IN just a week, a night market is opening in Warrington for the first time.

Warrington Market will be hosting ‘Foodie Thirstdays’ every Thursday evening before Christmas from 5pm to 8pm with street food, beer, Prosecco and live music. And that is just the beginning for the market which is seeking to reinvent itself as part of the Bridge Street plans.

As part of a chain of events that will bring about a £120million redevelopment, traders moved into a temporary market in September

Work is expected to be completed by the summer of 2020 when traders will move into their new permanent home – but a change in dynamic at the market is already afoot.

Paul Blaney, market operations manager, said: “The building we’re in now is contemporary and feels fresher. It’s definitely created a sense of camaraderie among traders and staff that wasn’t there before.

“I feel it’s a new beginning and there’s excitement and a bit more passion in the market whereas it was very difficult in the old market where it was a 1974 building that was falling down around our ears.

“This is setting the tone for the future. I think there’s a sense of ownership of this new market.

“The traders have all had the upheaval of moving from the old market to here in three days and there was no moaning. The spirit of the traders was unbelievable.”

Some traders have inevitably been lost in that process but Paul reckons the new businesses coming in are helping to create a new atmosphere, particularly around the food court.

The former Padgate High pupil added: “It’s a massive draw for the market. It’s probably not big enough to be honest as it’s often full. The new market will address that as it’s a much bigger space. We know the food offer is a draw for markets generally following the success of street markets, food festivals and farmers’ markets.

“These are things we’ve done in the past which have generated thousands of people to those events so we know there is a demand in food led activity.

“We’re about to open a pizza and pasta place and we’ve got a a couple of ideas we’re looking at such as the possibility of secret supper clubs and pop-up restaurants. There’s a guy who’s really into the vegan and vegetarian scene who’s looking at hosting a night as that’s not catered for very well in the area.

“We’re also in talks with a Jamaican guy about doing a Caribbean evening.”

The team also want the food court to be a community hub so they are looking at special events.

On Saturday, December 2, there will be a Lego extravaganza with models, masterclasses, kids’ activities, Lego shops and characters walking around.

And there is a Geeky Christmas Market on December 16.

Paul said: “That is a nod to Warrington Comic Con. We know that has been successful so this is focusing on geeky and unusual Christmas presents.”

Warrington Market’s grotto with Santa and his little helpers from Warrington Disability Partnership will also run every day between 11am and 4pm from Saturday, December 2.

The aim is to attract people of all ages, interests and backgrounds to the market.

The first major outdoor event next year will be an art, photography and craft market in the spring. Other activities being considered for 2018 are a monthly artisan market, vinyl record fair, craft beer festival and a wedding fair.

Paul, who has worked at the council for 18 years, added: “We know that markets need to be about leisure time and an experience other than just being retail led. We need to look at other ways of attracting an audience. We want to develop a market offer and have that experience that Altrincham has got at the moment.

“It has a very social feel because you don’t go in and out. You take some time there.

“Some of the initiatives we’re looking to develop are being done directly with our traders.

“Liverpool Cheese Company is looking to do a cheese school and that’s going to attract a different audience to the market.

“We’re also in talks with Andrew’s Fish, Game and Poultry. He’s looking to do things like oysters and Prosecco. It’s just about raising the game and changing it up.

“We need to move with the times and the facility we’ve got here – although it’s temporary for two and half years or so – you wouldn’t think that by looking at it. The feedback we’re getting from the public is positive.

“The traders are much happier. They’re doing much better business since we’ve been here.

“A lot of the traders are sole traders and they already work six days a week so we can’t expect them to work until 10pm every night but we need to look at how we can meet customers who are not available 9am to 5pm because they’re working.

“We’re jumping on the popularity of street markets and the street food offer that we’ve seen in various other towns and has been quite big in Manchester. Belfast has also got a superb twilight market. It’s pretty spectacular what they’re doing there.

“If people aren’t going to come to the market traditionally let’s bring it to them and provide something a little bit different.”

For more information about market events click here.