SOUTHAMPTON'S Christmas bars are set to open for an extra day due to public demand.

Market operators Wela Marte say they will keep the main bar area and sausage grill open on Christmas Eve to allow residents and shoppers one more day of festive fun.

The main bar and grill will now be open from 10am until 4pm on Christmas Eve, meaning shoppers will have the chance to have lunch and a drink.

German bar manager Stephan Lankri said the decision to extend opening hours was purely to give people an extra chance to soak up the festive atmosphere.

He said: "For many people it's the last day for their shopping. To come here with the music and sausages it's a nice atmosphere so it's a very nice day for the Christmas drinks. It's a good way for everyone to be all together".

And one Hampshire resident can't get enough of the Christmas bars. Vinny Jones, 48 from Hythe has made eight trips to the seasonal venue.

And yesterday he brought a whole host of colleagues from GEO Specialty Chemicals based on Charleston Road to join in the fun. He said: "It's just so festive. It's a good time and makes you feel good."

Poppy Attwood and partner Gary Compton were enjoying a couple of drinks - but said they wouldn't come on Christmas Eve. Poppy, 38 from Totton said: "We'll be too busy to come then. We've got children."

City leisure boss Councillor Satvir Kaur said: "The Christmas festival has been a huge success again this year, with hundreds of thousands of people from the local area visiting the city to experience all it has to offer.

"We've had a lot of positive feedback and so many requests for the market to stay open on Christmas Eve that we've asked the market operators to run the main bar and sausage grill for an extra day to give everyone the chance to further enjoy the festivities."