Warrington transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland as a record number of crowds gathered in the town centre to kickstart festive celebrations.
An estimated 63,000 people visited Warrington’s Weekend Wonderland over the final weekend in November, beating the 60,000 who came to last year’s event.
Organised by Warrington Business Improvement District (BID), in collaboration with Warrington Borough Council and Culture Warrington, the two-day spectacle delivered an early Christmas boost to the town as thousands took part in the range of festivities.
The Christmas cracker of events included Independent Street Markets, funfairs, workshops, street entertainers, musical performances, a Christmas parade, and a spectacular light show illuminated onto Warrington town hall, featuring the town’s history.
Amy Dawber, Warrington BID Manager, said: “What an amazing weekend for Warrington. It was incredible to see so many people in our town centre and the wonderful feedback received not just from visitors but from businesses has been truly overwhelming.
“I’ve never seen the town so busy, and it makes all the hard work and planning throughout the year worthwhile. Bringing some festive magic to our great town is something I will never, ever tire of.”
In Golden Square, a variety of choirs took to the stage to create the perfect musical setting, while Father Christmas was on hand spreading Christmas cheer to many who visited the town. Youngsters also got to meet the Grinch and take part in free craft workshops, with the return of Culture Warrington’s at No.25 Christmas Installation and the Snow Queen greeting crowds inside her snow globe also proving popular.
More than 70 independent Christmas stalls lined the town centre streets. Family-run business Beau Pens, who specialise in handmade pens, razors and make-up brushes, had a stall in Golden Square, and co-owner Janine Calvert has praised the people of Warrington for their hospitality.
“We travel up and down the UK doing fairs and markets, but Warrington is up there with the best,” said Janine.
“The Weekend Wonderland was fantastic; it was very busy and a lot of people bought our fountain pens – the carol singing was beautiful and the Christmas spirit was lovely. We absolutely love Warrington.”
The Weekend Wonderland’s main event circled around the street parade, led by Katumba Drummers and the Mayor of Warrington, Cllr Steve Wright, who took large crowds towards the town hall for the final showcase.
Vandal Bar and Kitchen, on Palmyra Square South, was at the heart of the parade during the event. Michael Butler, General Manager revealed the business attracted a 15% increase in footfall thanks to the parade route.
He said: “The Weekend Wonderland was great, we were really busy anyway, but the parade gave us a huge boost. When the parade came by, everyone in here was stood up at the windows looking out, it was fantastic.”
Following the parade, guests were treated to a magical light and sound show of a festive story celebrating Christmas and New Year, which was projected across the front of the town hall building to end the festivities.
Andrea Morley, Commercial & BIDs Manager, said: “From the moment people stepped foot into Warrington town centre, they were given a true Warringtonian welcome, the Christmas spirit was truly magical.
“I am incredibly proud of our town and we are currently collating a range of feedback so we can look at future plans for next year’s spectacle.” Warrington BID will continue to work in partnership with Warrington Borough Council, Culture Warrington and Independent Street Markets for the development and delivery of future events in the town.