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Almost 100% of visitors want Aberdeen Christmas Village back next year – but will Union Terrace Gardens host some festivities?

The Christmas Village 'brightened up the city' after several Covid lockdowns.
The Christmas Village 'brightened up the city' after several Covid lockdowns.

A survey has revealed 99% of Aberdeen Christmas Village visitors want it back next year – and already there are suggestions some of it could be staged in the revamped Union Terrace Gardens.

The poll, carried out by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC), asked 227 attendees, 30 vendors and 30 local businesses what they thought of the festive offering last year.

It found that 63% of people who visited the Codona’s-run Christmas Village were women, and 83% came from the city.

A majority had come in previous years, but 40% said the 2021 winter wonderland at Broad Street, Upperkirkgate and the Marischal College quad was their first.

More visitors than ever before – 83% – said their overall experience was either good or extremely good.

The survey was carried out through a QR code link publicised around the village, and asking people directly at a variety of times and locations.

How did Christmas Village footfall match to previous years?

Last December, Aberdeen Inspired boss Adrian Watson said brightening up the city after several Covid lockdowns was more important than the number of visitors who came along to the Christmas Village.

It was feared at the time that attendance might be affected by the raging Omicron variant, and the AGCC survey suggests it may indeed have had an impact.

Aberdeen Inspired chief executive Adrian Watson said there were 'more important' things than visitor numbers at this year's Christmas village. Picture by Paul Glendell/DCT Media.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, at the Christmas Village.

While no headcounts were taken, there was a 4% increase in city centre footfall over the time the village was open, compared to an 8% increase in 2018.

Mr Watson said: “I can only go by feedback since I wasn’t there every hour of the day, but what I saw was it was well-attended.

“But we were looking to build confidence, build the event through what was a very difficult two years.”

Quad queries

The survey also raises some questions about the prominence given to the quad area of the Christmas Village.

More than 80% of the people surveyed said they didn’t visit that section, which featured dozens of local businesses selling their products from German-style wooden cabins.

The Quad during the Christmas Village in 2018. Picture by Kenny Elrick

That compares to the 80% of people who said they did visit the main food market and bar on Broad Street, just a short trip away through the glass double doors of Marischal College.

Mr Watson said: “It’s still one that we need to work on, the communication aspect of the Quad. Signage could help, there’s no doubt about that.

“You have to listen to the feedback, and certainly we’ll look to try and improve that flow-through from the main Christmas Village on Broad Street to the quad.”

Could event come to UTG this year?

When asked for ways the Christmas Village could be made “bigger and better” in the future, one respondent had an interesting suggestion.

They said: “Could it move to the Union Terrace Gardens when they open – a wonderful location in the making?”

The event was first staged along Union Terrace, so the move would represent something of a spiritual homecoming.

This idea was picked up by Conservative councillor Michael Kusznir at a council committee discussion of the survey on Thursday.

He asked: “Is there any consideration to seeing if other events could be in Union Terrace Gardens when it’s open?”

A council officer told him future options would be “considered as instructed”.

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