Despite the year's challenges, there were some real highlights in the town centre in 2021. After a long lockdown, the town centre reopened to visitors in April, and we made sure it was cleaned and awash with colour as part of our Colour Your Senses campaign to welcome visitors, our businesses and their staff back to Kingston. In reopening week footfall in the town centre surpassed 2019 levels as people enjoyed new found freedoms! We even created an animation to remind people what they might have missed in Kingston, teaming up with talented Kingston University art and design students.
Over summer, new Social Spaces in the form of greenery and seating were installed to provide spaces to stop and relax in nature, with colourful flowers and planting to encourage biodiversity. We also installed a pop-up Kingston Beach sandpit which proved popular with families heading there to play in the Market Place. Our Thumbs Up Its Thursday programme saw free fabulous kids' activities put on by Bentalls, Cass Art, John Lewis, All Saints Church, Kingston Library, Busaba, Escape Hunt, The Rotunda and Eden Walk. The events will return during the Easter Holidays 2022.
The most magical season in Kingston wrapped a difficult year to a close, with the Christmas Market, decorations, lights and festivities creating a wonderful, buzzing festive atmosphere throughout late November and December. The town centre looked beautiful, and the Christmas Market with its live music programme saw lots of visitors turn up to enjoy the merriment. We'll miss the smell of the Bratwurst grill and mulled wine filling the air in the Market Place, which looks very empty now all the cabins, Pyramid Bar and stage have been packed away!
We're already planning what 2022 will bring, with a new brand and website for Kingston, Thumbs Up Its Thursday fun, and an exciting Summer programme to name but a few things we are working on. We're also looking forward to significant improvements to the public realm, with the riverside regeneration project and Happy Spaces design works being progressed in 2022, aiming to deliver a stronger town centre experience for everyone to enjoy. Check out the Eagle Brewery Wharf artist interpretation below.
Here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead!