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Christmas could be cancelled in Causeway Coast & Glens with ‘virtual’ lights switch-on likely

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Causeway Coast & Glens is likely to have a virtual Christmas lights switch-on this year due to COVID-19. Thousands of people usually flock to numerous towns around the Borough throughout November and early December to enjoy the festivities and watch the lights being turned on.

A number of authorities have already made the decision to cancel Christmas lights events throughout the UK with Covid-19 rules preventing mass gatherings.

Councillors are set to discuss two options next week at the Leisure and Development Committee that will be held on Tuesday evening. One of two options is to cancel all council managed Christmas festivities with the second option to deliver a virtual Christmas with a food trail and pop-up animation.

Causeway Coast & Glens Council started to install Christmas lighting in towns in Septemeber of this year.

The options proposed are as follows :

Option 1: Cancel delivery of Council managed Christmas festivities.

This option will mitigate for ongoing and potential future Government guidelines and restrictions. It will also represent a £50k saving in the Tourism and Recreation budget. It does not however assist with the Council’s efforts to support the local tourism and hospitality sectors by the promotion and delivery of events and hence assist the local economy.

Option 2: Deliver revised format for Christmas.

This proposal would entail running a ten-day programme of Christmas events in a restricted venue and virtual form. Proposals include the following:

– Online message from The Mayor and Santa (pre-recorded and delivered online) with lights in four main towns to turn on during one pre-agreed evening with 5 smaller towns being turned on during a second pre-agreed evening. The Events Team will promote the ‘switch ons’, but will encourage people not to congregate at switch-on times in various towns (in line with Covid-19 restrictions). Council will post an online video (pre-recorded) of the lights being turned on in each town to mitigate against this.

– Online Christmas ‘storytelling sessions’ with Santa with local storytellers.
– Online Christmas Arts and Craft Workshops (Museums / Arts).
– Christmas Food Trail (Town Centre Management / Trade Engagement Teams).
– Pop-up animation in town centres e.g. Walkabout Characters (Events / Town Centre Management Teams).

This approach at an estimated cost of £15k will allow the Council to continue its event programme albeit revised and reduced.

We will provide a further update on Tuesday evening.

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