A massive expansion of Newcastle’s Christmas markets has been confirmed – including plans for a toboggan run and a ‘helter skelter bar’.
Controversial designs to almost double the size of the festive markets have been officially signed off this week.
It means that this year’s attractions will take over Northumberland Street and Blackett Street, as well as their usual location around Grey’s Monument.
That move has sparked anger from street traders and retailers in the historic Grainger Market, who have complained that they will suffer throughout the Christmas period because of the added competition.
Despite those objections, Newcastle City Council has now given new market operator Mellors Group the green light to press ahead.
Coun Ged Bell, cabinet member for employment and culture, said: “I very much look forward to welcoming these markets to the city and am confident they will position Newcastle as a major festive destination, one to rival other national and European cities.
“We are a vibrant and modern city which deserves a Christmas experience and a successful market. The additional visitors this will bring will also have a positive impact across the city, particularly for existing hotels, shops, bars and restaurants.”
The markets will open on November 16, with shopping stalls and attractions open right up until Christmas Eve. Street food and drink stalls will stay open until New Year’s Eve.
This year’s festive delights will include a 30m toboggan slide and a traditional carousel on Blackett Street, plus a ‘helter skelter bar’ where parents can relax with a mulled wine while children enjoy the rides.
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The markets will also feature a ski lodge-themed bar and a variety of musical acts.
Edward Mellors, a director of the Mellors Group said: “We are looking forward to getting Christmas underway in Newcastle. With the new attractions and an even bigger market, it will have all the trimmings to make Christmas in Newcastle, a memorable experience.”
Stephen Patterson, of Business Improvement District company NE1, added: “As the North East’s number one retail and leisure destination, it is right that the city delivers a festive offer that we can all be proud of. This year’s Christmas Markets will be a huge part of this. It signals a step change in the city’s approach to Christmas, something we are excited to build upon in the years to come.”
The planning permission granted this week allows Mellors to operate the expanded markets for the next three years – though the firm has signed a five-year contract with the council.
The decision to bring in Mellors, which also runs Nottingham’s Christmas markets, has provoked anger among many local traders.
Council bosses have come under fire for a lack of consultation before the new plans were drawn up.