Galway City Council has rejected Galway City Business Association's (GCBA) application to run a Christmas Festival in Eyre Square and Spanish Arch this year.
The Galway City Business Association first brought the Christmas Market to Galway in 2011 and had been in extensive consultation with City Council officials since February 2016 to develop an alternative approach and format to previous years' markets. This took into consideration a number of matters of concern raised by the Council. However, when the contract was put out to tender for 2016, there were no expressions of interest from third party operators due to the increased restrictions.
Following this unsuccessful tender process, the GCBA and the East Village Boards collaborated and submitted an alternative proposal to feature a large Christmas lighting display created by Arcana, creators of the Macnas Parade and responsible for similar lighting installations at Bishop Lucey Park, Cork and other venues, together with a number of local market stalls and festive hospitality venues confined to the paved section at the top of the Square. It was envisaged that funds raised would be reinvested back into the Christmas Festival and other events in the Square throughout the year.
This event and the proposed format was fully supported by local businesses and traders. Additional events proposed included an ice rink and family fun area at Spanish Arch and a proposal for LEO (Local Enterprise Office) to run a local craft market in Woodquay at weekends leading up to Christmas. Galway City Council subsequently informed the Board that, despite their earlier advice and consultation, the application should have followed a different application process and, ultimately, the GCBA did not have adequate time or resources to prepare and co-ordinate a third submission.
In 2014, when the Christmas Market was last exclusively in Eyre Square, its economic impact was estimated at over €19m and it attracted footfall of over 600,000 people.
Looking forward, the focus of the GCBA for the remainder of 2016 is to expand the new city Christmas lights, which were purchased by the GCBA last year with support from Galway City Council, to other parts of the city, including the Latin Quarter. The Board are considering other potential events which would attract increased numbers of visitors to the city in the run up to Christmas and it also intends submitting a full application for a Christmas Market in 2017 to make Galway the "Capital of Christmas".
The Board welcomes the input of Members and invites all to become involved with the organisation and implementation of these important city centre activities.
It is understood that the City Council is considering a submission by another operator to run a Christmas Market in 2016.