England’s oldest Christmas market has been called off in what critics are saying is the latest example of the “cancellation of Christmas”.
Lincoln Market has been cancelled after the city council said it had become too popular and was now ‘a significant risk to public safety’.
And now local authorities and festive event organisers across the country are facing a backlash as festive markets are scrapped, light switch-ons axed and the word ‘Christmas’ is replaced with ‘winter’.
Markets in Brighton and Felixstowe have also been called off while a popular Christmas market in County Durham has been renamed the ‘Winter Market’ – seemingly in an attempt to become more inclusive.
The Bowes Museum, which was founded by the ancestors of the Queen Mother, has this year removed the word ‘Christmas’ from the event’s title.
BBC Antiques Road Trip expert David Harper called for the museum’s ‘bonkers’ decision to be reversed, saying it was ‘deleting’ Christmas.
Mr Harper claimed the museum was hoping to try to attract more people but was taking the joy out of Christmas.
He said: “What’s next? Are we going to cancel Santa, the reindeer, children wearing Christmas hats?
“Essentially, all you’ll be left with is a Wednesday market. This won’t stop until we stop it. We need to nip this in the bud, take control and be a bit braver.”
Cllr Ric Metcalfe, leader of City of Lincoln Council, said: ‘We understand some people’s disappointment that Lincoln Christmas Market is no more. The decision was announced nine months ago on the basis that we simply could not continue delivering an event that had been deemed a significant risk to public safety.”
But MP for Lincoln Karl McCartney slammed the decision to cancel the market, saying: ‘It doesn’t seem rocket science to mitigate and ensure all aspects are catered for’.
“The Christmas market is something that not only everybody looks forward to who lives, works, studies or visits Lincoln but you can’t even pay for the advertising that gave Lincoln and the county of Lincolnshire.’
“Lincoln at Christmas remains a stunning place to visit, with lights all across the city centre and our new Ice Trail and traditional festive activities taking place this weekend.”
Last year’s four-day event saw 320,000 people flock to the city for its 40th year – but fears of crushes and other crowd injuries have meant the council rejected a last-ditch attempt to secure the future of the event.
In 2022, almost 90 people were treated for injuries and the council had to enforce people-calming measures in order to prevent a crushing disaster.
Elsewhere Christmas markets are not the only casualty of this year’s festive season – many towns have called off their light switch-ons too.
Towns including Bournemouth, Bolton, Medway and Leominster are cancelling the events in order to save cash or as a result of local disruption such as roadworks.
In Bournemouth, the switch-on was ditched after its £44,000 budget was scrapped in a cost-saving exercise – the council currently has a £44m hole in its finances.
Medway Council took similar action and said it would save £75,000 – as they seek to fill a £17m budget gap.
The decision caused fury among local residents who took aim the council’s ‘poor financial management’ and highlighted other areas where money could be saved instead.
Some people are even complaining about tongue-in-cheek Christmas cards this year – after Sainsbury’s got into hot water over a card which vegans said was the ‘unkindest’ they’d ever seen.
The card features an image of two pigs in the snow, with the text reading:
‘Don’t worry, I hear we’re getting some blankets.’
Drawing attention to the card online, an X user wrote: ‘I know everyone’s sense of humour is different but I think this is the saddest, unkindest Xmas card I’ve ever seen.’
While some vegans were quick to agree, even some meat-eaters thought the supermarket had gone too far.
One wrote: ‘I eat pork, but yeah. That’s incredibly bleak and sad.’
Commenting on the matter, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said ‘We offer a wide range of festive cards and welcome customer feedback on this year’s designs’.
Food historian Annie Gray said the first time a Christmas market in the style of those today arrived in the UK was in Lincoln in 1982, adding:
“There weren’t any in the UK, they are an imported thing.”