ORGANISERS of a festival hosted by celebrity chef Tom Kerridge have been criticised for failing to publicise the event before cancelling it.

People living near the venue in Bicester said they had ‘no idea’ the star-studded Christmas event was going to be held in their town.

The TV chef had planned to stage his Pub in the Park event at Bicester Heritage for nine days later this month.

Tickets went on sale last Tuesday, however, less than 48 hours later, organisers pulled the plug – blaming the public for not buying enough tickets because of Covid safety fears.

But people in Bicester say they would have attended and are confused as to why organisers did not give more notice of the event and allow more time for them to buy tickets.

ALSO READ: Tom Kerridge cancels Bicester Pub in the Park event

Resident David Greene commented on the Bicester Chat Facebook group: "This makes no sense, how could they make a determination that people didn’t feel safe after being on sale for 36 hours? Did people book then cancel straight away? Something doesn’t smell right."

Oxford Mail:

Sebastian Price said: "For these events to go ahead, tickets go on sale months in advance, it is clear that it was never going ahead. They released information just before we were going into tier 2. It’s such a shame as these events were amazing."

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Resident Zach Austin-Humphries commented: "How can they get annoyed at people when they've only had tickets on sale for three days, done zero advertisement for it and then tried charging people £70 per person. Sorry but sounds more like they don't know how to run an event."

The festival would have featured comedy from Mark Watson, Reginald D Hunter, Ed Byrne and Angela Barnes, classic movies such as Star Wars, and a show by stars of the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

Tickets were priced at £35 for adults and £12.50 for children.

Visitors to the former RAF airfield would have been treated to a film, comedy set or theatre show while tucking into food perfected by Tom at his Michelin starred Marlow pubs The Hand & Flowers and The Coach.

Oxford Mail:

To comply with Covid rules, the socially-distanced event would have seen groups of ticket holders entertained from the comfort and safety of their own pods, with seating for up to six people, spaced out in a large area in front of the big screen or stage.

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Neither Mr Kerridge nor organisers were available for comment, but in a statement, organisers said they would be booking all of their talent to appear 'as much as possible' in their programme next year.

Bicester residents said the festival would have given the town a much-needed boost at the close of a challenging year and that if they had known about it, they would have booked tickets.

Patricia Bell commented: "That would have been a great boost. Heaven only knows we could all do with a cheerful occasion."

Rachel Watmough said: "I didn’t know about it. Shame it’s been cancelled as would’ve been interested in attending."

Peter Allinson said: "Didn’t know this was on. His (Tom Kerridge's) food is top notch. I would have been all in."