Leeds’ Christmas market could be set to make a welcome comeback this year, following a four-year absence.
The city council has signed a new six-figure deal with a contractor, Market Place Europe, to run a festive market for the next three Decembers, up to 2025.
Should it go ahead this year, it would be the first time since 2019 Leeds has had a proper Christmas market.
While Covid put pay to the popular German-themed stalls in 2020 and 2021, many yearned for their return last Christmas.
However, to the disappointment of seasonal shoppers, last year’s market was scrapped too, with the city council blaming visa “costs and complications”, although some festive stalls did run alongside the Ice Cube attraction in Millennium Square.
The council has remained coy about whether this year’s offer will be similar to the German markets Leeds enjoyed before the pandemic. They say no decisions have been taken yet about its look or feel, or even if it will be in Millennium Square again.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, the council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Building on the huge success of the Ice Cube at Christmas and other attractions introduced around Millennium Square last year, the council is proposing to work with Marketplace Europe to expand and improve the Christmas market offer in Leeds.
“Whilst no decisions have been made about the precise locations or the exact nature of the offer, we will be specifically looking at how we can best use our streets and available spaces in the city centre to provide more fun, festive and affordable experiences for the people of Leeds.”
A document detailing the council’s contract with Marketplace Europe indicated this year’s event is likely to run between 24 November and 17 December, with a “similar arrangement” confirmed for the following two years.
It described the company as the “largest” operator of Christmas markets in the UK, with 5,000 traders on their books.
The council will be paid £336,000 across the three years as part of the deal, although the document said that extra costs are likely to bring the overall income down to around £240,000.