The famous York St Nicholas Christmas Fair has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A hugely popular draw during the festive season, the fair was due to run from the lights switch on in mid-November almost through to the big day.
But today, city leaders announced that the Christmas market has been cancelled, as health concerns grew about packing crowds of shoppers into the city centre in the coming weeks.
Sean Bullick, managing director of Make It York, said: “It is with deep sadness that we’ve had to cancel the 2020 Christmas market.
“This decision has not been taken lightly and we’ve been working hard behind the scenes with City of York Council and the Safety Advisory Group to consider all possible options and look at ways to run a safe event.
“We know how important this event is for the city however, our paramount priority continues to be the health and wellbeing of our residents, visitors, traders and the city as a whole.
“Safety considerations must come first, and the decision to cancel this year’s physical event is in line with the latest public health advice in this area.”
Virtual festive fair
The cancellation follows the government introducing a three-tier restriction system, with York added to the ‘medium’ alert level.
YorkMix understands the decision had been taken before the government’s announcement yesterday, as York’s Covid-19 infection rates have risen above the national average.
Sean said: “We understand the impact this will have on local traders, retailers and other hospitality businesses across the city and we will be working hard to support them over the next few months and promote the unique festive offering that the city has.”
Plans are underway for a “virtual Christmas market” on the Make It York website to showcase city businesses.
Andrew Lowson, executive director of York BID, said: “There is still so much to enjoy in the city – the BID have started to install the 15km of lights which transform our beautiful city over the festive period, and our local businesses are making preparations to offer a quality festive experience in a safe and controlled environment.
“We hope that people will continue to support local businesses and soak up the unique atmosphere found in York at Christmas time.”
And Councillor Darryl Smalley, executive member for culture, leisure and communities, said: “This is of course extremely disappointing, but public safety has to be at the heart of every decision. And while the way we celebrate has to be a little different this year, York will always be magical at Christmas.”