In the run-up to Christmas, Alice from Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland will be appearing on the streets of Oxford as part of a City Council campaign. The campaign, launched on November 15th, aims to encourage shoppers to return to the streets and support independent businesses.
The six-week project is designed to showcase the city as a hub of tourist activities, from shopping to fine-dining, in a bid to increase visitors during the festive season.
The high volume of independent businesses and small boutiques in the city centre are expected to profit from the campaign, which is hoped to increase footfall during a crucial month.
In November of 2019, a similar campaign was launched. The Council filled the Covered Market with sculptures of the White Rabbit, Gryphon, Mock Turtle, Cheshire Cat, Caterpillar and Dormouse, all of which were taken from Carrol’s novel.
Lewis Caroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland studied at Christchurch and composed his famous novel whilst living in Oxford. Carrol’s characters have long been used to bring magic to the city. Now, the Covered Market is once again decorated with fantastical figurines.
Between 2019 and 2021, the Covid-19 virus stunted many celebrations. The restrictions on in-person shopping have had severe impacts on the independent shops that rely on tourism and holiday trade.
Oxford City Councillor Susan Brown told the Oxford Mail: “The pandemic has seen a big reduction in the number of international visitors to our city and we are keen to continue to support businesses across our city to recover. Oxford is particularly magical at this time of year and I would encourage everyone to enjoy our city and remember to support the local businesses that make it so vibrant when planning your Christmas shopping and entertainment.”
Funded by the Government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund, established to support businesses at a crucial time of year, the campaign will feature a range of interactive elements to encourage shopping locally. These will include digital adverts on county-wide bus shelters and on-board Thames Travel buses in the south of Oxfordshire, as well as posters in local media including the Oxford Mail.
Extensive content filmed by Independent Oxford and Fortitude Communication will highlight the broad range of entertainment the city has to offer, from the independent businesses of the Covered Market to the attractions of Westgate. All businesses will be encouraged to promote the campaign by tagging #VisitOxford on their social media channels.
The event will be further promoted by the Oxford Mail, with editor Pete Gavan emphasising the need for the Oxford community to rally around its local businesses after a very challenging year and a half. Other partners will be collaborating with the Council to deliver a multi-channel marketing campaign in the hopes that tourists from both inside and outside Oxfordshire will choose to do their Christmas shopping in the city.
An abundance of other activities are running parallel to the Wonderland theme to encourage even more interest. The Robin Hood pantomime, Christmas Arts Market, Christmas Carols, and Narnia Story Walk are just a few features in a line-up sure to get Oxford’s streets buzzing with festivity.
The campaign is intended to reach students, locals, and tourists. The City Council seems hopeful that Alice in Wonderland will be able help make the Christmas season truly “magical” for its independent businesses.
Image credit: Meg Lintern