Crowds turn out as stallholders bring festive cheer back to Swindon town centre

Swindon Advertiser: Reining in the reindeer at the launch of the Christmas market in Canal Walk are, left to right, Daniel Bunting, Jane Stewart, David Renard, Paul Booth, Rebecca Rowlnd, Ian Larrard, Brian Morris, Angela Overton - Benge and Emma Owen Buy this photo » Reining in the reindeer at the launch of the Christmas market in Canal Walk are, left to right, Daniel Bunting, Jane Stewart, David Renard, Paul Booth, Rebecca Rowlnd, Ian Larrard, Brian Morris, Angela Overton - Benge and Emma Owen

THE TOWN Centre launched itself into the festive spirit yesterday when the Christmas Market returned to the town.

Canal Walk was littered with stalls and kiosks full of Christmas goods, from mulled wine to roasted chestnuts to Christmas trees and an appearance from Father Christmas.

The reindeer were among the biggest attractions, as was the stalls where shoppers could pick up a traditional German sausage.

There was also a honey-tasting stall, kiosks packed with arts, crafts, jewellery and stocking fillers, and during the afternoon pupils from Lainesmead School took part in a number of activities put on by InSwindon, who organised the market.

It is hoped that the market of 14 stalls, which will run for 17 days until December 22, will be ideal for helping Swindon to increase footfall during the festive period.

Rebecca Rowland, InSwindon manager, said: “It was a very exciting day and a busy one.

“It’s been fantastic, lots of people came to the launch and are interested in the Christmas market.”

The market’s opening hours will reflect normal trading hours, and last night opened late like many of the shops in the town centre.

It is expected to last until 6pm most evenings.

InSwindon say that the prospect of the market returning in future years depends on the success of this year’s event, and are encouraging shoppers to support the traders who have come to the town.

Rebecca said: “There’s been a lot of hard work put in and it really relies on the support of the shoppers otherwise the traders might not want to come back for 2014.

“So far it’s gone really well and there has been a lot of interest.”

Last year’s market was cancelled following issues over where stallholders could trade.

But earlier this year a number of places where markets could be held were approved by the council after a public consultation.

Preparations for the market only began in September so it has taken a huge effort to put everything in place so quickly.

Stalls are also expected to complement rather than directly compete with other businesses.

Rebecca said: “We have had to make sure the markets enhance the town centre and do not take away trade from other businesses in the area. The stallholders have had a strict criteria to go by but we are pleased with what we have.

“We have tried to use local traders as much as possible to help the local economy.”

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