Cooking demonstrations, live music and festive buys enticed even more visitors to this year’s Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre.
The popular four-day event got underway at 2pm on Thursday, two hours earlier than in previous years, and is thought to have pulled in around 125,000 people.
Hundreds of stalls, seasonal food and drink treats, funfair rides, non-stop entertainment across three stages, Santa’s grotto and an impressive opening night fireworks display all added to the celebratory atmosphere.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of the town’s business improvement district (BID) Ourburystedmunds, said the BID’s footfall counter in Abbeygate Street was activated a total of 177,000 times during the course of the fayre.
Compared to last year, this was an overall increase of seven per cent over the full four days, with Sunday showing the biggest increase at 12 per cent and Saturday being the busiest, accounting for around a third of visitors.
Mr Cordell said the inclusion of Langton Place and St John’s Street for the first time ‘worked very well’ for the businesses there and from a safety point view by spreading people further afield, while the new Infusions Cookery Theatre in St Edmundsbury Cathedral’s courtyard proved very popular.
“It’s been, overwhelmingly, very well received and is a great opportunity to showcase the town to all these visitors who will hopefully come back next year,” he said.
“In terms of traffic management, I think the council did a cracking job. It created, over the weekend, nearly an additional 1,000 parking spaces and was providing regular updates on Twitter about car park availability, which, at peak times, around lunchtime, were all full,” he added.
Sharon Fairweather, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s tourism officer, said: “We were lucky with the weather and it was nice to have some different things happen throughout the town, and great to get the whole town involved, including St John’s Street. It was a good way to showcase the individual shops down there which looked lovely – they really did make an effort.”
“On the whole, the feedback we’ve had is that the town ran as smoothly as possible for a large event,” she added.