The organisers of Durham Christmas Festival have reported that their 21st festival in 2014 was a huge success, giving the city its busiest retail weekend of the year.

The Festival, which took part over three days from Friday 5th December, had more than 300 small businesses represented – and was ideally timed to coincide with the national Small Business Saturday campaign.  The Craft and Gift Marquee on Palace Green was home to more than 200 stalls, while the Regional Producers’ Market in Durham Cathedral Cloisters presented 30 more stalls, and was for the first time this year open all three days of the festival.

A further 30 stalls were positioned in Durham Market Place, with 50 more permanent stalls open each day in Durham Market Hall.

Colin Wilkes, Managing Director of Durham Markets, commented that the Christmas Festival had seen its busiest Friday for several years, while Saturday was once again the busiest day overall.  Over the three days, Durham Market Hall had its busiest recorded weekend for six years.

Durham Xmas Fest Best Presented Bewitched 2014Alongside the retailers, a wide range of entertainment added to the festive spirit, including carolling, brass bands, fire eating, seasonal storytelling, children’s crafts and more.  As always, one of the highlights was the Children’s Lantern Procession, led by the Chester Le Street Salvation Army Band from Durham Market Place to the Cathedral, where the children and their families packed the Cathedral for the St Nicholas Service.  The main Durham Park and Ride facilities reported substantial increased weekend usage compared to last year.

Mayor of Durham, Cllr John Robinson, reported that the number of visitors to his coffee morning on Saturday in the Town Hall was considerably higher than in 2013.  On the Sunday morning, he and his wife visited the Craft and Gift Marquee judging the best presented trader competition.  The winner was Bewitched, the owners of which, Allison Heron and Jan Cockroft, were attending the Christmas Festival for the first time.

Colin Wilkes added:
“Our thanks go out to the small teams from Durham Markets Company and Durham University (Event Durham) who pulled out all the stops and worked extremely hard to organise and stage this event.  There’s been a wonderful atmosphere throughout the city all through the festival, with busy shops, cafes and attractions, and as always it’s a lovely way to start the Christmas season!”