Boris Johnson’s decision to keep the economy open despite concerns over Omicron could be worth £1.1billion to the Christmas markets and winter wonderland industry and more than £10billion to hospitality, it has emerged.

Thousands of Christmas parties up and down the UK are being cancelled amid conflicting advice from ministers over the new variant – a sector of the economy which is thought to be worth around £1billion. 

The Prime Minister has been urged by MPs as well as business leaders to focus on the fact that confidence in public life is declining due to mixed messages regarding whether festive plans should be pursued. 

The city that generates the most revenue from the festive markets is Manchester at £306million across six city centre squares, followed by Birmingham where the Frankfurt Christmas Market brings in £187million.

London’s Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is estimated to be worth £119million, followed by Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland at £99million and the markets in Newcastle at £92million and Edinburgh at £88million.

Other major UK markets include Sheffield at £47million, Belfast at £44million, Glasgow and Bournemouth both at £34million, Exeter at £20million, Bath at £14million, and York and Winchester both at £12million.

The decision to keep the economy open could be worth £1.1billion to the Christmas markets and winter wonderland industry

The decision to keep the economy open could be worth £1.1billion to the Christmas markets and winter wonderland industry

Where the Trade buys was the first to collect the data. This printing company supplies small businesses that attend market. It wanted to assess the effect of cancellations because of the tiered and second national lockdown.

The research was based on visitor numbers multiplied by £34 per head – which included one sweet snack such as waffles at £5, one savoury snack such as a burger at £7, two alcoholic drinks at £10 and ice skating for £12.

The top 15 Christmas markets in Britain by value 

  1. Manchester £306,000,000
  2. Birmingham £187,000,000
  3. London Winter Wonderland £119,000,000
  4. Nottingham £98,600,000
  5. Newcastle £91,800,000
  6. Edinburgh £88,400,000
  7. Sheffield £47,260,000
  8. Belfast £44,200,000
  9. Glasgow £34,000,000
  10. Bournemouth £34,000,000
  11. Exeter £20,400,000
  12. Bath £13,600,000
  13. Winchester £11,900,000
  14. York £11,900,000
  15. Lincoln £8,500,000

Totals calculated by Where the Trade Purchases 

Meanwhile the value of the UK hospitality industry at Christmas is thought to be more than £10billion, including £5.1billion on food and another £5.1billion on drinks, according to a prior survey conducted at a similar time last year by jobs site

And the most recent estimate on Christmas parties from Eventbrite found in a 2015 survey of 500 business decision makers in the UK that organisations were set to spend £955million on entertaining staff.

MailOnline spoke with Danny Roberts, an insurance expert and partner at DFA Law Northampton. He said that it was ‘extremely unlikely” that hospitality businesses would have to pay for the cancellation of guests.

He stated that disruptions to the Omicron-based variant could be very damaging to the hospitality industry, but it’s unlikely they will seek recourse against their insurances.

“The concern expressed by customers and businesses could lead to many cancellations of large events and bookings, and affected venues, restaurants, bars and hotels will have to refer to their terms and conditions to determine what they can recover from the customer.

He stated that Christmas markets would be similar to hospitality business in the same circumstances.

Today, Oliver Dowden, Tory Party Chairman, said that people need to ‘keep calm’ and continue with Christmas parties and plans despite Omicron.

Dowden said that the government had followed its instructions despite contradictory advice from a number of ministers and stated: “There is still a Conservative Party Christmas party planned.” 

Ministers and Boris Johnson's top scientists have all given different advice this week about whether to hold a Christmas party

Boris Johnson and Ministers gave different opinions this week on whether to have a Christmas party.


He said, “Brits must adhere to mask rules in shops and public transport.”

It’s so festive!

In the face of conflicting advice, many employers are now losing faith and cancelling Christmas party plans.


University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust  All staff parties were postponed for next year.

Newham Clinical Commissioning Group The celebrations of GP offices have been postponed.

Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Fund Trust Parties for small departments are possible, but many, including those for paediatrics can be cancelled.

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust No guidance for trusts, however some providers report cancelled parties.

Hampshire GP practices  Some surgeries may be cancelled, however there is no Trust guidance.

Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, York Rescaled. No large parties – but individual teams can decide whether to go ahead.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust  No change. Parties continue to be treated as usual on a departmental basis.

The public sector

BBC  Many departments, including news, have cancelled office parties, claim staff.

Departments of the Government  Scaled back. The department will not host parties, and each team can decide what to do.

Metropolitan Police  Scaled back. This year, there are not plans to host an office Christmas party. Each department will decide.

National Highways  Scaled back. Although no party was scheduled, smaller gatherings can be expected with the encouragement of lateral flow testing.

Tech sector

Google  Cancelled. All events were moved next year to accommodate 15 persons.

