Dickensian Christmas Market organisers have hailed the ‘true Accrington spirit’ of visitors and supporters after the event was plagued by sickness, cancellations and bad weather.

Kate Furey, of New Freedom Ltd, said safety was their ‘top priority’ after the popular annual event was hit by ‘one disaster after another’.

Strong winds and heavy rain in the build-up meant several attractions, including the Winter Beer Garden, could not be set up.

Several stallholders were also forced to pull out at the last minute due to illness and a van containing penguins and benches for the ice rink also broke down.

However Kate said despite the ‘catalogue’ of difficulties, many people had a ‘great time’ and hailed the success of the Market Hall attractions, ice rink and ‘amazing acts’.

The event also included a parade by the Accrington Pipe Band, a visit from Princess Belle and a large puppet reindeer.

“We can’t control the weather and people being sick but in true Accrington spirit we carried on regardless. We didn’t let a bit of weather get us down and everybody ought to be really proud of themselves.

“If that had been on Warner Street then we would have had no option but to cancel.

“The ice rink was really well used. A lot of people got a lot of out it and that’s what makes me smile. The Market Hall went down brilliantly and the acts that did make it were amazing.

“I would like to thank everyone who came down, the council, Katie and Victoria, my family, Ronnie and the characters, Billy and Moira at the White Orchid and most importantly the Accrington Community Events team for pulling out all the stops to make the event happen.”