After much anticipation and planning, this weekend saw the first German-themed Windermere Christmas Market and community Christmas celebration take place on High Street and Victoria Street in the town.
Large crowds gathered to enjoy the market’s stalls, live entertainment, artisan produce, street food and drink, and festive spirit – and to meet Father Christmas himself of course, in his own Windermere Ja Christmas Grotto!
An idea first raised several years ago, and an event that businesses have been calling for for some time in the town, the market was organised by a team of people including Windermere Tourist Information, Ben Berry, Made in Cumbria and Mountain Goat Tours. On the Saturday, the market was officially opened with a ribbon being cut by Councillor Berry, who was joined by town mayor Leith Hallatsch and event director Kate Barton. The opening was also attended by local radio station, Lakeland Radio.
Although High Street and Victoria Street normally form part of Windermere’s one-way traffic system, both were closed for the two-day event, with a temporary diversion put in place for vehicle access to Booths Supermarket.
Stall holders lined both streets with a variety of offerings, with around forty taking part in all. For some, it was an opportunity to take their first step towards starting a small business in the area, and the very first time they had displayed their products for shoppers to buy. Many established businesses from the Windermere area were keen to exhibit in order to meet new customers and raise their profile, while for other food producers and craftspeople from Cumbria and beyond, the market was an exciting new addition to the local events calendar.
Many families were content to form long queues in order to try the traditional hot snacks and speciality street foods on offer, while local musicians including Burneside Brass Band, the Salvation Army, and carol singers from the Windermere and Bowness Community Choir, took turns around the town to bring musical cheer to the festivities. And if you didn’t know how to make Bread and Butter Pudding before visiting the market, the McClure’s kitchen demonstration tent was definitely the place to be!
Businesses around Windermere entered into the spirit of the event, offering a warm welcome to visitors, and seeing a substantial increase in trade during the course of the weekend. To encourage as many people as possible to access the market from surrounding areas, Mountain Goat provided a shuttle bus service to meet Windermere Lakes Cruises in Bowness. Closing at 5pm on the Saturday, the market remained busy at dusk, with the celebratory atmosphere continuing into the evening.
The reception from locals and visitors alike was extremely positive, and from conversations with those taking a stroll around the market over the weekend, it is clear that there is a huge appetite for another event next year. An economic survey has been carried out to assess the benefits to local businesses in the community and details will be published once formalised with early signs very positive indeed.