Dundee Matters: Time to create a new Winter Wonderland

© DC ThomsonA stunning Christmas display at Dundee City Square. But is Dundee capitalising on the opportunities offered by the festive season?
A stunning Christmas display at Dundee City Square. But is Dundee capitalising on the opportunities offered by the festive season?

It is a hoary old chestnut. But why is Dundee so Grinch-like when it comes to celebrating the festive season?

The Ethical Christmas Fair returned to City Square in December. I’d rather it hadn’t.
It was about as Christmassy as Bondai Beach at the height of surf season.

I actually visited on two occasions – the second only to confirm that I’d not just been in an unseasonal grump when I visited first-time around.

© DC Thomson
Little donkey: A seasonal visitor to the Ethical Christmas market in Dundee’s City Square.

If anything it was worse. You could cut what atmosphere there was with a knife.

There was no Christmas music playing, the stalls were offering such festive treats as film posters printed on blocks of wood and the opportunity to sponsor an animal and there was what appeared to be an abandoned Grotto in the far corner.

The festive ‘fun’ stopped at 6pm sharp and, to put the tin-lid on it, Dundee’s celebration of Christmas was all packed up and away three days before the Big Day.

Compare and contrast that with Edinburgh – a city known the world over for its festivals and which has turned Christmas into a major money-spinner in its own right.

© Getty
The Edinburgh Christmas Markets welcome tens of thousands of visitors each year

Over six weeks, tens of thousands of visitors come from far and wide to enjoy (Christmas-themed) Christmas markets, light displays, skating rinks and entertainment.

Anecdotally I know of at least a dozen Dundonians who headed to the capital over the past month or so to for the sole purpose of soaking up the festive ambience.

And, crucially, they were all ready and willing to open their wallets and purses whilst doing so.

It is run as a business by Underbelly – they close at 10pm to capture the night-time economy – and, boy, does it work.

© Getty
Customers at the Christmas Market in Edinburgh.

Surely it would be worthwhile for the powers-that-be in Dundee to have the conversation to see if a similar experience could be brought to the city without eating into the council coffers?

Slessor Gardens was the venue for Sleep In The Park  but very little else in December.

Perhaps it could be the beating heart of the Christmas 2019 celebrations and hopefully keep Dundonians – and their cash – a little closer to home this coming Yuletide.

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