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Illuminations FAQs

Illuminations FAQs

What time do the Illuminations start?

The Derwent Gardens (DE4 3NR) gates open at 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The Lights are from 6pm and entertainment starts around the bandstand at 7pm.

How long is the 2017 season?

The season starts on 9 September and runs until Saturday 28 October.

How do I book online?

Tickets are now available to book online

Do I have to book tickets for under 16s, even though they are free?

Yes, you must include accompanied children in your online booking.

When is the deadline to book online?

The deadline for purchasing online tickets is at 6pm on the day of the event you wish to purchase tickets for.

When/how will I receive my tickets?

Tickets will be emailed directly to your email address account through our online ticketing website.

Do I have to print out my e-ticket?

It's quicker for us (and the queue) if you have a printed version of your e-ticket to present at the gate, but we can accept an e-ticket on your phone if that's a problem for you. 

What happens if I miss the online deadline?

A limited number of tickets are available on the night but we can't guarantee that everyone will get in, we advise arriving early to avoid disappointment.  Our ticket booths at the entrance to Derwent Gardens are open from 5.30pm - but it is more expensive than booking in advance and the queue is likely to be long. We accept cash and cards at the ticket booths on the night, but please note there is a small surcharge for credit card payments. Visitors with pre-booked tickets are fast-tracked into the Derwent Gardens.

How much are tickets?

On Saturdays it is £5.50 for adults and £4.50 for concessions if you book online. It is more expensive if you pay on the night. On Sundays it is £4.50 for adults and £3.50 concessions - and again more expensive on the night. In all cases, accompanied under-16s are free.

Online tickets purchased through Ticket Source have no added charge when using a debit card. You may opt to receive your ticket as a text message for an extra 50p.  

What classes as a concession?

Concession prices are available for disabled people and retired people receiving their state pension. Unfortunatley students are not entitled to a concession ticket. 

Can I use my ticket on any night?

No. Tickets are not transferrable and are non-refundable.

Am I guaranteed a parking place in Matlock Bath?

Unfortunately not. Car parks at Matlock Bath Station (DE4 3NS) and on Temple Road (DE4 3NR) can be full by 5pm or even earlier. Please allow plenty of time for your journey, arrive early, please park considerately and be prepared to use the Park & Ride.

So what are my parking options?

Masson Mills (DE4 3PY) provide parking and there is another car park on the A6 between Matlock Bath and Matlock at Artists' Corner. In Matlock itself, the 192-space Station Car Park (DE4 3NA) is situated next to the train station, from where there is an hourly service on Saturdays to Matlock Bath and stations beyond (every two hours on Sundays).

How much does it cost to park?

In District Council car parks, where charges generally apply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, charges are £1.30 for up to 1 hour, £2.20 up to 2 hours, £3.30 2-3 hours, £4.40 3-4 hours. Derbyshire Dales residents with a valid Resident's Parking Permit can park free after 4pm.

Do you operate a Park & Ride service?

Yes. A Park & Ride service operates from 5pm until 10:30pm on Saturdays only from the following two locations:

  • Cromford Meadows, Cromford (Sat Nav - DE4 3RQ / 53.110300,-1.553536)
  • Derbyshire County Council Offices, Matlock (Sat Nav - DE4 3GL / 53.141541,-1.551357)

How much does Park & Ride cost?

Park & Ride costs £2.00 (return) per adult, children are free. The Park & Ride buses are fully accessible and well behaved dogs are welcome. There is no parking charge at either location on top of the park & ride fee.

How often do the Park & Ride buses run?

The buses run approximately every 15 to 20 minutes.

Can I park on the road?

There is limited onstreet parking on the A6 in Matlock Bath itself, but parking is not permitted on double yellow lines or verges either side of the village. This restriction is enforced via a £70 fine. Side streets in Matlock Bath are stewarded to ensure they are accessible only by local residents.

Disabled Visitors

  • Limited disabled parking in the Pavilion car park (DE4 3NR). Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.
  • A disabled viewing area for the boat parade is located behind the ticket office at the entrance to Derwent Gardens.
  • Disabled toilets are available at the entrance to Derwent Gardens and within Derwent Gardens.
  • The event is accessible by wheelchairs.
  • Disabled people pay the concessionary price and any carer is free of charge. If you are booking online please allocate your carer an under 16 (free) ticket.

Coach parking

Available at Matlock Bath Station Car Park (DE4 3PT) costing £5.00 per 3 hours.

What about public transport?

Trains to Matlock Bath run from Nottingham, Derby and Matlock along the Derwent Valley Line every hour Monday to Saturday and every two hours on Sunday. If you travel to Matlock Bath by train, show your train ticket at the Derwent Gardens entrance and SAVE £2 on admission to the Illuminations on the night. The train service is operated by East Midlands Trains, and tickets cost 80p from Matlock, £4.70 from Belper, £6.00 from Derby and £9.50 from Nottingham.

Between Nottingham, Derby and Matlock, there's a 34% discount for groups of 3 to 5 adults travelling together, with up to 4 accompanying children travelling for £1 each. Purchase Groupsave tickets at staffed stations or at unstaffed stations, from the conductor on the train, call 03457 125 678 or online.

