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Huge success of trial will see artisan markets held each month in two Co Down towns

Markets to be held 10 months a year with themed events for Hallowe'en and Christmas

Special artisan markets will now become a regular feature in two Co Down towns following the success of a pilot project.

As Armagh I reported in January, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council gave the nod for these markets to be trialled in the spring time.

The first took place in Downpatrick in April and then the next in Newcastle in May.

At Downpatrick, 17 local food and craft producers turned out. The market attracted 1154 visitors.

An evaluation of the event said the feedback had been “very encouraging”.

It was staged within the courtyard at Down County Museum with staff there saying they witnessed their “highest attendance figures for a Saturday to date”.

Newcastle was also very popular; held at the Plaza at the Newcastle Centre, it hosted again 19 food and craft producers. Indeed, the event was actually over-subscribed, with further traders requesting a stall.

Visitor numbers were on a par with Downpatrick and “very positive” feedback was noted, with stall holders on the day requesting pitches at future markets.

Given the success of both, it has now been recommended that they be extended.

The analysis of the trial will be presented to NMD Council’s enterprise, regeneration and tourism committee which is due to meet on Monday.

Officers will recommend that the markets will be repeated on a monthly basis for 10 months of the year.

January and February would be the only two months when markets are not scheduled, while themed events – based around Hallowe’en and Christmas – could be held in October and December.

Steering committees had previously been established in each town for the pilot, which include council officers, traders and a local delivery agent, and these would continue to be responsible for future markets.

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