Christmas in Preston Events Uplift City’s Spirit and Economy

18 December 2023
 Image credit: Michael Porter Photography

The vibrant and diverse array of Christmas events in Preston has not only ignited the festive spirit but also led to a substantial surge in footfall, marking a monumental success for the city and its community.

A programme of carefully curated Christmas events, including Preston’s first Fire Garden, choir showcases, makers markets, creative craft workshops, the Winckley Square Christmas Concert, Santa and family fun day at Preston Markets and the much-anticipated Christmas Lights Switch On, have collectively attracted a large number of visitors. The city’s streets, adorned with festive lights and alive with the sounds of celebration, have seen a notable increase in foot traffic, illustrating the ‘Christmas in Preston’ events drawing in residents and visitors alike.

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for Arts and Culture at Preston City Council reflecting on the success, said:

“The overwhelming response to the Christmas in Preston events has been immensely gratifying. We’ve seen a remarkable increase in footfall, breathing a new life into our streets and local businesses.

“These events, made possible through the concerted efforts of our community and the support of Preston City Council and Preston BID, have not only elevated the city’s festive offerings but have also significantly strengthened our local economy.”

Mark Whittle, from Preston Business Improvement District (BID), added:

“Christmas is a critical time for traders. A comprehensive programme of events and activities across the month will have undoubtedly helped in creating an additional desire to visit the city centre.

“With extended shopping hours, award-winning hospitality, free parking and discounted public transport, the city’s Christmas offer is proving to be really well received.

“We look forward to working with the business community and City Council to strengthen the offer even more in 2024.”

Preston’s first Fire Garden, a stunning production by Walk the Plank, served as a pivotal attraction, drawing crowds of 15,000 to Avenham and Miller Parks, transforming the nights into a magical experience that resonated with visitors of all ages. Featuring flame-lined paths, intricately carved flower boxes, and scorching sculptural trees, the immersive Fire Garden lit up the parks and captivated the audience. Its success not only highlighted Preston’s commitment to cultural engagement but also positioned the city as a new destination for unique experiences.

The Fire Garden timing was purposefully synchronised, aiming not just to draw people into Preston but also to encourage extended engagements. Scheduled to coincide with peak shopping hours, the Fire Garden events encouraged attendees to extend their stay, either by going out for a meal or drinks before or after the spectacle.

Each Christmas event orchestrated in Preston served a dual purpose, strategically designed not only to attract visitors into the heart of the city centre but also to complement the existing shopping experience. While some events might not be the primary catalyst for city centre footfall, they inherently contributed to enriching the overall Christmas in Preston experience. Positioned during peak footfall times, these events elevated the atmosphere, providing an added layer of enjoyment to those already present in the city centre and encouraging extended stays.

This increase in event attendees resulted in a tangible boost to local businesses, with shops, restaurants, and markets reporting increased sales during the festive period. The bustling activity in Preston’s city centre throughout the festive season underscores the resilience and vibrancy of the local economy.

As the Christmas in Preston events culminate, Preston City Council extends its gratitude to all participants, volunteers, performers and the community for contributing to the success of these festivities. The collaborative efforts have not only enriched the city’s cultural landscape but have also solidified Preston’s position as a premier destination for memorable and engaging seasonal celebrations.

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