CHRISTMAS lovers were left disappointed by a last-minute decision to cancel a festive fair over a “health and safety hazard”.

The three-day Essex County Christmas Fair started at Layer Marney Tower on Friday.

But the popular event was cut short within hours of opening, with the organisers also pulling the plug on the second and third days of the Christmas extravaganza.

In a post on Facebook, organiser Prestige County Events said poor weather conditions had led to the last-minute cancellation.

It read: “Recent flooding has caused the field to hold huge amounts of water, so even with all of our hard matting there were still vast areas where cars would get stuck, and even the emergency partners were getting stuck whilst trying to pull them out.”

Parking was available for 1,000 cars with organisers investing “close to £30,000” in provisions including matting, marshals, and lights.

Prestige County Events said “a huge amount of cars” descended on Layer Marney Tower to try and buy tickets on the door despite the event being sold out.

“We truly appreciate your interest in attending, and thank you for your enthusiasm but, unfortunately, we were unable to increase our capacity in the car park any further,” the statement continued.

“This then resulted in huge queues, and became a health and safety hazard.”

The event was cancelled on Saturday and Sunday because of “the weather becoming even worse overnight”.

Anyone affected is eligible for a full refund.

The organisers added: “We have painstakingly arranged this event over the last 12 months, with huge time, effort and expense, so we are very frustrated to have had to pull the event and disappointed so many of you, but, again, from a health and safety perspective this felt like the correct call.

“Whilst it lasted it was great, we had some magical moments and everyone was hugely understanding which we are incredibly grateful for.”

One stallholder said they were “absolutely gutted” the rest of the event couldn’t go ahead.

“We're grateful we managed to serve as many people as we could in a short space of time but saddened we're unable to continue the rest of the weekend,” they wrote.