Where is the entrance to the Illuminations?

The entrance is in Derwent Gardens (DE4 3NR), located down either side of the Grand Pavilion in Matlock Bath.

I have an advance ticket - am I fast tracked?

Yes. Visitors who have bought their tickets in advance do not need to queue up at the ticket office on the entrance to Derwent Gardens. Please go straight to the gate. The gate is by the side of the Grand Pavilion/Peak District Mining Museum.

What do I get for my money?

Entry to Derwent Gardens includes entertainment around the bandstand such as jugglers, fire shows, brass bands and children's activities. You also see the famous parade of decorated boats, and, on Saturdays, a fireworks finale (9pm).

What time do the boats parade?

The decorated boats parade at 7.45pm on Saturdays and 7.30pm on Sundays and, on fireworks Saturdays, for a second time at 9.15pm.

What is a "decorated boat"?

A themed model is mounted on a rowing boat, illuminated by around 700 coloured bulbs. The boat is rowed up and down the Derwent Gardens stretch of the River Derwent and themes include children's characters such as Spiderman, Postman Pat, Sonic and more adult themes such as the Eiffel Tower and Doctor Who. The models are built by volunteers belonging to the Matlock Bath Boat Builders' Association.

How can I see the boats once I am in Derwent Gardens?

The pathway on both sides of the river is roped off for viewing. On busy nights it is not always possible to get a front row place straight away, but spectators do move on at regular intervals and the boats stay on the river long enough to ensure everyone gets a great view (usually between 45 minutes and an hour).

How do I get to the other side of the river?

A bridge spans the river from Derwent Gardens onto the other side (Lovers' Walks). You can view the boats from the bridge itself on Sundays, but not on Saturdays, where we ask visitors to keep moving because these nights are usually so busy.

I've seen reports that the event is crowded?

Saturday nights can be very busy, but in 2017 we have responded to comments about numbers in Derwent Gardens by reducing the maximum capacity by 2,000, to give visitors more space to move around. Sundays are traditionally less busy if you prefer a quieter night.

Can I see the boats from other parts of Matlock Bath?

No. The decorated boats parade can only be seen from Derwent Gardens and the Lovers' Walks paths on the opposite side of the River Derwent.  The parade takes place between the landing stage near the Grand Pavilion and the New Bridge downstream, and can only be seen by people who have paid to get into the Illuminations.

How do I leave the Illuminations?

You can leave the way you came in (the Derwent Gardens entrance by the side of the Grand Pavilion) or by crossing via the New Bridge to the other side of the river and turning left, walking along Lovers' Walks to the Jubilee Bride halfway up the main parade in Matlock Bath.

Are the Illuminations only on at weekends?

The entertainment and parade of decorated boats are only on at weekends, but the Lights themselves can be viewed free of charge every weekday from 6pm to midnight.

When are the fireworks?

A fireworks finale happens on every Saturday from 9 September, including the last night of the 2017 season, 28 October. The display is set off from the cliffs on the far side of the river at 9pm and cannot be viewed from Lovers' Walks. This area is cleared prior to the fireworks display. Fireworks can be viewed from most areas of Derwent Gardens.

How long does the fireworks display last?

Approximately 10 minutes.

Can I buy food in Derwent Gardens?

Yes, food is available in Derwent Gardens e.g. burgers, hot dogs, coffee/tea/cold drinks, cake, sweets.

What else is in Derwent Gardens?

There's a small funfair (a charge to use the rides) for children and a variety of food stalls.

Toilets

  • Toilets are located on the entrance to Derwent Gardens by the side of the Grand Pavilion.
  • Baby changing facilities are available in the ladies' toilets.
  • Temporary toilets are situated in Derwent Gardens and on Lovers' Walks on firework nights.

Cash point

There is a free cash machine (new in 2017) in the Pavilion car park near the Derwent Gardens entrance.

Accommodation

Can be booked at www.visitpeakdistrict.com

Dogs

Well behaved dogs on leads are welcome at the Illuminations, but owners should be aware that the fireworks at 9pm on Saturday are loud and can cause distress to some animals. Here's some advice from the RSPCA on pets and fireworks.

What happens to the entrance money?

Through entrance charges and donations from local businesses, Derbyshire Dales District Council aims to organise the popular festival - which boosts the local economy - at no cost to local Council Tax payers.  Any profit is generally ploughed back into the following year's event.

Wasn't it once free to get into the Illuminations?

There was a brief period from 1984 when entry to the Illuminations was via voluntary contribution, so you could get in for free if you wished. The local council rescued the event when the organising company was voluntarily wound up after the 1983 season was hit by bad weather. The reason no formal charge was made at that time was due to the event being temporarily scaled back.

Other than this brief period, throughout its 120 year history the Illuminations has always been a ticketed event. In fact when boats paraded on the longer stretch of the Derwent, watched from the former Promenade Gardens in Matlock Bath (an arena lost to road widening in 1968), the river was blocked off with high fencing so people who had not paid could not see the boats.