Plans are in motion to restore Christmas to the Granite City after the coronavirus pandemic put paid to festivities last year.
The national winter lockdown and strict social distancing measures meant Aberdeen’s annual festive fun was completely called off.
But with the easing of restrictions it is hoped it will return once more to bring some Christmas cheer at the end of what has been an extremely challenging year.
It is also hoped the increase in footfall to the event will help boost local businesses who have spent months with their doors closed since the first national lockdown in March last year.
Plans have now been lodged
Plans have now been submitted to Aberdeen City Council seeking permission for the Christmas Village to return to Broad Street.
Visitors would be treated to an outdoor ice rink, funfair rides as well as festive food and drink stalls.
If approved the quadrangle at Marischal College will once again host the Christmas in the Quad market featuring 24 stalls from local retailers.
And for the first time there are plans to create an additional stand especially for food and drink which would be situated on St Nicholas Street, just outside Marks & Spencer.
Funfair rides, by Codona’s, are also expected to return and will include an Ice Fun House, Balloon Ride and Helter Skelter all to be located on Upperkirkgate.
The 2021 Christmas Village is expected to run from Thursday November 18 until Hogmanay and will be run in partnership between Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen Inspired and Codona’s.
Covid restrictions would be ‘easily managed’ if village returns
Planning documents state the proposals have been developed to manage crowd capacity throughout the Christmas Village. Any future restrictions associated with Covid-19 would be “achieved easily using site infrastructure and staffing”.
It adds the event “seeks to bring more people into the city centre, increase dwell time for shoppers and create a better overall festive atmosphere”.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said he was pleased Aberdeen’s Christmas Village is to return.
He said: “Covid has and continues to have an impact on city centre businesses, and events like this make a positive difference in the ongoing recovery.
“Aberdeen Inspired is supportive of the event, which will safely bring footfall into the city centre and with that, benefits to local businesses.”
Previous controversy over footfall figures
No formal head count was taken of visitors to Aberdeen’s last Christmas Village in 2019, saving the authority £10,000 on a contractor to carry out the work.
Aberdeen Inspired had drawn criticism the year before after claiming 631,000 people visited between November 22 and December 31 in 2018.
Concerns were raised that figures did not accurately represent visitors to the Christmas Village itself, given that passers-by on the way to work, court, council offices or Marischal Square could also have been counted.