Christmas Market to become a city-wide event

The Christmas Marker in Eyre Square

The Christmas market is set to be rolled out across the city centre – from Eyre Square to Woodquay and Spanish Arch – this year in an effort to grow the four-week event.

Following concerns raised about damage to the grass on Kennedy Park from the Continental Market on previous occasions, the operators – the Galway City Business Association – has made significant changes to the plans for this year.

They include:

■ A market in Eyre Square with a central location on a reduced footprint and the bier keller moved to the middle of the Square;
■ An ‘enchanted garden’ with lights and decorations at the bottom of the square (the former bier keller site);
■ A Christmas Wonderland in the Eyre Square Centre;
■ Events in the City Library;
■ Amusements and vintage carousel at the Spanish Arch;
■ Weekend crafts and arts market at Woodquay;
■ ‘Christmas on Ice’ skating rink at the Docks;
■ Pantomimes in the Town Hall Theatre.

The business group also hopes to make use of the northern side of Eyre Square (near Supermac’s) and the pedestrianised area alongside the Skeff.

During a presentation to city councillors this week, Áine Feeney, Chair of the GCBA, said the market will run from November 20 to December 22 and an events licence application is being prepared.

She said the committee is “very mindful” of past experiences, and now believe the event should be rebranded as ‘Christmas in Galway’, to incorporate the entire city centre.

“There is a general feeling that the market experience should be transferred throughout the city – to include Shop Street, Woodquay, Spanish Arch and the existing (St Nicholas’) Saturday market,” said Ms Feeney.

She said the bier keller would be moved from Kennedy Park because of the damage that had been caused to the grass by previous markets.

Ms Feeney said the GCBA wants to build on the €16 million which the market has generated for the city since 2010.

The business group is also keen for an investment to be made over the next few years in the city’s Christmas street lights.

The GCBA has paid for and maintained the lights for the last 11 years – last year the bill was €26,000.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) said he believed the words ‘Christmas Market’ were crucial to attracting people to the city, and he believed there are too many food stalls at the market.

He added that he would not like to see everything move to the Latin Quarter.

Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) said his issue is with the management of the market, and a “damning report” previously drawn up which raised health and safety concerns.

He asked if any event company is in place for 2015, as he would strenuously object to the previous one being contracted again.

Cllr Ollie Crowe (FF) said the market has brought huge revenue to the city, and he was delighted that it is being spread throughout the city.

Businessman Anthony Ryan – the former chair of the GCBA and who heads the committee responsible for the Christmas market – said it is not intended that any grass areas in the Square will be used, if possible.

He added that at a meeting with the Health and Safety Authority last year, the market operator ‘ticked all the boxes’, and he had no issue there.