The festive spirit prevailed at Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre after organisers were nearly forced to cut the renowned event short due to poor weather.
Bosses delayed opening the Abbey Gardens for about an hour on Sunday as early morning gusts of up to 50 to 60 miles an hour hit the town.
Event organiser Sharon Fairweather said: “We would probably have cancelled the whole fayre if those winds had carried on because we wouldn’t have been able to guarantee safety.
“It was difficult to know which way it was going to go because of the trees in the Abbey Gardens so we decided to delay the opening to see if it settled down, which luckily it did.
“The sun came out and we had a brilliant afternoon with lots of people.”
Despite the close call, an estimated 100,000 people descended on the town for the ever popular three day flurry of festivities.
Crowds flocked to hotspots including Angel Hill, Hatter Street, Charter Square, the Athenaeum and The Apex for the usual feast of the senses at the fayre’s 300 stalls.
Entertainment was in full flow with music from the Greene King stage, street artists, carol services at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, a living nativity and Santa in his grotto in the Abbey Gardens.
Ms Fairweather said attendance was about the same as last year and the event continues to be a draw for people across the country.
She said: “People stay for the weekend with coaches from all over. They also come for the day as far as Nottingham and Birmingham.”
The temperamental weather did not dampen the traders’ spirits either.
Ms Fairweather said: “A few traders did pack up Saturday evening or Sunday morning because it was so windy. It was no more than three or four.”
When asked about the traffic, she said: “The car parks coped very well, the park and rides worked well and we had extra parking at Greene King.”
About 80 stewards were taken on for the fayre and 50 college students as well as volunteers from the Rotary Club and Round Table provided support
Mark Cordell, chief executive of town centre improvement organisation Bid4Bury, said there had been ‘considerable economic benefits to large numbers of businesses’.
He said: “In the arc some store takings were considerably up on a normal weekend. For our food and drink establishments it appears it has been very successful.”