Big turnout at Mistletoe Market

Blenheim's town centre was jam-packed on Saturday as thousands of people visited the annual Mistletoe Market.

The market is organised by the Blenheim Lions Club and co-ordinator John Brownlie said the crowd was one of the largest he had seen.

Buyers also seemed to have more money to spend this year.

Fellow co-ordinator Judy Brownlie said a record 164 stalls had taken part this year.

Stallholder Jill Gordon said it was the biggest crowd she had seen in six years selling cherries at the market, while fellow stallholder Henry McHoull, from Windmills Galore, said he had nearly sold out of stock.

"I have been run off my feet since 9.30am - it just hasn't stopped," he said.

Mrs Gordon said people had also enjoyed a change in the layout, with stalls this year extending along Market St.

GMW jeweller Gina Botham said most of the shoppers she spoke to were shopping for themselves rather than Christmas shopping, adding that the market had been great for business.

Thomas's co-owner Tim Thomas said a lot of people in town for the market had come in to the store to do some early Christmas shopping.

This had followed busy trading on the previous two weekends, which was a good sign for the leadup to Christmas, he said.

"People seem to be out Christmas shopping earlier than last year and usually if we're seeing it good this early, it tends to continue."

While most of the shoppers in town on Saturday seemed to be Marlborough people, there were many more visitors about in the evening, he said.

"In Scotch Wine Bar on Saturday we did see a lot of people that were here for the marathon and coming out for food and a drink. You could see all the bars and restaurants were doing well and there were a lot more people in town."

The New World Marlborough Marathon on Saturday morning had attracted a record of more than 1100 entries this year. It started and finished at Villa Maria Winery this year rather than in Seymour Square in central Blenheim.

The Marlborough Express