Our Illuminations set to burn brighter than ever!

Your District Council is lighting the touchpaper to ensure our 2015 Matlock Bath Illuminations season goes off with a bang.

A record number of fireworks nights - seven in total - will ensure the autumn festival will burn brighter than ever.

Decorated boats on the Derwent at our 2014 IlluminationsOther changes resulting from a recent review carried out by the District Council of the 118-year-old tradition will see additional entertainment in Derwent Gardens and incentives to visitors who buy tickets in advance.

Accompanied under 16s will continue to attend the Illuminations free throughout the 2015 season - one week shorter than usual - running every Saturday and Sunday from 12 September to a Halloween finale on Saturday 31 October.

The District Council's Corporate Committee approved the review recommendations [PDF 3.8MB] at a meeting last week, including the introduction of more children's "themed" events and more entertainment - including brass bands - on Sundays. The only non-fireworks Saturday will be the opening night, which will be a media and preview event at which the famous parade of decorated boats will be judged.

Last year's Illuminations attracted more than 100,000 visitors to Matlock Bath - and 45,000 paying visitors saw the event make a surplus after breaking even in 2012 and 2013.

But last week's meeting heard that the event was in need of a "revival" and the review team had acted on feedback from visitors who generally thought the Illuminations were "starting to look tired and needed a new lease of life".

There will be different charges in 2015 for Saturdays and Sundays in recognition of the different levels of entertainment provided on each night.

Visitors who buy tickets in advance online or at one of the District Council's four leisure centres will pay £5 for Saturday and £4 for Sunday - £1 less than people paying on the night. Advance price concessions will pay £4 and £3, but £5 and £4 on the night.

In means a family of two adults and two or more under 16s will continue to enjoy a Saturday night out at Matlock Bath Illuminations for just £10 - including a fireworks finale - if they buy in advance.

Advance sales will give the District Council improved monitoring of likely crowds and give it the option to designate certain nights "all ticket" if necessary.

The review team signalled that more effort should be made by local business to support an event from which they benefit through a significant increase in visitors to the mini resort. In return, the District Council is proposing a bigger recognition for businesses and organisations that do make a contribution, for example through the sponsorship of event improvements such as new lights, equipment and signage.

Another new element could be the introduction of market stalls offering a variety of goods, including 'take home' food, mulled wine and gifts to encourage visitors to spend more time in the area.

It was agreed at last week's meeting that a percentage of any surplus funds would continue to be re-invested into the Illuminations to maintain and enhance the tradition of a festival originally started to celebrate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. Derbyshire Dales District Council took it over 31 years ago when the former organising group got into financial trouble, and has always stated that it should be run at no cost to local Council Tax payers.

The 2015 changes will be monitored and impacts reported back to the District Council later this year.

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