Taken From The Archives- “Free Portions of Goulash & Boysie!”

Here is an article direct from my Archives – Its a reminder of the fact that some years ago we had a Christmas Market brought all the way from Hungary. It was a much celebrated Market at the time Read what I wrote back in December 2006……
Taken from the Councillor Phil Bateman Archives December 2006 –  “Last night we welcomed the Civic Party from Kobanya Hungary, into our Council Chamber along with the Kobanya Chamber of Commerce, the Hungarian Trade Attaché and representatives of our own City Council and of course Wulfrunians some of whom were putting the Kobanyans up in their homes.
It was a great gathering and after the civic speeches there was a briefing given to the Kobanyan stall holders.So we now look forward to the start of all that has been worked for. The run up to Christmas is going to be exciting and very hard work for all those that have been involved in getting it up and running.

The Hungarian Christmas Festival begins in earnest today, Wednesday 7 December, in Queen Square and Market Square. It will be launched by the footballer Gabor Gyepes (from Wolverhampton Wanderers) and the Mayor of Kobanya, Hungary.

Come to the festival’s launch at 6pm in Market Square.

Councillor Phil Bateman said ” I want Wolverhampton to enjoy itself and visit the festival from Wednesday and skate have fun on the synthetic skating rink and grotto in Market Square. Lets welcome and enjoy our Hungarian Festival this Christmas!

A star from the world of football is set to feel right at home when he helps to officially launch Wolverhampton’s Hungarian Christmas Festival.

Gabor Gyepes from Wolverhampton Wanderers will join fellow Hungarian Ando Sandor, the Mayor of Kobanya to herald the start of the festival at Market Square on Wednesday December 7.”

Wolverhampton Mayor, Councillor Phil Bateman MBE; Milhaly Bata, President of the Kobanya Chamber of Commerce and Councillor Andrew Johnson, Wolverhampton City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, will complete the prestigious group carrying out the opening honours.

The official opening is part of a packed programme of events for the evening including music; dance; the Beacon Radio roadshow; an appearance by Santa and free traditional Hungarian goulash for visitors to try.

The evening will give a taste of what is to come in the following two weeks throughout the Hungarian Christmas Festival which will feature an extensive market, comprising of traditional craft stalls in Market Square and Queen Square.

During the two weeks, a synthetic skating rink and Christmas grotto will also be located at Market Square and a series of cultural events has been lined up.

Mark and Jo from Beacon Radio’s Breakfast Show will start the evening off at 5pm, keeping the crowds entertained with their lively roadshow in anticipation of the official launch at 6pm.

This will be followed by performances from Hungarian dancers and musicians from 6.15pm and the event will finish at 7pm.

Free portions of goulash will be available for visitors to try both at Queen Square and Market Square.”

Looking back the Hungarian market was a great success-  and later in December 2006 I  went onto say  –
IMG_1773xmasboyce Hungarian Christmas market.

Boysie famous for his part in Fools and Horses took part!

“It is brilliant that the vision that the City Council had has paid off.
I am proud to have played a part in this ground breaking initiative, that has been led so well by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Roger Lawrence.

Councillor Lawrence and Johnson have ensured that Christmas in Wolverhampton can be ”lifted to a much higher level” for the benefit of the City. Indeed I believe our contribution as a City to the Christmas trade was of regional importance. Align the visitors to the very powerful regional and national publicity that Wolverhampton attained, and you have a measure of the good news that the City received over Christmas.

The difficulty will be in maintaining the profile and the initative in years to come. But we must as we cannot slip back into yesteryear performances now.Trade was most certainly up in the City and my reason for that belief is that Beatties have just released figures that indicate 7.7% sales increase over the previous years Christmas.

The Mander Centre were also quoting footfall records, and there was just this incredible buzz around the City as we got used to visiting the Market and seeing the Hungarian Traders and sampling a little bit of Eastern European promise!

On Thursday we presented two lucky Wulfrunians with a week end in Hungary following the successful prize draw. Our partnership with Kobanya is a platform that we must build upon.”

Wolverhampton’s first Hungarian Christmas Festival has been hailed a success by council leaders.

The Hungarian festival attracted shoppers from all over the country, with thousands of people from as far afield as Devon, Lincoln and Gloucester travelling to Wolverhampton to soak up the sights and sounds of the Eastern European market.

Councillor Andrew Johnson, Wolverhampton City Council Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said he was overwhelmed by how far people had travelled to experience the Christmas festival.

He said: “It is a wonderful achievement that the festival attracted people from across Britain.

“Furthermore the feedback has been positive, with people really appreciating the chance to pick up Christmas presents with a difference and enjoy a taste of Hungarian culture.”

Council Leader, Councillor Roger Lawrence, said he was delighted with how the festival had increased visitor numbers and raised the profile of the city. He said: “The Hungarian Christmas Festival has provided one of the highlights of the year.

“It has been an interesting learning curve as this was the first year the event has been held in the city – but it has proved to be a success, making Wolverhampton the place to be in the region this Christmas.”

The festival, which ran from December 7 to 21, was a special addition to the Christmas festivities in Wolverhampton and aimed to bring a traditional European feel to the city centre.

During the two weeks an extensive market, comprising of traditional craft stalls was set up in Market Square and Queen Square. Meanwhile a synthetic skating rink and Christmas grotto was located at Market Square and a complementary series of cultural events was staged across the city.

The climax of the festival was a grand prize draw to win a two-night break for two people in Budapest, courtesy of Co-op Travel, Wolverhampton.

The competition was entered by more than 1,000 people from as far away as London, Wales, Nottingham and Bristol, again highlighting the distance people travelled to visit the festival.

The lucky winner of the break was Mrs Hazel Bowen of Sedgley who said she was delighted with her prize. There were also 12 runner-up prizes of gifts from the Hungarian festival.

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more


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