Lincoln is set to take a financial hit following the cancellation of this year’s Christmas Market due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With 250 stalls showcasing gifts, and a large variety of festive food and drinks, it’s an extremely important event in the calendars of businesses up and down the country. Photo: Artifactually.

The market, a cherished annual event, brings in valuable tourism and fuels a significant portion of Lincoln’s funding for the year.

Steve Willis, chief operating officer at Lincolnshire County Council said: “The market brings in around £10-12 million but you can’t put a price on people’s safety.”

The decision to cancel, made in part by Simon Colburn, assistant director for health and environmental services at City of Lincoln Council, was said to be announced after concerns were raised over the large crowds the market attracts each year.

Mr Colburn said: “The city council and I organise the markets, so we have a legal responsibility as an organisation, under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and the new coronavirus regulations, to consider people’s health and wellbeing.” 

Although the Cathedral Quarter is open again after a period of closure during lockdown, the market could worsen efforts to move on from COVID-19, meaning the council were forced to cancel the festivities in favour of public safety.

Lincoln Christmas Market is one of the top 15 Christmas markets in the country and brings in up to 250,000 visitors per year, making it one of the biggest of its kind in Europe.

With 250 stalls showcasing gifts, and a large variety of festive food and drinks, it’s an extremely important event in the calendars of businesses up and down the country.

Surrey-based brand Artifactually has been attending the market for five years, selling hand-blown glass ornaments, which also feature in luxury London department stores, such as Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.

It will be one of the many businesses affected by the cancellation of this year’s market.

Susan Calder, who owns the business, said the decision is unfortunate.

“It is important to us that the ornaments mean something to people. It is a personal product and we will miss interacting with our customers – especially our regulars who come back each year to buy a new bauble.”

Like many others, The Filthy Vegan, who held a stall at the market last year, are concerned about the effect this will have on their takeaway business.

Co-owner Joe Johnson said: “Christmas is always a busy period with more people out and about willing to spend money, so it’s definitely a big loss for us.

“Personally, I think it’s too early to be cancelling plans so far in advance. But the safety of our customers is obviously paramount so we respect the decision of the local council.”

The cancellation also came as a shock to many members of the public, who hold the tradition close to their hearts.

Shaun Clifford, 35, from Lincoln, has been going to the Christmas Market every year since he was a child. 

Mr Clifford said: “I am very disappointed the market has been cancelled, especially as it is only July. […] The council must help where they can to support the businesses at the top end of town.”

In an effort to appease disappointed buyers and sellers, the council are working to provide an online Christmas Market.

Traders from last year will have an online shop and will be able to put a link on the council’s website.

Ms Calder, from Artifactually, expressed little hope that the online experience would rival the real thing.

“My product is a visual one and, although some people will revert to online shopping, I feel some things are harder to translate online. There’s nothing like seeing them hung in the stall with all the lights up.”

There are also plans for several smaller events in the city, not in the interests of tourism, but to give those who would normally shop on the High Street, particularly at Christmas, a chance to help support the city centre’s recovery.

December is set to feel a little different this year, but the council’s decision paves the way for what it hopes is a 2021 filled with twice the Christmas spirit.

By Lucy Corbett and Shelby Dobson

News Editor at The Linc.