Keswick’s traditional New Year’s Eve celebration sees large crowds gather in Market Square for a mass countdown before midnight, but social distancing is already jeopardising this year’s big knees-up.
And now the town council has insisted that all Christmas illuminations in the town centre will be switched off at 10.30pm, half an hour after pubs are due to close under new coronavirus restrictions.
The turning off of all the town centre’s festive lights, including its Christmas tree, 90 minutes before the new year arrives is certain to prove unpopular, but the council’s events committee chairman Paul Titley said the early lights out ruling would apply every night from the switch-on next month.
“We don’t want to be a spoil sport but we will not do ourselves any favours by encouraging crowds to come to Market Square,” said Mr Titley, Keswick’s mayor. when he chaired last week’s town council meeting via Zoom.
His view was supported by councillor Alexandra Boardman, who runs a shop in nearby Pack Horse Court.
“I will get Pack Horse Court’s lights taken off at 10.30pm,” she said.
There will be no official Christmas lights switch-on this year to avoid a large crowd gathering.
The illuminations will still be up on public display throughout the town centre’s main shopping areas but this time from 1pm to 10.30pm every day during the festive season, including New Year’s Eve.
A giant electronic clock is usually installed on the square to provide a communal countdown to the new year for all the revellers who gather there.
Referring to New Year’s Eve, Mr Titley said: “We don’t organise anything, so there is nothing to postpone or cancel but we certainly don’t want to put anything up for thousands of people.”
Unlike last winter, Keswick will have a real Christmas tree and it will be in a new location at the bottom end of Market Square.
The decision to put giant baubles and lights in an ordinary tree on the square last year prompted a petition calling for the return of a big, traditional tree.
When asked by councillor Markus Campbell-Savours if this was a U-turn, Mr Titley replied: “We are responding to public comments. That is what we are supposed to do.”
He added: “I can assure everyone that Christmas has not been cancelled!”