Online bonus for 2017 Illuminations

Visitors to your District Council's showpiece autumn event Matlock Bath Illuminations will get an even bigger incentive to buy their tickets online in 2017.

Adults will pay £5.50 on Saturdays and £4.50 on Sundays if they buy online in advance - that's 50p cheaper than last year. Accompanied under 16s will continue to be free, with concessions available for students and OAPs.

People who buy on the night will pay £7.50 on Saturdays and £6.50 on Sundays - £2 more expensive than the online prices.

Online bookers will be fast-tracked into the Derwent Gardens - and the online incentive prices will also apply to visitors who take the train to Matlock Bath during this year's season, which will run every weekend from Saturday 9 September to Saturday 28 October.

Thanks to increased promotion, online ticket sales in 2016 leapt to 22,769 from 11,307 the previous year - a 102% increase that resulted in smaller on-the-night queues at the ticket office in Derwent Gardens.

The 2016 festival attracted a total of 55,335 paying visitors, with more than twice that number drawn to Matlock Bath itself during the Illuminations, which traditionally extend the tourist season for the mini resort.

The District Council has acted on feedback from a customer survey conducted after last year's eight-week spectacular, which made a small surplus on its £218,000 budget, by designating every Saturday in 2017 a fireworks night, but restricting numbers in Derwent Gardens to a maximum of 6,000, down from 8,000 in previous years.

A report to last week's community and environment committee stated that reducing the capacity would improve crowd movement and enjoyment for visitors.

To enhance the reputation of Sundays as a "family night", the event will start and finish earlier, running from 6-8pm to take account of the fact that younger visitors have school the following morning. Sundays in 2017 will have a more general fancy dress feel than previous years' specific themes.

The 2017 Illuminations - the 120th - will once again finish with a Spookfest finale on the last Saturday in October, and other improvements scheduled this time around include better signage to the park and ride service, more stewards and more enforcement officers to police pedlars on the streets of Matlock Bath.

The District Council committee also voted to welcome the voice of Matlock Bath Illuminations, Geoff Stevens MBE, to be involved again this year as compere for the 50th consecutive year, assisted by his wife Jacquie.

And more people will be invited to get involved through social media in 2017 in the vote for the best boat in the centrepiece of the Illuminations - the unique parade of illuminated and decorated boats.


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