- Friday, 01 March 2013 15:53
Improvement plans have been drawn up for Derbyshire Dales District Council's 2013 Matlock Bath Illuminations.
Although last autumn's annual festival again attracted more than 100,000 visitors to the village at no cost to Dales Council Tax payers, the District Council has decided changes need to be made.
Four firework nights will be staged this coming year – all in October – and the famous decorated boats parade will happen twice on these special nights, rather than just once as in previous years, starting at 7.45pm.
The 2013 Illuminations season bursts into life on 31 August, and on non-firework nights the boats will also parade slightly earlier at 7.45pm.
Additional entertainment in and around the bandstand in Derwent Gardens will happen only on Saturdays. Sundays will see a "quieter" presentation led by the Illuminations and the boats.
Prices are being adjusted accordingly in 2013. On Saturdays with additional entertainment it's £5 adults and £4.50 over 60s. Accompanied children are free. On Sundays, with no additional entertainment, adults pay £4.50, Over 60s £4.00 and children free.
The number of paying visitors and free accompanied children to the District Council's Derwent Gardens and Lovers' Walks for the nine Illuminations weekends in 2012 was unchanged on the previous year at 41,000, providing a boost for local businesses, who see that number more than doubled as people pour into Matlock Bath to soak up the atmosphere.
The total cost of the 2012 event, which once again included a parade of decorated boats every weekend from the start of September to the end of October, plus four special clifftop fireworks displays on selected Saturdays, was £104,500 against an income of just over £112,000 from ticket sales, sponsorship, donations from non-paying visitors, and £3,900 voluntary contributions from local traders. Additionally, the District Council's income from local pay and display car parks was boosted by around £15,000 during the Illuminations season.
The District Council's Environment Committee approved changes to the 2013 festival at a meeting on Thursday (28 February).
Committee chairman Councillor Steve Bull said:
"The 2013 Matlock Bath Illuminations will be the 116th, but we are always looking for ways to improve how this fantastic tradition operates.
"The District Council's key aim is to run the event at no cost to Council Tax payers and I'm delighted we did just that again last year thanks to improved marketing, reasonable weather and perhaps the fact that more people seem to be holidaying in the UK rather than abroad.
"The only problems we encountered were due to the incredible pull of the Illuminations. The third and fourth firework nights attracted the largest crowds for many years and that led to some inconsiderate parking in the village – an issue we addressed by employing wardens.
"The use of a second ticket office significantly reduced queuing times, but we will be urging people next time around to book early to beat the queues and take advantage of our online booking option."
However, Councillor Bull said he was disappointed that donations to the cost of the event by local traders had decreased in recent years. He added:
"We'll be sending out letters again soon and hope the contributions we receive will recognise the huge benefits this District Council festival brings to the local economy.
"What is undeniable also is that for a family of four including two young children, a night out for £10 represents excellent value for money."