A £500m Christmas cracker

Liverpool’s Christmas season is to be officially opened by royalty this week – triggering a £500m boost to the city’s economy.

King John and The Queen of Queen Square – two giant puppets – will cut the ribbon to launch the city’s Christmas market on Friday, November 22. 

The event marks the beginning of the busiest six-week run for the city centre’s shops, hotels, bars, theatres and restaurants with many businesses expecting to record more than 30% of their annual takings between now and New Year and the city centre workforce swelling by an estimated 2,000 additional staff for the season.

Liverpool city centre’s retail district can expect to record more than 1.5m visits a week, with the final week to Christmas hitting a peak footfall of more than 2.5 million visits when the city’s major retailers will take over £1m a day.

To mark the opening of the Christmas Market, operated by Geraud Markets, the city centre will be welcoming its most unusual visitors of the festive season, in the form of three live camels ridden by wise men accompanied by a Marching Funky Band and giant snow-making snowflake.

Now in its 9th year, Liverpool’s Christmas Market features more than 80 stalls selling gifts from around the world, including African wall hangings and South American instruments to German beers and Italian pastries, in addition to the traditional arts and crafts goods.  And this year, stalls will surround the Christmas Tree on Church Street which is being illuminated by a record 50,000 lights.

The market  will be spreading festive spirit to its visitors from near and far until Sunday, December 22. The stalls will cover Lord Street, Church Street, Paradise Street, Tarleton Street, Williamson Street and Basnett Street.

Also opening  is Liverpool’s very first shipping container market – the Urban Winter Village. Made from re-purposed shipping containers, the village will bring one of the hottest trends in urban architecture to the city.

Based in Williamson Square, the Urban Winter Village, supported by City Central BID, will have everything from vintage homewares, scouse greeting cards to a pop up photo booth and boutique fashion brand. There are definitely gifts and stocking fillers for all the family. You can even stop by the Cargo Lounge and warm up with a festive inspired cocktail.

Other highlights of Liverpool city centre’s Christmas programme include two events organised run by City Central BID, which also co-funds the Christmas By Liverpool marketing campaign:

• The Nutcracker Trail – launches Thursday, November 21. 10 locations. Three prizes every week. Take a selfie – or ask a friend to take your pic – with as many nutcrackers and post on social media with the hashtag #NutcrackerTrail
• Bring Your Xmas Jumper to Work – World Record Attempt – Friday, December 6. Current world record held by Dublin with 500 people. Attempt to be held by Clayton Square at 1.30pm.

The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said:  “We are going to have a very special Christmas this year. The city council has worked with its partners to make sure Liverpool really is the place be this year as there are many  exciting and imaginative events which are going to make it a festive season to remember.”

Bill Addy, Chief Executive of Liverpool BID Company, which has also funded a 45-feet high Christmas tree in Exchange Flags and dressing of the Town Hall, said: ”Christmas is the number one event for Liverpool and every year we all aim to improve the experience for shoppers and visitors. Planning begins in January with a host of partners but the real stars are all those countless people who make the city such an attractive and welcoming place.”

Pictured: Mayor Anderson joins the Nutcracker Trail.