New year mission to draw The Galleries crowds in

The food festival proved a big hit
The food festival proved a big hit

The big announcements about its future have yet to come, but Wigan’s half-empty Galleries can’t be faulted for trying to bring in the crowds.

The shopping centre has revealed an ambitious programme of crowd-pleasers for 2019 with one event planned for each week of the year.

The Galleries, most of which was built in the late 1980s, has been struggling for years for a number of reasons including the Grand Arcade’s drawing businesses away and general decline of the high street.

And last year the council took the controversial decision to buy it back from its private owners amid concerns that they were doing precious little to revive its fortunes. The local authority has not revealed any concrete plans yet for its future although the talk from the town hall concerns steering away from retail to focus more on leisure, food and drink and accommodation.

Already a new escape room facility has begun to take shape in the former Specsavers store on Market Street.

And last year a busy programme of events aimed at bringing in large numbers of people were held in the Galleries including a food festival and a comic con, the latter of which attracted 3,500 in one day.

The new activities timetable, called Saturday Takeover, has been designed to “offer shoppers some value added fun whilst out shopping” and follows the success of 2018’s free events.

For the little ones who love their crafty activities, the programme kicks off tomorrow with hand puppet-crafting in Makinson Arcade, and will be followed by a bug box-making activity on January 12.

To celebrate Chinese New Year there will be a Chinese lantern-making session on January 19 there will be colourful decorations throughout the centre.

The month is rounded off on January 26 with a bird box-making activity with RSPB Garden Watch laser cut-out bird boxes.

Galleries manager Victoria Nichol said; “It’s clear from 2018’s activities that our events have been really successful.

“We’ve has some amazing feedback from the people of Wigan, particularly during the summer months where we hosted lots of free activities for children to take part in, so it made sense that we should offer more events this year, under the Saturday Takeover banner!”