Our 2017 Matlock Bath Illuminations did not hit its budget target - but the 120th season was still operated by us at no cost to local Council Tax payers.
The autumn showpiece, which cost more than £160,000 to stage, ran from the start of September to the end of October, attracting 52,087 paying visitors and making a small surplus of £15,000 - £37,000 less than expected.
The District Council’s Community & Environment Committee heard last night (11 January) that the lower-than-expected return was due in part to bad weather and to more visitors taking advantage of cheaper online tickets.
The District Council's decision to reduce the capacity in Derwent Gardens from 8,000 to 6,000 had helped improve the customer experience and movement of crowds, but had also impacted on income.
However, three Saturdays had sold out, and online ticket sales had soared by 80%.
Planning is already underway for this year’s event, led by the District Council, which rescued the autumn showpiece when the former organising company was voluntarily wound up after the 1983 season was hit by bad weather.
A post 2017 event consultation exercise has taken place to gauge feedback from people who attended, including an online survey and a meeting in Matlock Bath with local traders and the boat builders whose parade on the River Derwent forms the centrepiece of the Illuminations.
Thursday's meeting agreed that Geoff Stevens MBE, who celebrated 50 years as Illuminations compere in 2017, should be invited to continue this year.
Councillors also sanctioned the expansion of a District Council Working Group to involve more local people, tasked with exploring cheaper alternative online ticketing options, an improved sponsorship package, plus the possibility of introducing a 50p increase in online ticket prices that would still make it £1.50 cheaper to book online than pay on the night.
The Group will also be explore new lighting options, review event timings, extend the Saturday park and ride service to October Sundays and consider options for activities in Matlock Bath's Memorial Gardens.
- The full report can be viewed online here [PDF 2.05MB]
The Illuminations attract well over 100,000 visitors to Matlock Bath during the season, helping to extend the season and boost the local economy.