Festival-style markets help boost footfall in east Suffolk towns

Saturday Rewind took centre stage in Lowestoft.

Saturday Rewind took centre stage in Lowestoft. - Credit: Adam Barnes

A series of mini-festivals in east Suffolk towns have been hailed as a success, which organisers now planning for the next phase of the scheme.

With four festival-style markets helping to encourage footfall in recent weeks in Beccles, Lowestoft, Saxmundham and Leiston, they were successfully held as part of First Light Market Place project.

Live music from Little Red Kings at Saturday Rewind in Lowestoft.

Live music from Little Red Kings at Saturday Rewind in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

Live music, vibrant arts and a vintage market were showcased as 'Saturday Rewind' - a pop-up street market - hit Lowestoft on March 19.

DanceEast Kick Start Dancers performing Lowestoft Saturday Rewind

DanceEast Kick Start Dancers performing on London Road North in Lowestoft as part of Saturday Rewind. - Credit: Mick Howes

Spring markets were held in Beccles on March 12 and Leiston on March 26, with a successful Christmas market taking place in Saxmundham at the beginning of December.

Now First Light CIC are planning for phase two this autumn, after the success of the Market Place project, supported by East Suffolk Council.

Established to demonstrate how innovative curated markets can support the economic health of towns, First Light said that of the visitors surveyed at the events 54pc said that the event was the sole reason for visiting the town centre that day while 87pc agreed the the festival-style events would encourage them to visit towns they wouldn’t normally visit.

Figures also showed that 80pc said that regular monthly events/markets would encourage them to visit the towns more often in the future.

One Lowestoft trader said: “It would be great to think that events like this could be a regular feature in Lowestoft’s calendar."

A Beccles trader added: “We would love to see other events like this take place in Beccles, it certainly brought excitement and cheer to our community."

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Genevieve Christie, one of First Light Festival’s CIC directors, said: “We’re excited to see the difference these markets have made to the towns which took part in phase one of the MarketPlace project.

"We’re very much looking forward to delivering a further number of events this autumn as part of phase two of the project.”

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk Council’s deputy leader

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development and assets. - Credit: Mick Howes

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development and assets, said: “I’m really pleased to have been able to support these festival-style markets in four of our towns.

"It’s extremely encouraging to know that such a high percentage of visitors felt inspired to return in the future.

“It’s crucial that we support those businesses that were so adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic."