It was inevitable that the Christmas market in the centre of Belfast would fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic this year. Drawing huge crowds during its normal month-long opening - the organisers claim an astonishing footfall of 1.3m - it would have become a petri dish for the virus.
Hospitality outlets that have been shuttered for weeks, or months in some cases, would have looked askance at any decision to allow the market to open. That is not to say that the market, which has about 30 stalls each year, will not be missed. When it first came here 15 years ago, it was a signal that Belfast, once a city to be shunned because of its troubles, had taken its place among desirable destinations.
The market grew to become the sixth most lucrative in the UK. It played its part in the resurgence of the city and also helped bring more cheer to local traders by attracting visitors to the prime shopping and leisure area.
With three Covid vaccines showing promising results, the hope is that next Christmas Belfast will be able to welcome the market back again.