Was Tinseltown festival ‘best family Christmas attraction’?

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TINSELTOWN – the Christmas festival held in Castletown on three weekends in December – attracted an estimated 6,400 people to the town said organiser Colin Leather this week.

Mr Leather, who is a commissioners and chairman of the events committee, gave fellow commissioners a rundown of the festival.

Visitor numbers were down on those in 2010, when 7,000 came to the first Tinseltown event, but Mr Leather said this reflected the economic times.

He explained that this year there were 2,114 people who used the Santa steam trains and looked round the castle, where Santa held court, and an estimated 1,136 looked round the Speaker’s Garden, which was decorated as a winter scene. Around 2,200 people attended the Christmas tree lights switch-on. The busiest day was Saturday, December 17.

The festival was held on December 3 and 4, 10 and 11 and 17.

The festival provoked controversy and some traders complained it ran for too long and ate into their business on the busiest weekends of the year. One said takings were down by 64 per cent compared with the same time in 2009. Another said the problem was customers couldn’t park nearby as the square was closed to cars.

However, Mr Leather said a leaflet listing shops, pubs and restaurants in the town and handed out to those boarding the special Tinseltown trains had successfully guided visitors around town.

He discussed the festival with traders on the Monday after the festival had finished and found: ‘Without doubt the gift shops and catering establishments did very well,’ he said.

The market stalls, previously in the square, were moved to the car park by the Civic Centre at the request of the town’s Chamber of Commerce and, as a result, several stall-holders did not attend and those that did said business was ‘well down’ on 2010. There were comments that the square lacked atmosphere as a result.

Mr Leather thanked the many people involved in making Tinseltown happen and said members of the public’s comments suggested this was ‘the island’s best family Christmas attraction’.

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