Christmas Spiegeltent: Popular show returning to Bristol harbourside this year

Show organisers have won permission to run the event again this yearShow organisers have won permission to run the event again this year
Show organisers have won permission to run the event again this year
The show first came to Bristol back in 2012

A popular Christmas event is coming back to Bristol’s Harbourside this year, despite fierce opposition from residents who say they are kept awake by a growing number of events in the area.

The Christmas Spiegeltent has won permission to set up in Waterfront Square from November 25.

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The double-walled wooden tent, which hosts a range of acts and party events, will end its 2021/22 season with a masquerade ball on New Year’s Eve.

The Christmas Spiegeltent first came to Bristol in 2012 and usually puts on around 23 events during its short season, a licensing committee heard.

But it had to persuade the committee to allow it to return to Bristol city centre for the festive period after neighbours claimed it had contributed to late-night noise and anti-social behaviour in the area in the past.

The company behind the Spiegeltent also had to justify that it was an exception to a council rule preventing any new alcohol licences from being issued in the city centre, which is seen as “saturated” with pubs and clubs.

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Handmade Events applied for a licence to cover every Christmas season until February 2023, allowing the sale of alcohol and live and recorded music and “similar” activities.

Director Stephen Meadows told the committee the company needed to include February in the licence because it plans to extend the season so it can put on a pantomime theatre-type show.

The licence permits 15 events that finish after 11pm per November-to-February season.

The latest finishing times allowed – except for New Year’s Eve when closing is at 3am – are 2am on Friday and Saturday nights, 1.30am on Tuesdays to Thursdays, and 11pm on Sundays and Mondays.

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Mr Meadows said the company had an “adequate and successful” noise management plan in place and the Spiegeltent had never been associated with any incidents involving the police.

But Tim Hayes, who lives at The Quays in Cumberland Road, said he and other residents of the building were concerned about the rising number of events on the waterfront, given that the city centre was becoming increasingly residential under the council’s housing strategy.

Another resident, Nick Marshall, said noise from Harbourside events had caused problems for “years and years”, and the Spiegeltent was a “major” contributor to the problem.

“The net result is very late-night disturbance into the small hours, night after night, week after week,” he said.

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“It’s like a drum machine that’s just running for hours and hours and hours. It runs late into the night.

“There was an occasion some years ago when I drove to work, got some ear defenders and came back so I could sleep in the ear defenders from my work because this was just going on ridiculously late.

“And there have been many occasions where a lot of neighbours have lost sleep. It just penetrates right through the windows.

“The noise level within the flats greatly exceeds that level at which you would put in a complaint to a management company about a neighbour if they were having a noisy party.”

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Late-night venues like the Spiegeltent “serve as a magnet for anti-social behaviour”, he added.

Mr Meadows said he thought the Spiegeltent’s noise management plan had been “very successful” and it had kept noise levels to within permitted levels.

The venue was not “a hub of antisocial activity”, he added.

Mr Meadows said he understood residents’ concerns but that many events take place in the Harbourside over the Christmas period.

“I feel we’re getting kind of a lot of flak here for other events that aren’t relevant to my application,” he said.

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“We don’t really have pumping music. We have cabaret shows and we have discos. We’re not a rave. Sometimes there’s different forms of music. We have every form of music.

“But I’m not sure where this [objection] is coming from.”

The committee heard that Handmade Events had agreed to “quite restrictive” conditions asked for by the police, who had not objected to the application.

Five members of the public and the Perrets Court Management Group contacted the council about the application, according to the licensing report.

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