90,000 visitors for this year’s Lancaster on Ice, as city bucks national footfall trend

Around 90,000 people visited Lancaster on Ice this year, which organisers say has defied their wildest expectations.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 11:02 am
Lancaster on Ice. Photo by Nick Dagger Photography.

The city centre in general also saw a visitor boost over the Christmas and New Year period, bucking the national trend and “increasing consumer confidence” in what Lancaster has to offer, according to Lancaster BID.

Lancaster on Ice - an ice rink in Dalton Square which this year saw the addition of a 35m high big wheel visible from all over the city, was hailed a huge success.

The event pulled in 20,000 more visitors than last year, who also came to enjoy Christmas markets, food stalls and a tipi bar in Dalton Square.

The big wheel in Dalton Square

The ice rink opened on November 23 until January 5, with the arrival of Europe’s largest portable observation wheel on December 12.

Lancaster on Ice organiser Martin Horner, who also runs The Borough pub, said: “The success of Lancaster on Ice this year defied even our wildest expectations.

“The square looked absolutely magical, especially at night, just like the Christmas wonderland we dreamed of.

“Anyone visiting Lancaster over the Christmas period couldn’t fail to notice it, and it provided the rink and city centre with a stunning iconography that undoubtedly helped draw in visitors from far and wide.”

Picture by Julian Brown 24/11/19 Lancaster Christmas Lights Switch On

In Lancaster city centre, December showed an increase in footfall of 3.9 per cent compared to the previous year, and compared to the national average figure of a decline of 3.6 per cent for the same month.

Christmas week saw an increase in footfall of 12.4 per cent, with the weekend of December 14 and 15 being the busiest December weekend in the city centre for three years and December 14 showing an increase in footfall of 25.4 per cent.

Tom Fyson, Lancaster BID Development Manager, said: “We are delighted with the footfall results for the end of 2019 in Lancaster city centre.

“The figures demonstrate increasing consumer confidence in what the city centre has to offer and are pointing towards the start of a longer term positive trend.

Picture by Julian Brown 24/11/19 Some of the lights Lancaster Christmas Lights Switch On

“The impressive redevelopment of Lancaster Castle and the large numbers of students living in new city centre accommodation are also likely to have helped support further increases in city centre footfall.”

The big increase in footfall for December 14 and 15 coincided with the Christmas at The Castle weekend, Meet the Makers Craft Fair in St Nics and the opening of the big wheel at Lancaster On Ice.

Footfall for the whole of Quarter 4 of 2019 showed an increase of 1.6 per cent showcasing a longer term positive trend for the city centre, with national figures showing a continued decline during the same period.

Mr Fyson added: “Although it is impossible to confirm precise reasons for the upward trend, we believe a number of factors have helped increase city centre footfall.

Picture by Julian Brown 24/11/19 The lights are switched on Lancaster Christmas Lights Switch On

“Flagship events certainly provide a significant footfall boost, with highlights including the return of Lancaster Music Festival last October, Light Up Lancaster and Christmas Lights Switch On in November and Lancaster On Ice, with the exciting addition of the Viewing Wheel.

“Lancaster BID will continue to monitor city centre footfall throughout 2020 to measure the longer term trends.

“2020 is already off to an impressive start with an increase of +5.8 per cent recorded in the first week of the New Year.’

With development well underway to bring the former BHS premises on Market Street back into business use, and an impressive events programme being finalised for the whole of 2020, things certainly seem to be on the up for Lancaster city centre, he added.