The traders of Bicester have high expectations ahead of a busy Christmas period as a councillor says it is vital to encourage shoppers from outside the town.

Pubs, restaurants, bakeries and retail stores in and around the town centre are making Christmas plans and dreaming up offers to entice as many shoppers into their custom as possible this festive season.

With many traders seeing this period as a great opportunity, the Bicester Advertiser caught up with them to see what lies ahead.

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Kieran O’Brien, general manager of The Nightingale, a pub in Nightingale Place, said: “We’ve had an amazing time so far.

“We started advertising in August for Christmas with an early bird flyer. Which gets people a free glass of prosecco with their Christmas dinner.

“We’ve got nearly 800 Christmas dinners booked in over the whole festive period. Ironically, it doesn’t cause any extra strain, because having Christmas dinners is easier than making lots of different meals on the menu.”

Mr O’Brien has been bringing in lots of local music talent to get folks into the Christmas spirit.

He added: “We have live entertainment every Saturday night. We had Sledgehammer, a well-known rock cover band in recently, and sold 90 Christmas dinners in one night.”

The enthusiastic manager said there were no negatives to increased footfall, claiming that this time of year is a great chance for those not from Bicester to come to the pub and enjoy themselves.

The general manager of The Penny Black, a Wetherspoons pub in Sheep Street, is also expecting things to pick up.

She said: “We’ll definitely be getting a lot busier over the next few weeks. We’ll have more staff on, but everybody’s used to it, so it’s no strain.”

Other, independent businesses have been rustling up Christmas food especially for the season, as well as fundraising.

Aly Clifton, who owns Bicester Bean Coffee Shop and Cafe, said: “Life is bonkers with the café and Christmas catering and my famous Christmas afternoon teas.

“Our lovely Santa – who used to be a regular customer – comes all the way from Lincolnshire to do a meet and greet with kids here.

“They have their photo taken and they love it. I’ve raised £539 for the Hummingbird Centre so far.”

Bicester town councillor Tom Beckett believes the festive period is an important time to attract people from outside the town.

He said: “In talking to people as a councillor there is a strong desire for Bicester centre to be thriving.

"Most would like to have a greater diversity of shops. To do this it is vital we encourage people from outside our town to shop here.

“The recent Christmas Fair, turning on the Christmas lights and remembrance Sunday brought people from villages around to come together in the Bicester market area, like they would have done in days gone past, to come together as a wider community.

I know Bicester Green, for whom I am a trustee, has benefitted from this inflow of shoppers and I think it should be encouraged.”

Bicester Village were approached but said the relevant team was not available for comment.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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