Media release - issued 18 Sep 2020

Aldershot Fireworks and Christmas Lights events cancelled

Aldershot's annual fireworks display, due to take place in Manor Park at the end of October, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rushmoor Fireworks Spectacular, which attracts crowds of more than 10,000 people, is the latest major event in the borough's packed events calendar to fall victim to Covid-19. The Aldershot Christmas Lights Switch-On event, scheduled for 21 November, has also been cancelled, although Rushmoor Borough Council is planning a programme of smaller scale Christmas activities with community groups. Although it will be delivered in a different format, with a reduced number of stalls, the annual Farnborough Frost Fair on 28 November is still planned to go ahead. 

Thousands of excited residents flock to Manor Park each year to watch the dazzling fireworks display that is organised by Rushmoor Borough Council, with free admission being offered in recent years thanks to the generous sponsorship of local businesses. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, whose headquarters are in Victoria House in Aldershot town centre, had already committed to support this year's event. However, as expected with recent coronavirus rules limiting the amount of people who can gather outdoors, this year's event has been cancelled. 

Councillor Marina Munro, Rushmoor Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Planning and Economy, said: "While I'm sure that the news of cancellation won't come as a shock to anyone, we are still incredibly disappointed that the fireworks spectacular is unable to take place this year as we know it is a much anticipated event for local residents and visitors. With the event attracting over 10,000 people we cannot ignore the safety risks it currently presents, and public safety has to be the priority. The same applies to the Christmas Lights Switch-On which, while a much smaller event, still involves a large gathering of people in a small space.

"This is the latest in a year of difficult decisions, coming on the back of the cancellation of the Princes Hall pantomime, and our usual Victoria Day, VE Day and Armed Forces Day celebrations, but one we feel we had little choice in making. We are extremely proud of the borough's extensive events programme, and will continue to plan for smaller scale activities that meet the Covid guidance over the coming months."

The feeling of disappointment is shared by the council's Town Centre & Cultural Manager, David Phillips, who has been organising both events for the past 12 years. 

He said: "Finding a way to hold these major events safely is simply not possible. The sheer number of people the fireworks attracts, in what is a relatively confined space, means we would be unable to deliver the event safely and responsibly. This is not the news any of us wanted to deliver, but it would have been dangerous and irresponsible to continue with plans in the current climate. We will continue to plan for a comprehensive programme of smaller Christmas events for the borough, and are looking forward to our new Rushmoor Heritage Festival which is running throughout October". 

Stall holders interested in attending the Farnborough Frost Fair on Saturday 28 November should contact jenny.atherton@rushmoor.gov.uk.

 
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