A continental vibe swept Carlisle this Easter as the International Market brought al fresco eating to the city centre.

The smell of street food, fresh bread and sweet treats combined with sunny weather set the perfect bank holiday scene.

Carlisle’s Tourist Information Centre said visitor numbers were up, and market traders reported a thriving weekend.

Laura Thompson, tourism information officer, said: “It’s been going really well.

“Certainly Good Friday was busy, with visitor numbers up, and Saturday was buzzing.

“There has just been a really nice atmosphere in the city. The market is great. It increases footfall and brings people into the city, and once they are here they don’t just visit the market. Bitts Park was also really busy and the weather has been great for all the outdoor Easter events.”

She said although Easter had been staggered this year, with Cumbrian schools starting their two-week holidays before everyone else, visitor numbers had sustained.

Many of the International Market traders have been coming to Carlisle for years, and say this has been one of the best weekends yet.

Andi Lange, from the Continental Cottage German salami stall, said: “It is the best in a long time. We usually have some bad weather - last year it was really windy on the Monday and the year before it rained all day on the Sunday. This year it’s been really nice. Talking to people, they are just in a great mood.”

Monique Nijboer, of the Dutch Flowers on Tour stall, has been coming to Carlisle for about eight years. She said: “It’s been very busy. The weather has been brilliant so everyone is happy. They want some colour so are buying lots of flowers.”

Angi Rowley, of Big Pan Cuisine, added: “We’ve been coming here for 12 years and this year is exceptional. We get a lot of returning customers each time.”

Among those visiting the stall yesterday was Gary Cherry, from Penrith, who comes up to Carlisle for the market.

“The food is fantastic. I really enjoy it. It fetches people into the town,” he said.

Others at the market included Margaret and Alex Anderson, from Carlisle, who stopped for a cold drink in the sun. “It’s so nice when you have something like this on and it’s beautiful weather. It makes a change from it being a wash out,” said Margaret.

Emma Starmer was enjoying the sun with her family. She said: “We just live locally and it’s nice to have this on your doorstep.”