A Christmas market which promised to bring festive magic to families near Bath has been branded a ‘winter blunderland’ after organisers failed to deliver.
Santa South West Christmas Village at Shepton Mallet promised visitors ‘a forty five minute grotto experience like no other’ – along with a pantomime and fairground – but visitors said in reality it was a six-stall flop with a ‘broken snow machine’.
Visitors to the ‘magical Christmas experience’ which runs from December 1 to 16 have slammed the attraction as ‘grim’ – although some contrasting reviews said it was an enjoyable day out.
Santa’s Enchanted Adventure, decorated wooden chalets, meet and greets with Lumi the Unicorn Princess and the snow-dusted funfair were so disappointing – some sellers packed up and left within hours, it was claimed.
Trader Sophie Futcher, 25, has been working at markets and events for almost four years with her business Sophie’s Cakes – and had a stall there.
She shared a video of Santa South West Christmas Village, which opened on Saturday at the Royal Bath and West Showground, looking distinctly un-magical.
‘It was such a disappointment,’ she said.
‘It was basically an indoor market, there were six fairground rides and a snow machine which broke on the Sunday.
There were few people in the images which one person captured as she said the event was a flop – and nothing like what was promised
Santa South West Christmas Village said it could deliver an experience ‘like no other’ but some people did not agree
The event was described as ‘grim’ by some visitors while others said they had a good time. The company behind the market was accused of deleting negative reviews from Facebook
Santa South West Christmas Village was not what people expected when they arrived – after being promised an unforgettable experience
Visitors were left disappointed with the event which promised a winter wonderland
Roxanne Gomes was furious on a visit to the ‘magical Christmas experience’ just outside Bath where she said she spent more than £100
The area was supposed to be transformed into a winter wonderland but some said it was more like a ‘blunderland’
‘I paid £196 for a pitch and I’ve spent into the thousands on stock, decorations and preparing for this event since they told me I had a pitch back in August.
‘I haven’t even made half of my pitch money back.’
Sophie reported disappointed traders, some of whom had paid almost £2,000, leaving during the opening weekend after they realised the event was nothing like what had been promised.
She said: ‘I was expecting wooden chalets, all decorated, like the pictures on their Facebook page, but there was none of that.
‘The traders themselves made a real effort to decorate the stalls but I feel like the organisers had this vision and no idea how to achieve it.
‘If people want to pay £2 to get in and look around the market fair enough, but I think if they come expecting the magical Christmas experience that was advertised they will be disappointed.’
Roxanne Gomes said she paid over £112 for her family to experience a few of the activities on offer, but was left gutted when it didn’t match the adverts.
She accused organisers of ‘conning families out of their hard-earned cash at the most precious time of the year’ by ‘offering a highly over-priced and falsely advertised ‘magical Christmas’ event that was no more than your local school fair could offer’.
Donna Withers said: ‘We went yesterday & it was awful, complete waste of money & feel totally ripped off. Website & Facebook details are nothing like the reality, few ropey fairground rides, tiny ice rink, few stalls & the ‘Enchanted Santa Experience’ was a total joke. If you’re thinking about going don’t, save your money & go somewhere else!!!’
Others were furious about the price. Although it was only £1 to see the market the other activities were paid extras.
According to the event’s website – entry to the village plus ice skating and Santa adventure costs £107 for 2 adults and two children aged 3-15.
However, others said it was an enjoyable day out.
The event at Shepton Mallet failed to impress some families and stall holders – while others said they enjoyed their day out
Traders also said they were unimpressed and one claimed she failed to make back even half of what she spent on her pitch
Event images were taken by customers who said it was not the event they had been expecting
Greg Shearman wrote on Facebook: ‘If you are looking to read negative reviews you will find them from 2-3 people ! Is it perfect no , but it is a lovely day out with amazing traders and more than enough to keep the kids entertained and 90% of it is indoors …. so £1 entry come and have a look!!!’
Hannah Morton said: ‘Had SO much fun exploring the marketplace – it’s lovely to see local businesses being supported and promoted (especially the sweet potato alcohol stand!) The Grotto was brilliant with fun, dedicated actors, and the look on the childrens faces was worth every penny!
‘Plenty of hot food stalls offering a variety of options, live reindeer (with option to feed them for just £1), soft play area (not sure if there’s a cost as we didn’t use it, but good to know it’s there) and a fab pantomime. Overall, a really good effort for a first time event, would really recommend!’
Comments online have referred to the event as ‘c***land’ and ‘blunderland’.
The organisers have been contacted for comment.