The decision to cancel has been described as a ‘sad example of social media virality being a burden’ (Picture: TikTok/@alexskinner011)
Organisers have had to cancel a weekly carolling event after its popularity on social media led to it becoming too overcrowded.
Footage of the weekly festivities at Columbia Road Market have been circulating on TikTok, showing a rush of people so thick that reportedly no-one could hear the singing, with queues of up to 30 minutes for drinks.
Posting the footage on X, formerly Twitter, freelance journalist Moya Lothian-Mclean wrote: ‘Heard another interesting (and sad!) example of social media virality being a burden: Columbia Road Market has cancelled their weekly carolling event because it was becoming overcrowded after going viral on TikTok.’
At the most recent event before the decision to cancel was made, it’s estimated that some 7,000 people turned up.
Viral videos on TikTok from the past two weeks show large crowds singing along to festive songs in unison, with captions including: ‘This is where I’ll be every Wednesday until Christmas’.
Heather Atkinson – the vicar at St Peter’s Bethnal Green, which led festive sing-alongs each year – said in a statement: ‘Columbia Road carols has been a great partnership between the shopkeepers on the road, the local community and the parish church.
‘As the church we cherish these relationships. This decision is in support of our community which had became dangerously overrun.
‘Furthermore, this decision is on the strong advice of the police and local authority. We sincerely hope that the shops will now be able to remain open on Wednesday evenings.’
Ms Lothian-Mclean wasn’t alone in lamenting the throngs of people whose attendance resulted in the event being shut down.
One person wrote on X: ‘Gosh! I used to go to it about 10 years ago and it was charming.
‘I saw it on TikTok and the crowds looked unbearable. Such a shame!’
Another person added: ‘So sad – this was such a nice event for people in the local community and was something I looked forward to every year.
‘One of the few free things to do in London at Christmas. Seems we can’t have anything nice unless it’s ticketed and expensive.’
Others were unsurprised by the news given how popular the market has become in recent years, with one person commenting: ‘I used to live by Columbia road pre-TikTok and going to the market was an absolute nightmare at the best of times.
‘I used to grit my teeth to get my flowers because it was the best place to go, but hated it. Not surprised it was impossible if they went viral on TikTok.’
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