THOUSANDS of visitors could be flocking to Knutsford this winter thanks to a new six-week Christmas Market.
Wilmslow-based Living World Events has joined forces with The Tatton Estate to create ‘Mistletoe Markets Knutsford’.
The market, proposed to operate from November 14 to December 23, would see 100 traditional wooden chalets erected on Little Heath, selling a variety of produce and wares, a central bar, Santa’s Grotto with a lapland style tepee and Christmas Tree Forest.
Representatives from Living World Events and The Tatton Estate presented the proposals to Knutsford Town Council’s Events Committee on Monday, March 3.
Speaking at last night’s meeting, Jemma Gilmartin, Living World Events’ Managing Director, said: “We felt that Cheshire was missing some Christmas spirit and at that time of year, you find yourself driving to Manchester or Chester for Christmas-related events.
“We want to create a magical feeling around the town, create a buzz around Knutsford’s town centre, and really make sure everybody is benefitting from it.”
Henry Brooks, from The Tatton Estate, owner of the Heath, spoke with great enthusiasm about the proposed market.
“I am delighted that Living World are prepared to take a risk on our town and take a big step to increase footfall into Knutsford,” he said.
“The fact that we are talking about this now, in March, shows how much organising and consultation we are doing. The whole point is to engage and get feedback so that it’s really thought through with residents, traders and the town council in mind.”
The Big Heath would be used for parking for the market’s duration and the market would be open from 12pm to 8pm from Monday to Thursday, 10am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10am to 6pm on Sundays.
The organisers would donate a chalet for charity use and weekly community events would take place such as fancy dress, drama club performances and a fashion show.
Business raises concern over market plans
A KNUTSFORD trader told the meeting that she was concerned about the threat the event may have on her and other town centre businesses.
Julia Chard, owner of Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe, was present at the meeting and voiced her concerns about the threat of competition for existing businesses.
She said: “It’s brilliant things coming into Knutsford and we embrace everything that comes into the town. However, I can’t afford to staff my shop and also staff a chalet at the market, and also can’t afford to have traders coming in selling the same product.
“My biggest concern is that I will be shutting the door at the end of the year and not opening it again.”
Henry Brooks addressed Julia’s concern and said the whole idea was to bring more people into the town, ‘not cannibalise’ existing trade and that the markets would be a leisure activity as much as a retail activity.
Members, although in general ‘wholeheartedly supported’ to the proposals, also expressed concerns, principally the increase in traffic, the threat of competition for existing traders and the proximity of the market to neighbouring houses.
Some suggestions were given, such as working directly with current traders and residents and encouraging visitors into the town by collaborating with train companies.
Living World Events and The Tatton Estate will be holding a ‘Mistletoe Markets Knutsford’ open evening for the public on March 27 at The Old Town Hall on Princess Street from 6pm to 8pm.
“There is lots of planning and preparation to go into this, but we felt the sooner we get people behind this and the input of the community the better,” Jemma added.
WHAT do you think of the plans? Do you think it would benefit the town or hinder trade? Comment below.