TRADERS and other businesses left struggling after two years of difficult trading, say they were disappointed by the cancellation of Abingdon's traditional Christmas Extravaganza.

The event which kicks off the festive season in the town was called off by the town's Chamber of Commerce which said they had been unable to get sponsorship or organise the fun evening.

The Extravaganza usually takes place at the end of November and sees Santa’s sleigh arrive, family activities in the town and a Christmas lights display. It is among the most important days in the town's year for traders, with local people joined by thousands of visitors.

Anna Kowalska, general manager of The Nags Head pub on Abingdon Bridge was saddened to have lost out on the extra customers the event usually brings in.

She said: "It is usually a really busy day for us and brings a lot of people to the town. It has always been a huge event and it is a shame it did not happen this year as we have no Covid restrictions."

She added: "It is sad. It is a lovely family day and we definitely sold loads more wine on that night a couple of years ago."

Bookseller Jack Wrighton of Mostly Books on Stert Street had been looking forward to the Extravaganza.

He said: "I have heard about the Extravaganza and I know it means a lot to the community and to local businesses. We had customers asking if it was happening."

The Chamber of Commerce has organised the Christmas Extravaganza for many years in order to promote Abingdon in the run up to Christmas.

In previous years, planning has started early for the organisers to book entertainers, attractions and fireworks.

Local companies help fund the Extravaganza and planning is usually reliant on help from a small number of volunteer members and friends.

It was off last year because of Covid and traders had been hoping for a spectacular return.

A spokesperson from the Abingdon Chamber of Commerce said: "The pressures on businesses and personal life over the last 18 months has left little room for extra activities in most of our lives.

"At the time we would normally approach businesses for sponsorship we were in a national lockdown. Furthermore, the situation was never clear as to what this festive season would be like.

"Asking for sponsorship and booking entertainment along the lines that we have been doing in previous years was just not feasible."

The Local Excellence Markets and Christmas Craft Market, which the Chamber has traditionally organised will be run by Abingdon Events Partnership. This new organisation will be organising the Christmas Craft Market on Saturday, in the Market Place.