Manchester’s annual Christmas markets have officially closed after months of speculation over whether the huge event will go ahead.
The council had kept the festivals ‘under review’ and had been exploring options for several months but today decided to cancel the markets altogether.
The latest plans were for a three-row market of Piccadilly Gardens, Dinsgate and Cathedral Gardens modeled after the regular Maker Markets.
The markets, which will usually start in the coming weeks, attract thousands of visitors to the city every year.
This year’s Christmas lights are also off the switch-on event, New Year’s Eve fireworks and Bonfire Night celebrations.
Councilman Pat Carney, a spokesman for Manchester Christmas, said today that even the proposed small markets did not meet with public health approvals and that the council could never “take risks” in the public good.
The city will still be illuminated by the installation of Christmas lights and seasonal lighting, including glowing Santas in the Piccadilly Gardens.
Mr Carney said: “We have canceled everything. It has not met our commercial and public health tests, so three markets for locations have been canceled, and will not be held.
“It was a million miles away from the Christmas-themed Christmas market, which people were probably very worried about.
“Wall-to-wall markets have never been part of our plan on this, we’re not that authentic.
“The health of all of us, we can’t take any risk with it.
“It’s going to be a very unusual Christmas in Manchester but what we’re going to do is set up extra lighting by the city center and the addition of extra static lighting.
“I don’t want Manchester to be North Korea’s Christmas.
“Adults know the health risks, but I think kids will be amazed at what is happening this Christmas – I would like to point out that Father Christmas is not too bad and all the kids in town can expect to see us.”
“We’re going to light up Manchester with lights.”
He added that the event is a ‘highlight of the economic season’ and hopes people will visit the city center for Christmas shopping, with thousands of retail jobs relying on busy times.
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