Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre: What is on, when to come and where to park
The independent businesses, historic town centre and the people of Bury St Edmunds are coming together next weekend for the town’s biggest annual event.
More than 300 stalls and thousands of visitors are expected to be seen around the town centre for the Christmas Fayre, which runs from Thursday, November 21, to Sunday, November 24.
“The fayre provides a taster of beautiful Bury St Edmunds to thousands of visitors,” said John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council – one of the event’s organisers.
“It brings people together at Christmas and also brings a year-round boost to the local economy, as people come and then want to come back.
Stallholders are a mixture of local sellers and traders coming in from further afield. The stalls will be scattered around Buttermarket, Angel Hill, the Abbey Gardens, the Cathedral Courtyard and off Abbeygate Street.
These will be selling a wide variety of products, that could be Christmas gift ideas, and also street food and drink.
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Peter Allingham, an owner of Archangel Distillery, is happy to make the trip to Bury St Edmunds from where the business is based in Fakenham.
“It is our favourite event of the year,” he said.
“Last year was our first and we had a lovely time, we dressed up in Victorian costume – really going for it!
“The atmosphere was terrific and it was all very well organised. Considering how huge it is, that is a great achievement. We go to fairs all over the country and sometimes it can be chaotic. It is important for us as we branch out as a business. We are well known in Norfolk, but we are getting better known in Suffolk.
“We are definitely dressing up again! And we will be launching our new gin Navy Strength, which is a rather poky 58 per cent. The first one is delicious, but you may not want two… or maybe you will!”
This year the St Edmundsbury Cathedral courtyard will host the ICE Cookery Theatre, where demonstrations will be held throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday – featuring chefs from a number of local restaurants and pubs.
As well as boosting the stallholders, and providing an unrivalled opportunity for exposure, the fayre also provides a positive knock-on effect for town centre shops.
René van den Oort, owner of Beautiful Beers in St John’s Street, said: “It is one of the biggest in the UK, I’ve seen it written about in national papers, and people will want to travel in for it.
“Visitors are starting to realise that they do not need to go abroad to Munich or Berlin to visit a quality Christmas market. They can experience something in their own country.”
“Considering the uncertainty caused by the current financial and political climate, events like this can be a huge benefit to the town,” he continued.
“There are a huge number of people coming into Bury St Edmunds looking for gifts and food.
“St John’s Street will be closed this year, which means retailers can take things outside the shop and we are hoping to do a gin tasting. Hopefully the weather will allow!”
Managers of other attractions in Bury St Edmunds also see the potential in the Christmas Fayre to boost footfall.
St Mary’s Church will be open for refreshments and attractions on the Friday and Saturday from 9am to 5pm. Elsewhere, St Edmundsbury Cathedral is holding a gift fayre, Moyse’s Hall Museum is continuing its May the Toys Be With You exhibition, while The Athenaeum is selling gifts, fine art, jewellery and
Look out as well for reindeer on display.
Planning the Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre is one of the greatest annual logistical challenges facing West Suffolk Council.
Angel Hill and Hatter Street will be closed to traffic for much of the weekend with diversions and parking restrictions in place. To help accommodate this, a park and ride service will be operating. There will also be car parking at Olding Road, which is a 15 minute walk from town.
Public transport use is also encouraged, with family saver tickets available for anyone arriving in town by train.
In-line with previous years, there will also be an armed police presence in town throughout the duration of the fayre.
Matt Paisley, locality inspector for Bury St Edmunds, said: “As we did last year we will have uniformed, plain clothed patrols and police dogs on site.
“We will be deploying a range of highly skilled and specially trained officers who will be working close with security staff to keep
an eye on the site to maintain a crime-free event.
“We also ask you the public to remember you also have key role to play in help keeping yourself and the event safe.
“If you see anything unusual, trust your instincts and immediately call security on 01284 758008 or 01284 758009, the police on 101 or 999 depending on urgency.”
For full details and the complete programme, visit: www.burystedmundschristmasfayre.co.uk
More by this authorWilliam Mata