Brighton Christmas Festival organisers are happy to discuss the best location for next event after concerns raised about noise and muddy lawns
The festival organisers said there were many positives to the first event and the council has said it will be taking feedback into account.
The company behind the Brighton Christmas Festival has responded to calls for the event to be relocated to Madeira Drive for 2022.
E3 Events won a three-year contract from the city council to run the festival with the first opened on November 26, 2021, for five weeks in Valley Gardens and Old Steine Gardens.
Figures from E3 Events revealed there was a total of 131,224 visitors to the main market site, more than 10,000 went to see Santa in his grotto and more than 10,000 tickets were sold for The Elves Save Christmas show. At the market, 81 traders took part, 62 of which are based in the city or within Sussex, and 58 local charities and community groups took part in the Community Celebration Square.
However, this week Brighton and Hove Conservatives said the festival should be moved away from Valley Gardens and Old Steine Gardens in future years, after the maiden event 'caused upset to local residents and left the whole area as a muddy quagmire'.
Conservative tourism spokesperson Cllr Dee Simson said: “The council needs to listen to local residents in the area who have had five torrid weeks of thumping music disrupting their sleep. Concerns about the noise raised by the local Old Steine Community Association during the Festival were not heeded by the council, leaving residents frustrated.
“Now, to make matters work, the historic gardens that run through the Valley Gardens precinct have been left in a dreadful state and will take a massive amount of repair work if they are to recover for the summer. It is such a shame to see these historic parks in an even worse state than they were during the summer after other events."
Happy to learn lessons
David Hill, CEO of E3 Events, said: "I understand the current high level of interest in Brighton Christmas Festival, including a suggestion we should move venue for 2022.
"I think it is important that while we acknowledge the challenges we faced for the first year like Covid, there were also massive positives.
"We faced a series of challenges in 2021, which we managed to overcome, but I have already said we are happy to learn lessons, having listened to various groups and individuals.
"We are happy to engage in positive conversations regarding the best location for this year."
A city council spokesman said: "The council always seeks to balance a successful city centre events programme with the views of residents, and we listen carefully to feedback.
“Plans for reinstating the parkland affected by events are always included in our permissions for events to go ahead, and remediation from the Christmas festival is underway.
“Grassy areas that become muddy or dry out are given time to grow back. Obviously this is a gradual process, particularly at this time of year.
“The organisers of the Christmas Festival event had a noise management plan agreed with our environmental health team. This took into account the location and surrounding residences. The organisers took noise meter readings throughout the event, each night on agreed points around the site.
“Noise levels were closely managed and we found no evidence that agreed volume levels were exceeded."
Calling for the festival to be relocated, Cllr Simson added: "The city already has a suitable ‘ready-made’ space for a Christmas festival along Madeira Drive and this would be a much better location to hold it in future years. This ideal space would connect with the Pier to create a much better environment for the Christmas festivities.
“The Conservatives will be raising this matter at this week’s meeting of the tourism, equalities, communities and Culture Committee on Thursday, January 13 and will be asking the council to review the location for 2022 and beyond."
The council spokesman added: “After what was a challenging year for everyone in the city, we’ve been pleased to see a new winter event attract footfall and interest. Councillors granted permission for a Christmas Festival on a three-year basis. We will be reviewing the success of this first event in due course, taking into account feedback from the event organisers and residents.”
David from E3 Events said the numbers of visitors showed the incredible amount of support from the public for the festival. The Santa's Grotto was sold out by December 14 with 2,214 tickets sold before it even opened.
David said he was also delighted to secure 15 sponsors and said the feedback to offers of free community chalets at the market for charities and inviting unsung heroes to turn on the festival lights each night was 'incredibly positive'.
He added: "We are happy to work with the council – and indeed the wider community – to make the Brighton Christmas Festival 2022 the huge success I am sure it will be."