Sun shines on plans for Christmas

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THE WEATHER outside is more ice cream than ice cold, but already councillors are talking about Christmas.

We may only just be into June, but while many of us have been soaking up the sunshine in Bury St Edmunds, members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council have been discussing how to make the annual Christmas Fayre even bigger and better..

An estimated 100,000 people attended the three-day fayre last year, bringing an additional £1.6 million into the local ecomomy.

It was the largest Christmas Fayre since the event was started in 2004, with 200 coachloads of visitors coming from as far afield as Scarborough in North Yorkshire.

The council’s cabinet backed a number of changes at a meeting last Wednesday.

“It has a huge economic impact on businesses and the local area; spread throughout the town, the local community should continue to be a great part of its success,” said a report to the cabinet.

Top of its Christmas wish list is additional park and ride car parking, which it says needs to be found ‘as a matter of urgency’.

It is also looking to spread the fayre out from Angel Hill and Abbeygate Street into the rest of the town to alleviate pedestrian congestion, while an additional market may also be held on the Friday.

Tourism manager Sharon Fairweather said: “The fayre is very popular and we have had visitors from Yorkshire, the Midlands, London, Essex. The fayre has grown a reputation as marking the start of Christmas. It provides entertainment and a good old welcome from Bury St Edmunds.

“We were blessed with good weather last year and it was our busiest by far. We do need to get people walking around the whole of the town centre and there are plans for improved park and ride facilities as well this year.

“There isn’t a day goes by without us mentioning Christmas in some way or another. At the moment we are taking bookings from stallholders. We are heavily over-subscribed so we are making sure that there is a good mix. It is our biggest event of the year.”

This year’s fayre will take place from November 23-25 and will feature an array of entertainment and music.

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