The streets of Derby will sparkle with Christmas lights this year, but Derby City Council has confirmed today that there will be no official switch-on event. Instead, plans are under way to create seasonal attractions that can be enjoyed safely, with social distancing measures in place.
It's the latest Christmas event to be cancelled after many other local authorities decided they cannot run festivities safely due to coronavirus restrictions. Hugely popular events like pantomimes and Christmas fayres, not to mention festive markets, have all been cancelled for 2020.
Going ahead with something which would encourage huge gatherings of people in the city centre would not be the responsible thing to do while COVID-19 remains in such high circulation. The good news is we are working on some exciting plans with our partners. Our wish for everyone is good health and Christmas cheer, so we are going to light up Derby and we’re looking forward to announcing more soon.
Other events that have been axed include the Diwali and the Christmas lights switch on in Leicester. The events, normally held in October and November respectively, would usually attract tens of thousands of people to Leicester's streets and there are concerns that social distancing rules could not be enforced.
However, the city’s traditional Diwali and Christmas decorations will still light up Leicester this year. The council’s lighting team will start putting up the lights as normal early next month and they will be switched on by a timer.
Alternative ideas are also being worked up for ways in which people can mark the occasions - additionally, the ice rink in Jubilee Square won’t be part of the plans this year.
Nottingham City Council hasn't yet announced whether there'll be a Christmas lights event in the city centre this year but it has already cancelled the annual fireworks display due to concerns about crowds gathering in close proximity both at the event and on public transport.
Meanwhile, organisers of Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market have confirmed that it will not take place this year, as a result of the pandemic.
The popular festive event, which attracts millions of visitors a year, usually marks the start of the season from November.
However, it will be the first time since 2001 it has not taken place.
Kurt Stroscher, Frankfurt City Council’s Director of Festivals and Events, said they have "carefully explored all options" but "the health and safety of visitors had to be our top priority".
He added: "Consideration was also given to the possibility visitors might not adhere to the social distancing rules and behave in ways that they have been used to in the past."
“Under no circumstances did we want the Christmas market to become a place that promotes the pandemic.
“Therefore, the right decision could only be to not bring the market to Birmingham this year. We will now concentrate all our efforts on 2021 in order to return with an impressive Christmas market in its recognisable form.”
So which events are still going ahead?
The outdoor Christmas lights display will still be going ahead at Belton House in Lincolnshire. From 27th November, visitors can see giant luminescent candles rising high into the night sky. There are giant baubles, glowing flowers and snowflakes where you least expect them and clusters of trees wrapped in ever-changing ribbons of colour.
Father Christmas and the elves will be returning to Churnet Valley Railway this year for their pre-Christmas world tour. Elves guide visitors to their seats before the train departs festive Froghall station. On the journey, elves spread festive cheer with songs and quizzes. The train passes the Northern Lights before arriving at the North Pole where Santa is waiting. The journey lasts around an hour and a half and the event runs from 21st November.
Whilst rides at Drayton Manor theme park close for the Winter, some attractions in Thomas Land will be open on selected dates for a festive day out. Favourite characters will perform in singing and dancing shows and Father Christmas will be waiting in the Castle of Dreams to meet children with his elves and give them a gift. Each day ends with a little fireworks display by the lake. Dates haven't been officially released for 2020 yet but there are bookings from 20th November to 31st December on their calendar.
Santa’s back at the SnowDome this Christmas for his 16th year of festive fun! From 14th November, his magical winter wonderland in the snow returns along with an extended reception area plus a larger theatre for a Covid secure experience. The event features real snow, real animals and an all new winter wonderland show.
Light up Christmas at Wollaton Hall will see the park transformed into an enchanting light spectacle new for 2020. Visitors can experience a trail of discovery through four magical lands, specially designed to fit into the natural landscape of the Hall and Gardens. The event begins on 27th November.