ORGANISERS of a Christmas festival say there are many positives to take from the event despite some issues including the impact of Covid-19.

David Hill, CEO of E3 Events, said while it is important to acknowledge issues the event faced in its first year, such as the pandemic, "there were also massive positives".

His words come amid calls from the Brighton and Hove Conservatives to move the event from Valley Gardens to Madeira Drive, after concerns about whether the gardens are suitable for major events during winter.

Mr Hill highlighted that more than 80 traders took part in the festival, with 62 based in Brighton or within Sussex, as well as over 131,000 visitors to the main market site and 14,341 tickets to shows at the festival's apres ski zone, with 10,123 tickets sold for their production of The Elves Save Christmas.

He said: "These numbers show an incredible amount of support from the public, both residents of the city and others living further afield.

"We learnt that the family shows for children attracted the highest numbers. We produced a brand-new show for families and children, with all the weekend shows completely sold out."

Mr Hill also said that the festival's Santa's grotto, a first for the city, was sold out by December 14.

He said: "The company we used to run the grotto said they had never seen such strong advance ticket sales. We sold 2,214 tickets before the grotto even opened."

The festival also featured two free community chalets every day, taken up by local charities, which accommodated 58 charities and community groups over five weeks.

The Starr Trust was one Brighton charity who used the chalets in the community celebration square.

Chairman and founder Rob Starr said: "I want to say how grateful we were for the help and support of the festival at this continued difficult time.

"We rely on local businesses and friends to enable us to maintain and grow our profile locally, as well as raising much needed funds for the young people we help.

"Being offered time at the community celebration square was a lovely surprise and so very welcome.

"Because of this, we have been able to make new friends and further raise our profile, which is so important to us.

"To include a true community space and allow small charities such as ours to take part is truly within the Christmas spirit."

During the festival's five-weeks, several local and national celebrities, including Anita Dobson, Robin Cousins, and Dame Kelly Holmes, visited the event.

The festival secured 15 sponsors, including local businesses and national brands, with five committing £10,000 or more.

Mr Hill said he was confident that more companies will back the festival for this year's event.

"All in all, we produced some cracking numbers, which only serve to highlight the massive potential this festival has going forward," he said.

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