Tills to ring in tandem with sleigh bells as council ditches switch-on for extended festive programme

William Smith

Reporter:

William Smith

Email:

william.smith@tyronecon.co.uk

IT IS hoped that tills will be ringing in tandem with sleigh bells this festive period as council opts for an extended programme of Christmas events instead of the usual grand switch-on.

The surprise move by Fermanagh and Omagh District council will see a seasonal programme of activities, which according to a council spokesperson, will better support the local economy and position the area as a place to visit this Christmas.

And while some may be disappointed that Omagh hasn't followed suit with other towns to offer a showpiece switch-on event for a second year running, retailers and traders are happy that the new direction could inject some much needed Christmas-cheer into their festive takings.

The programme of seasonal activities comes at a time when many retailers are still dealing with the impact of various lockdowns this year and last. In December 2020, retailers were all but closed due to Coronavirus, save for a short window for trading. But with the shops remaining open this year, and the council's planned season progamme coinciding

with the extension of the executive's High Street Voucher Scheme, retailers are hoping for a welcome seasonal boost.

According to Martin Woodhead, proprietor of Active 2 sporting goods on Market Street, the extended Christmas programme will be "beneficial" for town centre retailers.

"I have been speaking to a number fellow retailers and to be honest, we are all happy that the programme is going to extended over a number of weekends rather than a single switch-on event.

"The switch-on brought with it issues for the town centre, as the town was always blocked off for the best part of a day meaning increased traffic, which often resulted in loss of trade. There are no negatives with the new direction as far as I can see."

In addition, the likes of Bogues Jewellers, 1983, Bogan's Bar and Milan clothing have also sounded their support for the council's extended Christmas events.

Speaking on the upcoming seasonal activites, a spokesperson from Fermanagh and Omagh District Council said: "The Christmas lights switch-on event will not take place this year. Instead, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has opted for an of seasonal activities as part of the Christmas Lights Festival which opens on Saturday, November 20.

"The Christmas programme includes town centre entertainment every Friday evening and Saturday afternoon in the lead up to Christmas. This approach will provide a full programme of family-friendly activities including the spectacular Christmas lights shows delivering a safe, positive Christmas experience to residents of the district.

"It is anticipated that the Christmas Lights Festival and extensive seasonal programme of activities will better support the local economy over the Christmas period to enhance the offer and better position the area as a place to visit and enjoy over the festive s

"The council is also providing support to event organisers to deliver Christmas events that add to the Fermanagh and Omagh Christmas experience."

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