Christmas market and beer garden to open in Merchant City

A Christmas market and beer garden are opening in the Merchant City this month.

The Christmas market will open later this month.

Organisers behind the Festival Village venue at Candleriggs Square have been handed occasional licences to sell alcohol over the Christmas period.

The Winter Garden Festival Village will include some traders who lost out when the George Square Christmas markets were cancelled, the city’s Licensing Board was told.

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On the corner of Candleriggs and Wilson Street, the site has previously operated under occasional licences, including when pandemic restrictions eased in summer last year.

Stephen McGowan, representing the company, said the venue will open between 11am to 10pm from Thursday to Sunday across the remainder of November and December.

He added: “We’ve slightly tweaked the applications to allow for a couple of extra days trading in the Christmas week itself.

“That’s a shorter pattern of trading in comparison with the use of the space earlier in the year, when your honours issued licences for seven days a week.”

Mr McGowan said the organisers wanted occasional licences to “allow the space to reopen as a re-branded winter festive market, with food and drink facilities”.

He added there have been no public objections to the licence applications.

“The proposal is to trade the space over the Christmas period as a winter market,” he said. “In the new year, the space would close down.

“I think it’s probably unlikely my clients would want to seek any use of the space again until perhaps nearer the Easter time.”

Following the cancellation of George Square’s Christmas market, traders approached Festival Village to ask whether a festive venue was opening, Mr McGowan told the Licensing Board.

“Many of the traders that were hoping to make use of that space were able to be moved to St Enoch’s, but St Enoch’s is obviously a much smaller space and some of them weren’t,” he explained.

Christmas songs will be able to be played at the venue after a request from the organisers. They had been banned under a condition of the licences but the application asked for it to be removed.

Mr McGowan said: “It is essential for my client that they have the ability to have background, ambient festive music, to allow them to play festive songs across the period.

“We do need to insist upon that. We need to be able to attract people out in the colder, darker months.”

The Licensing Board previously raised concerns over the repeated use of occasional licences at the Festival Village site, and Mr McGowan confirmed a premises licence is now being pursued.

The organisers have secured consent to use the land until at least September 2022 as the developer who owns the site has been “significantly impacted by supply issues”.

It is part of a wider site, the former Goldberg’s department store, where there is permission to build a hotel and homes in the long-term.

A retrospective application for temporary permission to use the land for food and drink kiosks, seating areas and stages is currently under consideration by the council, with the applicant expecting a decision soon.