Christmas Tree Wonderland- Dorset Tourism Association Networking Event
They say good things come to those who wait and this must have felt like an eternity for everyone involved in bringing the idea of Christmas Tree Wonderland to life. Delivering a talk at Hot Rocks, Bournemouth for a Dorset Tourism Association networking event, Jon Weaver (Head of Resort Marketing & Events Bournemouth and Poole Tourism (Bournemouth Borough Council)) detailed the hard work and dedication that him and his team has put in to formulating an event of this enormity. Jon was captivating in his own humble manner, underselling the meticulous planning and man hours that he himself has dedicated to this project for a number of years.
There was one huge challenge facing Jon and his team; how can they make Bournemouth a top Christmas destination when it doesn’t have the capability for a highly competitive Christmas market? Surrounding areas such as Winchester, Salisbury and Southampton have been running some of the UK’s finest Christmas markets for many years and have been increasing footfall within the locations every festive period. The question that then arose was ‘what is Bournemouth’s unique selling point (USP)?’’. The answer was then quickly realised, what Bournemouth does have is a beautiful garden trail running from the commercial town square straight to the beachfront; the perfect festive USP.
During his talk Jon explained how the whole dynamic of Christmas within towns has fundamentally changed over recent years with tourists now anting experiential trips instead of the best shopping destination. Providing an experience can create a greater sense of community and local pride, this therefore became the primary objective in order to make Bournemouth a competitive Christmas destination. Christmas Tree Wonderland was the idea that was created, a magical prospect that combined both the distinctive USP and the growing trend towards experiential tourism. It was important for large forces to come together and provide the correct funding and support so that the trees could be implemented across the town centre. Both the Town Centre Bid and Coastal Bid have been crucial in providing the necessary tools, along with a number other providers such as the Mogul’s Ice Rink and Bar, the Alpine Lodge Bar by Seventa Events, Bournemouth Borough Council and more. It is important that gratitude is expressed to these groups and that their hard work is recognised across the town as they have successfully delivered a wonderful event.
Christmas Tree Wonderland has already blown most of us away, with over 100 beautifully decorated trees spanning across a carefully thought out trail. The trail has trees that are dedicated to specific cities (the Seattle tree is a modern must-see), more traditional trees and then in the centre of the Lower Gardens is the glorious main attraction- the UK’s largest light-programmable Christmas tree that creates a tunnel-like effect as you pass under (pictured above). This may sound like more than enough but there is still much more to come as we approach Christmas.
During the Dorset Tourism Association event we were lucky enough to witness the magic of the main tree during one of its scheduled half-hour shows in which the tree begins to play everybody’s favourite Christmas music and creates various different light patterns. Jon then explained that in December, the main tree will see the introduction of animations and there will be various different animated shows that will take place at certain times throughout the day; a remarkable feat for the team to achieve. In addition to this, Bournemouth’s big wheel will have pyro audio shows beginning in December which will occur every weekend in the build up to Christmas. It certainly is an exciting time to be a Bournemouth resident, as long as you’re not too bothered by the thousands of non-locals that will definitely be increasing footfall this festive period!
A special thank you to the Dorset Tourism Association and Hot Rocks for putting on this talk and to Jon Weaver for allowing us to listen about the great work that has happened behind the scenes over many years.
By Kyle Ward
Marketing Assistant- Real Recruitment Solutions