New look Swanage Christmas market attracts more visitors

The much larger Swanage Christmas Street Market in Dorset has been hailed as a great success after expanding along into Institute Road for the first time.

With extra space devoted to the market on Saturday 2nd December 2023, the organiser Swanage and Purbeck Rotary was able to increase the number of stalls from 44 to 56, giving traders more space and visitors more room to browse.

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Despite a freezing start to the day, Swanage Christmas Market was better attended than ever

And as the market extended into Institute Road, there was more space for traders and visitors

Higher than normal footfall

Despite a sub-zero start to the day, the event attracted thousands of visitors and many businesses reported higher than normal footfall as market goers visited local shops and carried on spending in the search for unique and personal Christmas presents.

Visitors to the market also remarked how pleased they were that there was more room to move between stalls, a wider selection of gifts to buy and less crowding as families gathered to visit Santa or join in communal carols led by the Swanage Churches Together Choir.

There was also further live music provided through the day by the Kelp Sea Shanty Choir, the Allsort’d Choir and Andrew Cannon.

Stunning homemade Christmas gifts and treats were on sale from, amongst others, Covent Garden trained florist Hannah Ford with her Magnolia Moon dried flower wreaths, amazing cupcake bouquets from Hollyhocks and photographic gifts featuring Purbeck views from local photographer Cenk.

Swanage Churches Together choir led a large gathering in a carol service on Station Road

Hannah Ford’s Magnolia Moon dried flowers stall was especially popular

“All money raised comes back into the community”

Deirdre Selwyn from Swanage and Purbeck Rotary said:

“We were very pleased with the number of local groups who are taking part, and we were delighted to have been able to give some of them pitches free of charge to help them with their fund raising.

“The Christmas Market started off as a small event to help the traders bring more people into Swanage in December. I started organising it about nine years ago, during which time it has grown and continues to grow.

“We deliberately keep pitch fees low compared to other markets in Dorset to help local traders, and all of the money we raise from the Christmas market goes to local charities and projects, so that it all comes back into the community.”

Amazing baker Holly brought her Hollyhock’s Kitchen stall to the market

Helen Hardy was putting Swanage’s name out there through her print and embroidery firm I Can Be

Restricted by space in past years

Deirdre Selwyn added:

“But we have always been restricted by the amount of space in Station Road and almost every year we have had to turn some people away who wanted to take part.

“Now we have permission to use Institute Road as well and it seems to be working very well – the businesses there are happy because they feel part of the market now and it is bringing more people into the shops.

“It’s a really good community event with everyone pulling together to make it a very successful day.”

Jane Johnson’s 12 year old grand daughter Isla made jewellery to raise money for Cancare

Photographer Cenk Albayrak-Touye displayed gifts using images from his new drone cameras

New stalls reported great success

The new stalls included one run by 12 year old Isla with help from her grandma Jane Johnson, to raise funds for Cancare, the cancer support charity for the Isle of Purbeck.

Jane Johnson said:

“Isla is very creative and has spent the past year making bracelets and earrings to sell for charity. Most of them have sold during the morning and we are really pleased how successful she has been.”

Father Christmas attended the fair as usual, with Rotary making no charge for children to see him and get a gift, wanting to make it an experience that everyone could enjoy even when times are tough financially from many.

And Rotary welcomed a stream of visitors into their new pop up Christmas shop kindly donated by Harlees fish and chips, where the charity’s Christmas Mail service will be running until Friday 15th December 2023.

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary Club have already collected hundreds of Christmas cards to deliver at 40p a time

A town centre roundabout was a great attraction for the youngest visitors

Christmas mail service to deliver 2,500 cards

Deirdre Selwyn added:

“Families can drop off Christmas cards for their friends and relatives locally – we deliver to Swanage, Corfe Castle, Langton Matravers and Worth Matravers, and expect to deliver about two and half thousand cards and letters before Christmas at 40p a time.

“Again, it is a real community project, our postmen and women who deliver the cards are all local volunteers, many of whom have been doing it for ten years or so.

“They will just take a few streets each so that we can cope with large numbers of cards and cover all of Swanage plus the surrounding villages.”

Christmas trees, plants and wreaths were on sale from Swanage garden centre Rudge’s

The Salt Pig Too took to the streets to satisfy hungry shoppers

Further information

  • All the Christmas event dates from Swanage and Purbeck Rotary Club are listed on its website

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