Illuminations FAQs


 With enormous regret we've taken the decision to cancel the 2020 Matlock Bath Illuminations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What time do the Illuminations start?

The Derwent Gardens (DE4 3NR) gates open at 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays (5.30pm on the final Sunday of the season). The Lights are from 6pm and entertainment starts around the bandstand at 7pm on Saturdays and 6.30pm on Sundays. The models are mounted on rowing boats and paraded on the River Derwent each Saturday (7.45pm and 9.15pm in September and from around 7pm in October) and Sundays from 7pm. We also have fire and glow shows on both weekend days, with a fireworks finale on Saturdays at 9pm, plus the last night of the season - Sunday 1 November. Sundays are also themed evenings, with characters in the Gardens with whom young visitors can have their photos taken for free.

Aren't Derwent Gardens a public area?

Yes, the Gardens are a public area operated by us as the local council 365 days a year. On Illuminations nights last entry to the Gardens (via the Derwent Gardens entrance and the Jubilee Bridge crossing into Lovers' Walks) as a public space is 5pm and we will make announcements asking everyone to leave the Gardens at 5.30pm. Even if you have a ticket, our security officers will ask you to leave and queue to come back into the event to enable us to audit the number of people attending for safety reasons. Please abide by these requests to ensure that the Gardens are empty when gates open for the paid event at 6pm.

How long is the 2020 season?

The season starts on Saturday 12 September and runs until Sunday 1 November.

How do I book online?

Available soon.

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, but we cannot guarantee tickets will still be available at that time.

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?

We advise early booking to avoid disappointment.  Our ticket booths at the entrance to Derwent Gardens are open from 5.30pm, but we cannot guarantee tickets will be available on the night, as the event could sell out in advance through online sales. There is a possibility that on sell-out nights, on-the-night tickets could be available from approximately 8pm when the first of the early visitors who have booked advance tickets start to leave the event - 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. We only let in the same number of people who have left, and tickets are issued on a first-come-first served basis and cannot be guaranteed.

How much are tickets?

On Saturdays it is £6.50 for adults and £5.50 for concessions if you book online. It is £1.50 more expensive if you pay on the night (if tickets are available). On Sundays it is £5.50 for adults and £4.50 concessions - and again £1.50 more expensive on the night (if tickets are available). In all cases, accompanied under-16s are free. The only exception is the final night, Sunday 1 November, when Saturday prices apply.

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. Unfortunately 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, which operates on Saturdays only.

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 ((DE4 3PS). In Matlock itself (which is 2 miles from Matlock Bath), the 192-space Station Car Park (DE4 3NA) is situated next to the town's main bus station, from where (Bay 5) there is a regular Shuttle Bus service to Matlock Bath on Saturdays in October between 5-10.30pm. There a train service on Saturdays and Sundays on the Derwent Valley line between Nottingham and Matlock (including Matlock Bath).

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. Parking after 6pm is just £1. Derbyshire Dales residents with a valid Resident's Parking Permit can park free after 4pm.

Do you operate a Park & Ride service?

Starting from 19 September, a Park & Ride service operates from 5pm until 10:30pm on Saturdays.

  • Cromford Meadows, Cromford (Sat Nav - DE4 3RQ / 53.110300,-1.553536) - drops off near Illuminations entrance, so better suited to visitors with mobility issues

We will also be offering a Shuttle Bus service from 5pm until 10.30 pm on October Saturdays only from the following location: 

  • Bay 5 Matlock Bus Station, Station Yard, Matlock (Sat Nav - DE4 3NA) - drops off near Memorial Gardens, which means a 0.3 mile walk to the Illuminations along North Parade, taking in the village's many takeaway eateries, shops, pubs and entertainment arcades. The shuttle bus service does not operate on the final Sunday of the season (27 October).

How much does Park & Ride and Shuttle Bus cost?

Park & Ride & Shuttle Bus service costs £2.00 (return) per adult, £1.00 for children and under 5s are free. The Park & Ride buses are fully accessible and well behaved dogs are welcome. There is no parking charge at Cromford Meadows on top of the park & ride fee.

How often do the Park & Ride and Shuttle 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.

Is Matlock Bath the same place as Matlock?

No it isn't! Matlock Bath, where the Illuminations take place, is a village on the A6 road approximately two miles south of the larger town of Matlock. Both locations have large car parks and are separate train stations on the Derwent Valley Line. One of our park & ride locations is in Matlock (two miles north of Matlock Bath) and the other is in Cromford (two miles south of Matlock Bath).

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 operate to Matlock Bath 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 £1.50 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.

What do I get for my money?

Entry to Derwent Gardens includes entertainment around the bandstand such as jugglers, fire shows 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 and 9.15pm on Saturdays in September and from around 7pm in October. On Sundays the boats parade from 7pm. 

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 Thomas the Tank Engine plus more adult themes such as Herbie the VW, the Red Arrows, a Lancaster plane and a 1st World War tank. The models are built by volunteers belonging to the Matlock Bath Boat Builders' Association and there are 10 models in 2020, plus a traditional candle boat built to show the way the parade used to look many years ago.

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 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?

Heights of Abraham logo for webA fireworks finale happens on every Saturday from 12 September, including the last Sunday night of the 2020 season, 1 November. 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.


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

Cash point

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


Can be booked at


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.