Over 12,500 people went along to Woodside’s ‘Magical Christmas Market’ this Saturday and Sunday, raising almost £20,000 for the RSPCA, Leicester branch.
The event which was billed as ‘Leicester’s biggest Christmas Market’ attracted more than 50 stall holders selling everything from hand-crafted jewellery, beauty products and Christmas decorations, to speciality wine, chocolate and cheeses.
Visitors were entertained by carol singing and a brass band and the Leicester Riders were there to auction off a signed shirt in aid of the charity.
Hot food stalls sold burgers and hot dogs, fusion food, crepes, donuts and cakes and a bar was provided by Charnwood micro-brewery
One of the big draws was, of course, Santa who enchanted hundreds of children in his magical winter wonderland grotto, complete with reindeer and sleigh.
Woodside’s manager, Gary Wheway, said he was delighted with the success of the event.  He said:
“We had a fantastic couple of days.  The turnout was better than we could have hoped for and the feedback from visitors and stall holders was overwhelmingly positive.
“The best thing was the community spirit.  People came along and enjoyed great family day out, and at the same time they were giving something back to a good cause.  And that’s what Christmas is all about really.
”We intend to make it an annual event and I’m sure it will just get better and better.”
Louise Riley was at the event with her family.  She said:
“The Market has been great; the perfect way to get in the festive spirit. I don’t think we’ve been to a better Santa’s Grotto!.”
Seven-year-old Jack Riley agreed, saying:
“Sometimes you’re not sure if it’s the real Santa or just one of his helpers.  But that was definitely the real Santa.”
The funds raised by the Market will go towards the costs of running the animal centre, which has been caring for stray, unwanted and injured animals in Leicester and Leicestershire for the last 40 years.
The charity does not receive Government, lottery or central funding and relies on community fundraising to carry out its work.