Disappointment over scaling down of festive celebrations

One of the spectacular lanterns in last year’s parade

Amanda Coombs, general manager at the St Giles Cafe

Pegasus Theatre artistic director Jonathan Lloyd

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

ARTS organisations and traders have said they are disappointed that there will be no road closures for Oxford’s Christmas celebrations.

A three-day road closure of St Giles last year enabled Oxford City Council to hold a Christmas market and lantern parade, drawing in 100,000 visitors and giving a £1.8m boost to the economy.

But the council announced on Thursday that it would not be closing any roads this year following complaints from residents, businesses and city workers about the inconvenience it caused.

The authority said there will still be celebrations from Friday to Sunday, November 21 to 23.

City council spokeswoman Louisa Dean said: “There will be a three-day festival but without a road closure. We are in the very early stages of planning.”

Yesterday Pegasus artistic director Jonathan Lloyd said: “All of us at Pegasus are disappointed about the proposals to remove the lantern parade and fair from this year’s Christmas Light Festival. Last year’s parade provided a fantastic focal point for the festival, involving hundreds of local schoolchildren, and attracting new audiences. It created a wonderful, communal, carnival-like atmosphere in the run-up to Christmas. That would be difficult to recreate if the festival is dispersed through various venues.”

Amanda Coombs, general manager at St Giles Cafe, said: “It is really disappointing. It attracts lots of people through the city. In terms of business the road closure can affect our deliveries but for three days it brings more people, more footfall into Oxford and it benefits us.”

Jo Ross, director at Oxford Contemporary Music, which organised the programme of music at last year’s event, said: “I think last year was such a fantastic year for Oxford generally for Christmas and that event contributed to it enormously.

“What the events team at the city council managed to do is transform it into something that would attract people outside the city but give residents a sense of celebration around that.”

Prof Andrew Parker, principal bursar of St John’s College in St Giles, said: “The city’s analysis of the last Christmas Lights Festival has revealed the high costs of road closures in St Giles, both economically and in terms of traffic disruption.

“We hope that some other way can be found to retain the lantern walk.”

Comments (3)

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8:13am Sat 15 Mar 14

bagginsofwhitecross says...

Christmas....Bah Humbug.
Christmas....Bah Humbug. bagginsofwhitecross
  • Score: 0

8:16am Sat 15 Mar 14

H.J.Harris says...

If some people had their way, nothing out of the ordinary routine would happen in Oxford. Perhaps the likes of these "residents, businesses and city workers" would like to put a stop to St Giles Fair too.
The Cycle event was a success but I haven't heard of any plans for it to return.
If some people had their way, nothing out of the ordinary routine would happen in Oxford. Perhaps the likes of these "residents, businesses and city workers" would like to put a stop to St Giles Fair too. The Cycle event was a success but I haven't heard of any plans for it to return. H.J.Harris
  • Score: 1

8:24pm Sat 15 Mar 14

Oxfordian20 says...

Actually, I think Gloucester Green could be the perfect venue. It is an existing and under-utilised public space. Yes, it might mean a scaling down but perhaps what will remain will be 'cream' of what we had last year, which in fact was in part a rather colder, albeit smaller, version of the annual St Giles fair. With some imagination and careful planning, this year's event COULD be very successful and perhaps with fewer traffic problems, people will be more inclined to come into the City Centre. Let's look at the positive and make it work.
Actually, I think Gloucester Green could be the perfect venue. It is an existing and under-utilised public space. Yes, it might mean a scaling down but perhaps what will remain will be 'cream' of what we had last year, which in fact was in part a rather colder, albeit smaller, version of the annual St Giles fair. With some imagination and careful planning, this year's event COULD be very successful and perhaps with fewer traffic problems, people will be more inclined to come into the City Centre. Let's look at the positive and make it work. Oxfordian20
  • Score: 0

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