LATE-night shopping comes to Rugby tonight (Thursday March 5) – alongside a food market and street entertainment.
The town centre will ‘come alive after five’ with the launch of 1st Thursdays – a group of independent traders’ idea to boost business by keeping shops open until 8pm and offering special promotions and street entertainment on the first Thursday of every month.
The first event will feature Rugby’s first evening street food market at Jubilee Gardens, the Regent Place square where the Rupert Brooke statue stands.
Co-organiser Simon Ainley from Garden Gate Flowers explained the plan was to bring a party atmosphere to the town centre.
He said: “Right in the heart of the town centre we have this lovely triangle of grass, trees and benches in which to soak up the delicious tastes and aromas of our street food chefs.
“It is an underused public space that we are delighted to be able to make the most of for our late night shopping extravaganza.
“It’s really going to be a fantastic event.”
From 5-8pm visitors can eat under gazebos in Jubilee Gardens to the sounds of local musicians Ben Watts, Kate and the Moon Cats, Becki and The Dove and The Rattletones. Caterers include The Hungry Toad, Savanna Grill, The Vegan Grind House, The Jabberwocky, Big Daddies Diner and The Bournville Waffle Company.
Locally produced cheese, pickles and other deli products will be available inside the Clock Towers Shopping Centre, while The Red Banger will be selling hot dogs and burgers outside the Rugby Tap in St Matthew’s Street.
MP Mark Pawsey said: “I’m delighted retailers have taken the plunge, and I hope everyone will give this initiative the support it needs so it will go from strength to strength.”
County councillor and Rugby First board member Coun Yousef Dahmash said 1st Thursdays had the potential to become a regular event in town.
He added: “I hope it will also help attract further investment into the town, bringing more of what people want to see on their high street.”
Warwickshire County Council and Rugby First have pledged financial backing to the scheme.
Visit www.loverugbytown.co.uk to find out more about 1st Thursdays, including participating businesses and special offers.
* RUGBY Art Gallery and Museum will be serving drinks and inviting visitors to express their creative side as part of tonight’s opening 1st Thursday event.
At the Drink and Draw evening, visitors will be able to buy drinks from Oscar’s Mobile Bar at the Floor One Gallery before doodling at a free social drawing event.
Meanwhile, children and families can explore the rest of the gallery and museum from 5-7.45pm and take part in a range of free drawing activities.
Visit www.ragm.co.uk for more information about Drink and Draw.