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Galway’s Christmas Market will run for two months this year


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Galway’s Christmas Market will run for two months this year Galway’s Christmas Market will run for two months this year

It might only be August . . . but already plans are well underway for the 2023 traditional Christmas Market in Eyre Square which for the first time ever will stretch into the first week of the New Year.

The Christmas and New Year market will now be a two month-long affair, starting on Friday, November 10, before wrapping up on the Sunday evening of January 7, 2024.

Traditionally, the market concludes a few days before Christmas, but local businesses and the hospitality sector are understood to ‘have made the case’ for it to continue into the New Year.

The local Milestone Inventive company will once again be the operators – they have run the event since its second year in 2011 – and estimate it draws in the region of 300,000 visitors to the city centre area each season.

Earlier this year, the City Council, in its tendering request document, asked for the possibility of a ‘pared back market’ continuing to run between Christmas and the early New Year period.

Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone, told the Galway City Tribune that there was only one way to find out on how successful the extension into the New Year would be – ‘and that was to try it’.

“We know of other Christmas markets across Europe who do extend into the New Year period so there’s only way for us of knowing at first-hand. Obviously some of the stalls base their business purely on the Christmas market, so the New Year operation would be a pared-back version – but’s let’s see how it goes,” she said.  She added that they were always looking at ways they could improve the package, such as extra facilities for children and each year they allocated 15% of their turnover to build for the following year’s event.

“No sooner have we finished packing and storing away our stuff for the market gone by, than we start thinking of the next year.

“We have built the market up and improved on it year after year – one of the exciting challenges of this coming season is the extension into the first week of 2024,” she said.

According to Maria Moynihan Lee, the market provides employment for approximately 300 people as well as providing a huge boost for the retail and hospitality sector in the city centre area.

All of the major attractions are expected to return for the 2023-2024 event including the 32-metre high ‘Big Wheel’, the Santa Claus experience, and the Christmas Train.

In their licence application to the City Council, Milestone Inventive list an opening date of Friday, November 10, 2023, for the event and a closing date of Sunday, January 7, 2024.

Their application states that the estimated attendance at the event at any point in time will not exceed 1,500: the licence application has been open for inspection at City Hall since August 11 for a period of three weeks.

With the exception of the first year of the Covid epidemic in 2020, the market has ran uninterrupted since 2010, with a one-way pedestrian system in place in 2021 as part of a Covid safety strategy.

“The Christmas Market is now one of the big seasonal attractions, not only for people in Galway, but also from many other parts of Ireland. We believe that it’s the best of its kind across the country and each year we’ve always tried to add to what we offer.

“We have plenty of ideas for the 2023-2024 event that we’ll be firming up on over the coming months – it’s something for everyone to look forward to,” said Maria Moynihan Lee.

This year’s event is expected to have about 70 distinctive wooden chalets offering a rang of culinary, craft and seasonal treats for visitors.

According to Milestone Inventive, for every €1 spent at the market, a further €3 is spent in the local shops, bars, restaurants and hotels.

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