The organisers of Leeds’s German Christmas market on Millennium Square have confirmed that the event will not take place this year due to ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19.
Leeds City Council’s partners at Frankfurt City Council have this week taken the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event in the interests of public safety.
The council will now be working with partners locally to look at alternative ways to celebrate the festive season safely in Leeds, in line with social distancing and the latest government guidance around evens and social gatherings.
Kurt Stroscher, Frankfurt City Council’s director of festivals and events, said: “After bringing the first German Christmas market to Leeds many years ago, we have worked with Leeds City Council, the stallholders and other partners to make it the popular event that it is today. Because of its importance to the public, traders and local economy, the arguments as to whether the Christmas Market should go ahead were considered very carefully. However, the health and safety of visitors have to be the top priority.
“Christmas markets are very much a place for socialising in a warm and cosy atmosphere, with Millennium Square the perfect setting for this. This fundamental part of the Leeds Christmas Market’s identity cannot be achieved in a global pandemic. The social distancing rules and hygiene measures needed to control the pandemic are not compatible with the visitor experience that the people of Leeds have come to expect in the run-up to Christmas. Consideration was also given to the possibility that visitors might not adhere to the social distancing rules and behave in ways that they have been used to in the past. Under no circumstances should the Christmas Market contribute in any way to worsening the pandemic.
“Based on these arguments, the organisers knew that it would not be right to offer a version of the market that was very different from the familiar product and therefore failed to satisfy visitors’ expectations. They will now be focusing all their energies on bringing Leeds a wonderful Christmas Market in its familiar and much-loved form in 2021.”
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council added: “We’re obviously extremely disappointed that the German market won’t be taking place this year and we know it’s been an incredibly difficult decision for our long-time friends in Frankfurt to have to make.
“Whilst we know people will be similarly disappointed, we fully understand that the safety of the public, traders and the city as a whole has to come first while we are still fighting this pandemic.
“Rest assured though, we will still be celebrating Christmas in Leeds and we’ll be exploring some new and different ways for people to be able to do that safely and responsibly this festive season.”