Coronavirus puts paid to Cheltenham’s Christmas Market but town will sparkle with new Christmas Lights

Thursday September 17, 2020

A new expanded Christmas Market planned for Cheltenham this year has been cancelled because of the Coronavirus epidemic.

Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) made the decision in consultation with Gloucestershire Public Health and the town’s Safety Advisory Group.

The BID will ensure that Christmas is special this year by providing completely new Christmas lights across the town centre, supported by Cheltenham Borough Council. It also plans to put on a range of family activities and continue to work with businesses to make Christmas as special as possible.

As well as the sparkle during the darker hours, the new Christmas lights will bring a gleam during the day.  Golden baubles will hang from the trees on the pedestrianised Promenade and gold powder-coated holly, reindeer, stars and harps will adorn the lampposts in other streets.  A new Christmas tree will be installed at the Montpellier roundabout.

The BID has taken over responsibility for the markets from the borough council for the first time this year and had appointed two new operators, with plans to expand from the pedestrianised Promenade all the way up to Imperial Gardens.

Following the Government’s announcement on ‘the rule of six’ was made on September 9, it was clear that it would not be safe to run a market of any kind this year.

Alex Rose, Chairman of the BID, said: “The decision to cancel was a hard one.  We looked at several alternative plans which would enable us to bring the extended markets to town, but the public’s health must come first.

“The board and BID team are working flat out to try and support business during this challenging time and ask the public to continue to support their local businesses by shopping and eating locally.”

Cities like Birmingham, Gloucester and Bath have all cancelled their Christmas markets amid concerns over the upsurge in the number of people contracting Coronavirus nationally. 

Jess Goodwin, Event Manager for the BID and Marketing Cheltenham said: “With nearby places like Worcester also cancelling their markets, Cheltenham would have been the only town in the South West and Midlands still running a market, attracting large crowds from neighbouring regions, which could affect the level of infection within the local area and we want to do what is necessary to avoid this.”

Market Place, who would have been running a new section of the market by Imperial Gardens and 131 The Promenade had a wide array of traders, including some local businesses, lined up. Managing Director Allan Hartwell, said: “It is disappointing that the current situation has prevented us from bringing this exciting new addition to Cheltenham this year, but it is of paramount importance that we keep everyone safe.”

The BID will now continue to work to ensure that Cheltenham is a safe place to come and enjoy Christmas shopping.

Belinda Hunt, BID Operations Manager, said: “The festive cheer will still be a big part of the Christmas shopping experience in Cheltenham, with the new Christmas lights this year and we are exploring other activities for families to enjoy.”