Issued by: Make It York
Issue Date: Friday 1 February 2019 

York’s Christmas market is officially the best in the UK.  Organised by the National Association of British Market Authorities, the foremost authority on markets in the UK and sponsored by KPR Midlink, The Great British Market Awards celebrate excellence in retail and wholesale markets right across the UK.  York St Nicholas Fair scooped the title of ‘Best Large Speciality Market’ at this national awards ceremony, held at Birmingham’s Council House, Thursday 31 January. 

Chris Price, Head of York City Centre and Markets at the city’s destination marketing agency, Make It York said: “I feel so proud because the team put in so much effort.  We genuinely wanted to deliver something special for York.  It takes all year to prepare for and it’s so great to hear from your peers that people like what we are doing.”

The city’s tourism campaign, named ‘Only in York’ focusses on promoting everything that is unique and special to York and Yorkshire.  Over 60% of the traders at York St Nicholas Fair were from city and region. Local traders such as Ainsty Ales, York Gin and Blueberry Hill Preserves were all popular with visitors to the Fair.  

Chris explained: “Our strategy for the Christmas market has been to make it different and local, a part of the whole city, not just an add-on.  I think the secret to York’s success is that it is totally different to other markets, it’s local and people want to shop in a place that is special to that area.  People don’t want to visit a market that they could easily find anywhere else.”  

Paul Whiting, Head of Visit York, said: “It is a fantastic accolade for York to be recognised by the markets industry in what is NABMA’S centenary year. York St Nicholas Fair is a great advert for York and Yorkshire with such a high proportion of local businesses involved and giving local residents and visitors alike the chance to enjoy a wonderful festive atmosphere and see the city looking its best.”

NABMA President, Councillor Mrs Geraldine Carter said: “The applications for the Great British Market Awards 2019 have seen entries from across the UK from a wide range of diverse and inspiring markets and events.  As the future of our high streets continues to be under scrutiny, it is clear, that offering customers unique shopping opportunities along with great events, that markets can continue to be at the heart of our communities, towns and cities.”

St Nicholas Fair is at the very heart of Christmas celebrations in York, which was also named the most festive city in the UK in a national online poll by Virgin Trains. The specialist market takes place for six weeks across the Christmas period and is delivered by Make It York.  With over 100 chalets along Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, The Coppergate Centre and The Judge’s Lodging, York’s St Nicholas Fair has grown in popularity since it was first conceived 25 years ago.  

Chris added: “By encouraging independent local and Yorkshire based businesses to take part in the Fair and extending it to six whole weeks, the market has become the ‘go to’ event for Christmas shoppers from right across the UK as well as overseas.”  

Visitor figures to the market are still to be announced but early signs are that more visitors attended than ever before.  Coach bookings were up from 455 in 2017 to 482, coming from the Netherlands, Belgium and across the UK.

NABMA has secured a reference to markets in the Government’s Planning Policy Framework and also secured major recognition for markets in the Mary Portas report which led to the Love Your Local Market Campaign, which York has taken part in. 

According to NABMA, such has been the success of Love Your Local Market that it has become the single biggest market event ever promoted.   ENDS

For further information please contact:
Kay Hyde – Head of Communications – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554451
Mobile: 07506 048852

About Make It York 
Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand 
Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York.

Key tourism facts:  
6.9    million visitors annually, £564 million total visitor spend, supporting 19,000 jobs

NABMA (the National Association of British Market Authorities) works to raise the profile of markets at national and local level, and the professionalism of market operators.  It provides a wide range of services to its members including health checks on existing markets and advice on legal and technical issues impacting on markets.  NABMA delivers the Great British Market Awards, and has also developed and delivered the “Love Your Local Market” (LYLM) campaigns which are the UK’s most successful celebration of markets.