- Friday, 27 July 2012 16:00
Online bookings are already being taken for a Derbyshire Dales tradition first held to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and still going strong in Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee year.
Preparations are well underway for the 115th birthday celebrations of Derbyshire Dales District Council's Matlock Bath Illuminations.
The 2012 season gets underway with the grand switch-on performed in the District Council's Derwent Gardens at 8pm on Saturday 1 September.
The annual festival dates back to 1897 when the people of Matlock Bath celebrated Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee by illuminating their village with fairy lamps and Chinese and Japanese lanterns.
Rockets were discharged from the top of Masson Hill and a torchlight procession was held through the village. This was followed by a procession of illuminated boats on the river and the illumination of the rocks by coloured fires.
The 21st century celebration will include on opening night the judging of illuminated boats, with entertainment from Ashbourne Town Band in the District Council's Derwent Gardens bandstand from 7pm. The Illuminations will then run until Saturday 27 October, with the Derwent Gardens and Lovers' Walks bedecked with colourful lights throughout that period.
The unique parade of illuminated boats will take place from 8pm every Saturday and Sunday evening until 27 October and can be viewed from Derwent Gardens. Prices are frozen from last year - £4.50 for adults and £4.00 for over 60s. There is no charge for accompanied children under 16 or for disabled people and their carer. There's family entertainment every Saturday and Sunday from 7pm.
To beat the queues, advance tickets are available from the Peak District Mining Museum and online. Tickets are available on the night from the Ticket Office behind the Grand Pavilion in Matlock Bath.
Chairman of the District of the Derbyshire Dales Councillor Tony Millward, will push the button on 1 September to bring the new season to life. He said:
"This is a very special year in the history of this excellent local tradition, which the District Council is proud to maintain at no cost to Council Tax payers.
"Matlock Bath Illuminations bring in visitors from far and wide, boosting the local economy, and I'm delighted to be involved in the switch-on in Diamond Jubilee year for an annual event that was inspired by Queen Victoria.
"It was her recollections of a visit to Matlock Bath as a young princess that prompted the village to celebrate with lights Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 – and it is magnificent that this tradition still survives today."
Spectacular cliff top firework displays will take place at 9pm on Saturdays 15 and 29 September and 13 and 27 October. Park and Ride services operate on firework nights from 5pm from Derbyshire County Council Offices car park to Matlock Bath Station and from Cromford Meadows to Matlock Bath Pavilion car park.
Hourly trains to Matlock Bath from Derby and Nottingham operate Monday to Saturday and every two hours on Sundays.
The Illuminations today concentrate on the lighting of natural features, such as rock outcrops, trees and the thermal waters in the Derwent Gardens.
The decorated boats remain a central feature of the event. Tradition dictates a maximum of ten models on the river and the subjects change each year - each model is adorned with thousands of pea lights, powered by lorry batteries, and are made by the Matlock Bath Venetian Boat Builders' Association.
The decorated models are mounted on rowing boats and then paraded each Saturday and Sunday on the River Derwent. As darkness falls the boats disappear into the blackness below, leaving the models apparently gliding along just above the water.
Derbyshire Dales District Council stages Matlock Bath Illuminations with support from some local Matlock Bath businesses. To discuss sponsorship opportunities contact the Illuminations Manager on 01629 761390.