Thursday, 24 August 2017

Christmas festival to stay put

THIS year’s Henley Christmas Festival will take place on Friday, December 1.

The town council, which organises the annual event, had considered moving it to during following day but abandoned the idea after asking businesses and residents for feedback.

Retailers said that closing streets in the town centre on a weekend would have a negative impact on footfall while shoppers said they didn’t want to break with the tradition of having the festival on a Friday evening.

This year all the stalls in Market Place will be selling Christmas-themed goods while the charities and community groups that usually occupy that space will be moved to Duke Street and Bell Street.

It’s hoped that the market will set up on the morning and run throughout the day.

Santa’s grotto, which is usually at King’s Arms Barn could instead be open during Henley’s festive shopping event on Sunday, December 10 as attendance was poor at last year’s festival.

The Mayor’s Santa fun run, which normally takes place on the Sunday after the festival, could also be moved to coincide with the shopping day.

Paula Price-Davies, the town council’s events co-ordinator, said: “It made sense to have them on the same day as there was a sense that the town is still ‘hung over’ from the festival on the Friday night.”

Laurence Morris, the owner of Laurence Menswear in Duke Street, was one of the traders who opposed changing the date.

In a letter to the Henley Standard last month, he said it was “totally ridiculous” as the main benefit of the festival was to give businesses a couple of extra trading hours, which would be lost.

He said: “I’m very glad that the council has taken this decision. Common sense has prevailed.”

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