Victorian Christmas weekend busiest-ever for downtown Charlottetown

More people than ever attended the Victorian Christmas weekend in downtown Charlottetown, including an outdoor marketplace, classic Christmas movies at City Cinema, carollers and free horse and carriage rides, say organizers.

Charlottetown Mall also had 'tremendous success' with Black Friday weekend

P.E.I.'s only outdoor Christmas market in Charlottetown. (Discover Charlottetown/Facebook )

More people than ever attended the Victorian Christmas weekend in downtown Charlottetown, including an outdoor marketplace, classic Christmas movies at City Cinema, carollers and free horse and carriage rides, say organizers.

This was the second year Discover Charlottetown hosted the event, and executive director Heidi Zinn says although they didn't count heads, she estimates about 5,000 people took in the event — more than double last year's, which experienced heavy rain.

"It was an incredible success," said Zinn. "The weather couldn't have cooperated better." Sunshine and mild temperatures most of Friday, Saturday and Sunday meant people travelled from further afield. 

Vendors in the outdoor marketplace sold more product than last year, Zinn said. 

And in partnership with downtown hotels, Discover Charlottetown sold about 100 hotel packages, compared to about 45 last year. The packages included extras like breakfast with Santa, tickets to the Christmas movies and gift certificates for meals at downtown restaurants. 

Discover Charlottetown worked with city officials to hold this year's event at the same time as the annual Christmas tree lighting and Santa Claus Parade. Zinn also coordinated dates with another large craft fair in Charlottetown.

'We had it all'

Downtown Charlottetown Inc. (DCI), which works to promote business in the city core, was thrilled with what officials called a "great show of support for local retail."

Charlottetown's Christmas-tree lighting ceremony brought many people downtown, who then dropped by the outdoor market and shopped at downtown retailers. (Charlottetown — Great Things Happen Here)

"We had it all including support from mother nature who delivered awesome weather," said DCI's Dawn Alan.

DCI's second annual sale of Downtown Dollars, which are like buy-local gift certificates, saw $25,000 sold in only one hour on Friday, Alan said, noting customers already spent thousands of those dollars downtown over the weekend.
 
"Clustering events in the downtown always has a huge impact on services and retail and this weekend of celebration was no exception," Alan said. 

Organizers plan to make sure Christmas events in the city are held on the same weekend again next year.

"I think there's a lot of opportunity for this event to continue to grow, especially when we see how much Farm Day has grown in the last 10 years," Zinn said. 

'Significant amount of traffic'

And it wasn't just downtown Charlottetown — the Charlottetown Mall said business was up there, too. 

"This past Black Friday was a tremendous success for Charlottetown Mall, which saw a significant amount of traffic compared to Black Friday 2016," said Susan Campbell, property manager for RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust.

"Canadian Black Friday events are growing in popularity, with our retailers expanding this year's events from one day to throughout the weekend and beyond."

New retailers including H&M and Urban Planet helped draw shoppers to the mall, Campbell added. 

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca