SUNDERLAND residents were invited to get their skates on….
….and head to Keel Square for the opening of the Christmas Ice Rink on Thursday 30 November.
The open-air ice rink is open for six weeks from the end of November to the first week in January as part of the Christmas celebrations in the city centre, organised by Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID).
The festivities kicked off with a gala event starting at 6pm where professional solo skaters Gary Beacom and Lisa Brewin showed everyone how it’s done and officially opened the ice rink to the public.
Visitors are able to keep the cold at bay by making the most of The Peacock’s festive food stall, which is open every Friday to Sunday while the rink is in the city centre.
“The ice rink is a really popular attraction which is why we have brought it back once again,” said Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID.
“Going ice skating is a great festive treat for the whole family and with the Christmas Market already open at Park Lane, there is something to help everyone get in to the festive spirit.”
Skaters will have plenty of time to practise their moves as the rink is open from 12pm – 9pm 30 November to 22 December and from 10am – 9pm 23 December to 7 January, with sessions on Christmas Eve needing to be pre-booked.
Following investments into the image of Northwich town centre over the last two years, the Northwich Business Improvement District (BID) has once again funded initiatives to catch the eye of shoppers and visitors.
Not only have they invested into winter planters, hanging and railing baskets but they have also facilitated the return of solar powered Christmas trees which are adorning lighting columns throughout the town and at the Hanging Basket stand on Leicester Street which is a key gateway to Northwich.
The trees, which are adding some sparkle to the streets in the run up to Christmas, were switched on at the Extravaganza on Saturday 25th November alongside the town’s Christmas lights and motifs which the BID have also part funded.
These investments by the BID, in particular the provision of winter plants, are all part of the organisation’s objective to deliver a greener and cleaner Northwich which can be enjoyed by shoppers and retailers alike and is the latest in a long line of projects delivered to this effect.
In the last two years alone they’ve been responsible for the re-development of Pocket Park, helped refresh the subway turret next to the Memorial Court, overseen the installation of a walled garden vinyl on Witton Street and also committed extra funds into the weekly cleansing of Northwich Town Centre.
On top of this, the BID carries out monthly audits throughout the year regarding the image and cleansing of the town too.
Northwich BID Officer Mark Henshaw is hopeful that visitors to the town centre will enjoy the floral and festive additions over the coming weeks.
“Since the BID began funding additional planting in the town centre we’ve had so many positive comments about how they add colour and vibrancy, and although the winter planting won’t come to fruition until the spring, they do improve the look and feel of the town.
“We also had great feedback from businesses about the solar Christmas trees last year so we’ve brought them back again. The switch-on was great and it means that people can now fully experience the trees and their shimmering glow.”
Isn’t it lovely to see all the colourful festivities as Christmas approaches?
Everywhere we go we see high streets festooned with awesome lights luring us into the town centre – taking us past decorated cafes and restaurants; exciting shop window displays with tempting gifts to buy; buzzing markets where Christmas songs ring out and where enormous Christmas trees bejewelled with lights invite us to meet our friends and spend time together. If only it could be Christmas all year round!
Sadly (or thankfully) it isn’t.
However, that doesn’t mean that once the last piece of tinsel has skimmed along the gutter in January winds and all the Christmas lights have been taken down that we can forget about ‘making an effort’ until same time next year. Quite the opposite in fact! The time we spend preparing our displays throughout the rest of the year are even MORE important to entice people out of their homes and away from their computers. Colourful, brightly lit window displays save a high street from looking drab and uninviting, helping to prevent people from shopping elsewhere.
But what about the rest of the year? Where do you start? Christmas displays are easy in comparison. Decorations, lights and gifting for most people is the solution. Job done! But what DO you do with that shop window – how do you get your message out to your customer?
Well we can help! We run talks, presentations and workshops teaching the basic guidelines of display. Just where to start and how to do something creative within a tight budget based upon simple key steps. We work with a variety of groups and Trade Associations, but especially with BIDs who can provide our training to the smaller business, many of whom need our help most.
From one of our recent workshops Katie Kinsella had this to say:
“I sourced some funding to host some window display training for retailers in Calderdale in the run up to Christmas and I sourced Made You Look’s details from a google search. The businesses on the training were many and varied which included higher end independents to smaller charity shops. Helen’s approach was interactive and creative. The businesses learnt how to make small changes on a budget and also how to create a more impacting wow factor. All understanding the wants and needs of the customer. Businesses completed the training feeling inspired and motivated. Many thanks to Helen for her inspiration and creative thinking”
So as the New Year approaches, and the twinkle disappears into the gloom, let’s see if we can help your high street shine not only now, but all year round.
Congratulations to the winners of our Blachere Christmas Lights Competition 2017, Combe Christmas, who finally saw their prize light up Ilfracombe at the end of November.
Charmain Lovatt, who entered the competition on behalf of the Combe Christmas Committee said that it seemed that most of north Devon turned up to see the lights being switched on!
She added that “once again, the whole event was fundraised and led by volunteers, so we are so chuffed at how fantastically it went and the new lights look amazing! We want to try and tackle the harbour area next so everyone is asking if we can enter the competition again next year! We can’t thank you guys and Blachere enough as the prize pot has really made such a huge difference to us.”
Charmain also said that the town has an incredible bunch of volunteer electricians who not only installed all of the Christmas lights for free, but they also took on the mammoth job of replacing all the existing “permanent” lights which belong to the town council. The town council couldn’t afford to do it, so a local group raised the money for the equipment and the team gave their time for free, going out in all weathers and times to complete the work in time for the light switch on. It is estimated that they saved the town somewhere in the region of £55,000!
CH1ChesterBID’s CheSTAR has returned to the city centre this year, and with it comes a photography competition where the lucky winner will bag £250 worth of vouchers
The dazzling CheSTAR is back in the city centre this Christmas and to celebrate its return, the city’s Business Improvement District, CH1ChesterBID, has launched a competition to find the best photograph of the giant sparkling star.
Standing 25ft high and 25ft wide, the star is based in the grounds of Chester Cathedral on St Werburgh Street and will be lighting up Chester city centre this festive season as part of CH1ChesterBID’s annual Christmas celebrations.
The show-stopping decoration features almost 19,000 twinkling lights and made its debut in Chester last year, after being handcrafted especially for the city to add to the festive illuminations.
To mark its return, between 16th November – 7th January, CH1ChesterBID is encouraging city visitors and local residents to snap their best photograph of the star and share it on Instagram or Twitter. The contest will be judged by the team at Camera Solutions on Frodsham Street and is open for anyone to enter.
The chosen winner will take home £250 of vouchers to use at Camera Solutions in Chester.
Judy Tagell, marketing manager at CH1ChesterBID, said: “We’re thrilled to see the CheSTAR make its stunning return to the city centre this year. It’s an eye-catching addition to our Christmas activities and we’re really excited to launch our new photography competition alongside it. The competition is open to photographers of all abilities so we’re really excited to see all the creative angles people will capture images of the CheSTAR from.”
To enter, simply take a picture of the CheSTAR and post it on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #CheSTAR and tag @CH1Chester on Twitter or @CH1ChesterBID on Instagram. Alternatively, entrants can also email their photograph to email@example.com.
Ray Fisher, owner of Camera Solutions, said: “We’re really excited to be working with CH1ChesterBID on a Christmas photography competition this year and we can’t wait to see all the entries. We’re looking for something unique for our winning shot, so we’d encourage people to be bold and creative with their photographs and come up with something that really stands out from the crowd.”
The winner will be announced by CH1ChesterBID on 19th January 2018.