THE Christmas Markets are a huge attraction for Skipton and form part of the town’s unique festive offerings.
With the extended Christmas Lights Switch On event combining with the Santa Run, they make up a package that brings tens of thousands of visitors into the town over Christmas.
And the Skipton BID plays a very significant part in supporting both these prestigious events, ensuring they get the backing they need.
The Christmas Lights are put on in partnership with Skipton Town Council, and BID manager Geraldine Thompson warns that their scale would have to be dramatically reduced if there was no BID funding.
And Kerry Wheelwright, Events and Tourism Manager withSkipton Town Council agreed, stressing that they would not simply be able to find the extra money if the BID was lost.
The lights have over the period of the BID been extended from just the High Street to many other streets across the town centre.
Geraldine says: “Our impressive lighting display receives hundreds of positive comments each year.
“We fund them in partnership with Skipton Town Council and that partnership has allowed the scheme to be extended away from just the High Street and into many other streets across the town centre.”
The BID has teamed up with the Town Council’s events management team to organise the town’s biggest lights switch on event ever this Sunday (full story on page ??).
And it also played a significant role in linking the event with the Skipton Santa Fun Run this year, allowing that event to start from the town centre and generating even more footfall for the town centre.
Sunday marks the start of three very important weekends of festive celebrations in Skipton, which proved a huge footfall for the town.
The Christmas Markets, now firmly entrenched in the top ten UK Christmas Markets, take place this year on Sunday 2 and Sunday 9 December.
Footfall counters show the markets, with seasonal live entertainment, funfair rides, festive food and drink, and other entertainment alongside the stalls, bring in 20,000 visitors – almost three times that of a normal Sunday, said Geraldine.
She stressed that both the lights and the Christmas Markets would be affected if the BID wasn’t there to support them.
“We have a fantastic display of Christmas lights which the Town Council do a great job of putting up,” Geraldine said.
“Shoppers and visitors are always impressed by the lights.
“But without the BID funding, the town would be back to a Christmas Tree outside the Town Hall and a few lights on the High Street.
“That is what used to be there, and BID money has enabled us to expand and improve the display.
“There is no other organisation that will be able to come along and replace that funding.”
She said BID money also made a big difference to the special attraction and character of the Christmas Markets.
“The thousands we provide for the markets allow them to close the High Street, and if we weren’t there, this funding wouldn’t be there either,” she said.
“The Christmas markets would probably continue, but unless they could find sponsorship to replace the funding we provided, they wouldn’t be much different to a normal market day.
“It would almost certainly lose the very special identity it has.
“Our markets are always in the top ten of Christmas Markets, and have won awards – last year, it was named as the ‘Best Large Speciality Market’ in the Great British Market Awards.
“Last year, we had 139 booked coaches for our special town ambassador service alone, and that again is a by-product of the BID as we fund the ambassadors.”
She said the three events undoubtedly gave traders in the town a huge boost before Christmas and the more difficult trading months after the festivities have ended.
Kerry said: “The Town Council doesn’t have the financial resources to replace the BID money.
“The town would have some lights and a Christmas Tree, but nothing like the fantastic display we are able to put on now.
“The same applies to the Christmas Markets. The Town Council wouldn’t have the money to provide any extra support, and it’s very unlikely the district council would either.
“That would undoubtedly mean they would not be as spectacular.”