City-wide festival to replace Christmas market

The Galway Continental Christmas Market, which has become one of the most popular seasonal events in the country, is set to undergo a significant expansion and will be renamed ‘Christmas in Galway’ for the 2015 festive season.

Galway City Business Association, which has presented the event each year since is was created in 2010, made the announcement at the Galway City Council meeting on Monday.

Set to become the largest festive event in Ireland, Eyre Square will remain the heart of the Galway Christmas Festival, with the event expanding to include various venues throughout the city for an all-encompassing celebration.

The Eyre Square Centre is set to host a Christmas Wonderland, the Spanish Arch will be home to vintage carousels and amusements, Christmas on ice will reside at the Galway Harbour, Christmas pantomimes will be performed at the Town Hall Theatre, literary trails as part of Galway 2020 will take place at the Galway City Library and in Lombard Street, and it is hoped that in Woodquay there will be craft and artisan markets.

Since 2010 the event has yielded an economic impact in excess of €16 million annually for the city and has significantly increase footfall for traders, in what is typically a quiet retail period. It has also extended the festival season in Galway, adding a major event to the calendar over the winter months.

Speaking of the announcement GCBA chairperson Aine Feeney said: "After five successful years, the GCBA believe it’s time to build on the accomplishments of the Christmas market and become an event for the entire city of Galway to embrace.

"We are confident it will deliver viable financial return for all involved, along with increasing visitor numbers and creating a real magical festive vibe throughout our medieval city.” Taking feedback and previous issues into consideration, the GCBA is committed to reducing the damage caused by the market to the grass in Eyre Square while growing the festival experience.

"Quality in relation to traders, entertainment, and ambience is also at the forefront of our focus, ensuring it’s an event with variety that conveys the sights, sounds, and festive charm of traditional Christmas markets throughout Europe, for both Galwegians and visitors alike."

More craft stalls

Councillor Declan McDonald praised the market for its contribution to Galway, but said he would not like to see it pulled entirely towards the Latin Quarter.

"Eyre Square businesses need to be kept involved. They have been incredibly supportive of the market over the last few years. I also think there were too many food stalls in previous years. We need more craft stalls involved this year," he said.

Councillor Michael Crowe commended all those involved in the planning of the market, noting that the people dedicating their time were volunteers with other jobs and responsibilities. He praised the market for the revenue it brings to Galway city on a yearly basis, and told Ms Feeney that she could count on the support of the council in this year's planning.

Sinn Féin's Mairead Farrell was delighted to hear the market was being spread throughout the city.

However,having spoken to local trades people, she said the costs of having a stall, paying for electricity, and hiring staff meant many businesses simply could not afford to take part despite wanting to.

Councillor Padraig Conneely first voiced his support for the Christmas market. However, he also raised a number of concerns regarding several aspects of its set-up that caused problems last year.

He was heavily critical of the team that managed last year's market, claiming there was "issue after issue, day after day," and that the situation resorted to "crisis management" at times as things continued to go wrong.

Conneely also condemned the participation of Liddle in last year's festivities. Last year the council passed a motion which prohibited multi national companies from using Eye Square. Conneely said that there were as many as 11 Liddle stands at last year's event that had no business being there.

This year’s market is scheduled to take place from Friday November 20 until Tuesday December 22. For further information visit ‘Galway City Business Association’ on Facebook or follow ‘GalwayCBA’ on Twitter.

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