Lansdowne eyes holiday visitors with European-style Christmas market

Santa
From left to right: Mayor Jim Watson, Santa Claus and OSEG chief executive Mark Goudie at the launch of the Lansdowne Park Christmas market. Photo by Greg Kolz

Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group’s bid to attract more visitors to Lansdowne Park year-round will see it launch an annual Christmas market, modelled after the lights and tastes of Europe’s winter wonderlands.

Santa Claus was on hand Thursday as representatives from OSEG – which operates Lansdowne Park and owns the CFL’s Redblacks, the OHL’s 67’s and the Fury soccer club – and Mayor Jim Watson unveiled plans for a festive weekend market to take over the site’s pedestrian spaces.

The Christmas market will include food and beverage tents, musical guests and local vendors in cabins lining the wintery streetscape. European cities such as Berlin and Vienna attract thousands of people to their famous Christmas markets annually – the hope is that Ottawa can capture a portion of that holiday magic.

“It’s the start of what will become a Christmas tradition for tens of thousands of visitors to Ottawa and Lansdowne,” said OSEG chief executive Mark Goudie in a statement.

Goudie told OBJ earlier this year that the organization was looking for year-round programming to attract more visitors to Lansdowne, which has so far seen lower revenues and higher costs than expected. OSEG said in a report earlier this year that it does not expect to recoup the more than $100 million in funding invested by its partners; the City of Ottawa won’t get back the equity it expected to receive from the park’s revitalization project either.

Goudie said in April that OSEG will unveil a slate of new events aimed at boosting Lansdowne’s annual attendance by 35 per cent to more than five million people.

“We want it to be Ottawa’s pre-eminent entertainment hub 12 months of the year,” he said.

The Christmas market will be funded in part through a grant from Ottawa Tourism’s destination development fund, with the goal of turning the annual event into a marketing push to get more visitors to the capital over the holiday season.