Microsoft  Cancelled. Replaced with a virtual party

Universities and charities

University College London All parties were cancelled or postponed.

Age UK  Face-to-face Christmas parties have been called off.


Lloyds  Cancelled. Instead of celebrating Christmas in winter, the bosses held it in summer to prepare for the chaos that would ensue in winter.

HSBC  Reduced. The staff were not asked to cancel Christmas parties for their teams, but many have chosen virtual events.

NatWest  Other measures. Individual parties can still be organised as before, but lateral flow tests are recommended.

Insurance and finance

Deloitte  You can scale back. Party-hosting parties can be organized by small teams.

EY  Reduced in size Face coverings are required for smaller groups.

PwC  Reduction in scale Plan for smaller parties requires the consent of department heads.

KPMG  Reduced. Parties will be arranged group-by-group.

Firms of lawyers

May and Slaughter  Scaled back. Only smaller parties were allowed, as this was done before Omicron.

Ashurst  Reduced. Before smaller teams-based parties, lateral flow tests are performed. 

Sky News spoke with Mr Dowden. He said: “The message to people is quite simple – keep calm and carry on your Christmas plans. While we have put in place the restrictions, please keep your cool and go on.

“I am aware that there are concerns about the new version. That is why we took the steps that we already mentioned… those we believe are adequate at the moment and people should carry out their plans in the same way as before.

Last night, Sajid Javid waded into the controversy on Christmas parties for the second time in as many days – but rather than clarifying the matter, he muddied the waters further.

According to the Health Secretary, this contradicts earlier advice given by Therese Coffeey, Work and Pensions Secretary. She had advised against “snogging” under mistletoe. 

Javid stated that ‘people can snog where they want. My wife will be the one I kiss under the mistletoe. It is Javid family tradition.

After George Freeman, science minister, suggested that events for more people than “four or five” might be a good idea.

He said that the Business Department where he worked had cancelled the party, just days after Prime Minister asked organisations to continue with their plans.

Dr Jenny Harries of the UK Health Security Agency suggests that festive socializing should be cut.

The conflicting opinions of leading experts has reignited anger in the already troubled hospitality industry.

UK Hospitality, a trade body said companies are reporting cancellations of at least 1 in 10 Christmas parties in the past few days.

The Government yesterday recorded an additional 53,945 cases and reported 141 deaths.

The Daily Mail conducted a survey yesterday and found that many major companies have either cancelled or changed to virtual Christmas events. The NHS, Google, Lloyds Bank and Lloyds Bank have all cancelled plans for Christmas gatherings.

Johnson tried to ease the crisis by issuing another appeal for people not to cancel Christmas celebrations last night.

However, industry leaders warned of the dangers.

Patrick Dardis is the chief executive officer of Young’s pub group, which has more than 270 locations. Dardis stated that “the messaging was terribly confusing” and it had been inconsistent.

“We had some cancellations since Friday. This is encouraging as we hope that things will calm down and the government can send the right message that celebrations are safe.

Best Western CEO Tim Rumney claimed that Omicron was like the ghost of Christmas past, and criticised ministers for differing opinions. On BBC Radio 4’s World at One, he stated that three quarters of Best Western’s members experienced cancellations because they had booked festive events.

‘The concern we have about the mixed message from government and scientists is that they have sent us mixed messages.  

“The longer we wait for uncertainty to end, the more cancellations and more severe the problem will be.”

Sacha Lord (night-time economic adviser for Greater Manchester) said that the sector has been hit hard in the past 48 hours. There has been an enormous domino effect. This isn’t just restaurants, this is the whole ecology around it – it’s the supply chain, it’s the taxis, it’s hotel rooms, it’s everything that goes with it.

‘December is a time when people can have a good time – they can take up to 25 per cent of their annual turnover in December. It was taken away at the very last moment.

Former minister Steve Baker was also the deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group, Tory MPs. He said last night that the opposite advice had already caused damage.

He explained that businesses, families, and individuals cannot plan for so much uncertainty.

“Government needs to take control of its affairs and decide what people want to do.” There are far too many government employees who want to cancel everything.

Last night, the Prime Minister tried to enforce order by saying that people should “continue as is”.

After receiving his booster shot, he said to reporters that he wanted to reiterate the guidance and was keen for people’s understanding. It is not our intention for people to think that cancelling an order means they must.

The PM reminded schools to not cancel nativity plays or other Christmas events.

No 10, yesterday, stressed it doesn’t want Christmas parties cancelled, despite the fact that some Government departments have made this a preference. Official spokesman for PM stated that the Prime Minister had been clear about why these departments chose to do so.

“On Christmas parties we don’t want anyone to cancel them.” This is not a Government directive.