The Ripon City Development column with Alan Weston

Last years Ripon Switch-On event.
Last years Ripon Switch-On event.

Listening to the radio on the drive into work, there has been much discussion about the economics of Christmas: the Christmas advertisements on the television, national retail performance and speculation about when the sales might begin.

This focus is because the Christmas trading period from mid-November to the end of December is such a crucial time of the year for the retail and hospitality sectors with often as much as 20% of annual sales being generated in these six weeks of the year.

For Ripon this means that attracting footfall and encouraging people to shop locally is especially important at this time of year.

We are fortunate to have a large number of independent businesses in the city, and many of the High Street national retailers offer click and collect services.

This means you can get unique gifts and popular items without leaving the city centre.

The work of the city development team is focused on this period too. We lead on the organisation of events such as the Christmas Lights Switch-On event and the Ripon Christmas Market.

If a single event can attract people into the city centre, then a number of events taking place in close proximity will attract even more, and encourage them to shop, eat, drink and explore whilst they are here.

We therefore work with others to focus on particular days, especially Saturdays, to have the maximum effect.

We support other events too, promoting them through our Discover Ripon Christmas Events Guide and our Discover Ripon website and social media feeds.

With enough notice events can be included in our printed promotional materials, but otherwise we use our on-line channels to publicise any events we know about.

This year, more than ever, there is a great deal happening in the city during Christmas, with several new events alongside the traditional ones.

Not all of these are economically driven; there is of course another important part of Christmas and many events are driven by raising money for good causes and community organisations.

Our Carols Around the Christmas Tree event is an opportunity for a community sing-a-long, with a number of local organisations leading the singing and performing some of their favourite carols.

Further details of all the events in and around Ripon can be found on the Discover Ripon website: www.discoverripon.org/events but here are some of those taking place in the next couple of weeks or so:

Thursday 23 November – Late Night Shopping until 8pm with various offers after 5pm in participating shops and eateries.

Friday 24 November to Saturday 2 December – Allhallowgate Church Star Search with around 200 stars to find in 60 participating businesses.

Friday 24 November – 7:30pm – A fundraising event for Allhallowgate Church with entertainment from the Highside Singers. Admission fees apply.

Saturday 25 November –9:30am to 4:30pm – Ripon Cathedral Food and Gift Fair with over 100 stalls and musical entertainment in the Cathedral and the Old Deanery. Admission fees apply.

4pm to 6pm – Christmas Lights Switch On with music and entertainment.

Friday 1 December to Sunday 3 December– Various opening times – Allhallowgate Church Star Fest.

Saturday 2 December – 10am to 3pm – Scuba Diving for All’s Santa’s Grotto in Ripon Town Hall. Admission fees apply.

10am to 4pm – Ripon Christmas Market on Ripon Market Place.

7:30pm to 9:30pm – The Spirit of Christmas Carol Concert in Ripon Cathedral. Admission fees apply.

Sunday 3 December – 3pm to 7pm – Ripon Canal Christmas Market in aid of Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Friday 8 December to Sunday 10 December – 10am to 4pm – Christmas Tree Festival at St Wilfrid’s RC Church.

Saturday 9 December – 2pm to 4pm – Carols around the Christmas Tree.