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Why Hull is a popular Christmas shopping destination

14:25 06 December 2015

The City Hall in Queen Victoria Square, Hull bathed in Christmas lights Photo by Lee Beel

The City Hall in Queen Victoria Square, Hull bathed in Christmas lights Photo by Lee Beel

Lee Beel Photography

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in East Yorkshire’s capital of culture. Words by Jo Haywood

Christmas lights switch on and fireworks display at the City Hall in Queen Victoria Square, Hull Photo by Lee BeelChristmas lights switch on and fireworks display at the City Hall in Queen Victoria Square, Hull Photo by Lee Beel

Hull’s Christmas stocking of festive events is so packed this year there’s barely enough room for a satsuma.

From the Christmas lights switch-on to the big day itself (and beyond into the seemingly never-ending New Year sales), there’s a packed programme of events so chock-a-block with festive cheer people will probably start spontaneously sprouting elf ears.

‘There’s something happening in Hull every weekend in the run-up to Christmas,’ said Kathryn Shillito, city centre manager for Hull BID (Business Improvement District), which works with local businesses, the council, the civic society and the chamber of trade, to encourage growth and enhance the prosperity of the city.

‘People can, of course, choose to visit places like Meadowhall and York, but for the real spirit of the season, Hull is hard to beat.’

St Stephens Shopping CentreSt Stephens Shopping Centre

Christmas and the New Year are important times for the city’s retailers, particularly now that the New Year sales extend right until the end of January. As Kathryn explained: ‘They put the meat on the bones to get them through the leaner times.’

But the festive season is not just about shopping. It’s about bringing people together for fun, frivolity and furtive chats with Father Christmas about what might (or might not) be waiting under the tree for you on December 25th.

Excitement is already building in the city and will undoubtedly reach fever pitch by mid-December but, after the festive peak, is there an inevitable come-down – a post-Christmas anti-climax that sees Hull going from ‘ho-ho’ to ‘ho-hum’?

‘February can feel a bit quiet,’ said Kathryn. ‘But, to be honest, we’re already looking forward to another packed calendar of events in 2016, starting with Hull Fashion Week in May, which gives the city a massive boost every year.

Last year's Christmas lights switch on and fireworks display at the City Hall in Hull Photo by Lee BeelLast year's Christmas lights switch on and fireworks display at the City Hall in Hull Photo by Lee Beel

‘And, of course, preparations for our year as the City of Culture in 2017 are well underway. Not a day goes by when there aren’t discussions happening and collaborations developing. There’s a constant drip-feed of excitement.’

Hull aims to build a solid calendar of events next year, gradually rising to a crescendo in 2017, when the city will take its place at the centre of the cultural map.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. There are still two Christmases to enjoy before East Yorkshire’s capital dons its cultural crown. So, let’s return to the twinkly delights of this year’s festivities.

‘I can honestly say it’s going to be amazing,’ said Kathryn. ‘I go to all our Christmas events and especially love Santa’s Parade because it adds to my own personal sense of excitement.’

Talking of which, what will she be doing on Christmas Day? Planning next year’s parade or grabbing as much sleep as she can before 2016 dawns and she has to do it all again?

‘My own Christmas is very traditional and very family-orientated,’ she said. ‘I’ll be cooking for 12, including my parents and my children, then sitting on the sofa, relaxing with a cat on my lap watching a good film. I can’t wait.’

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