or Steampunk Festival. Hotels could offer discounts on future bookings booked by people visiting the market.”

Picture shows Lincoln Castle during Christmas Market 2022

Cllr Metcalfe said after the meeting with Miss Whitaker: “We welcomed the opportunity earlier today to speak to representatives of our stakeholders and businesses. This was a constructive conversation in which we made it clear we can no longer provide an event which attracts 320,000 people to a small, confined area of the city over a four-day period.

“However, what we propose to do is evolve it into a programme of events which offer residents and visitors a much better experience and provides an economic benefit to businesses.” The council’s executive meets on February 20 to discuss the proposal to scrap the Christmas market and develop year-round events.