Thumbs down to Clitheroe Christmas festival

Clitheroe Christmas Festival. (s)
Clitheroe Christmas Festival. (s)

Plans to stage a Christmas festival in Clitheroe have been kiboshed by local councillors.

Members of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s community services committee voted against the proposal by Lancashire Bites to hold a festive event on Clitheroe Castle field from Wednesday December 2nd to Sunday December 6th.

The proposed plans were refused on the basis that the new festival could have an impact on local trade and that the event coincided with already established festivals such as the annual Pickwick Festival in Whalley.

Organisers of Clitheroe Christmas Festival had planned to stage a tented event on the castle field with an entrance fee of £7-50 per person. Attractions would have included an ice rink, 50 stalls selling food and gift items plus a large bar area with a dance floor for party nights.

Julie Whalley, managing director of Lancashire Bites, said: “Our spirits are not dampened, just saddened.

“We believe this event would have been amazing for Clitheroe, and given those hundreds of people thinking of travelling to Manchester or Skipton Christmas Markets a more local choice for a bit of festive fun early in December.”

She added: “We are very seriously investigating other venues, but at this time sadly the Christmas Fair at

Clitheroe Castle will not be going ahead.

“We are all in shock to be honest, and as you can imagine busy making calls.”

Members of RVBC’s community services committee voted seven to five against offering their approval in principle to the event.

Daniel Williams, president of Clitheroe Chamber of Trade and Commerce, spoke at the meeting outlining the Chamber’s concerns about the festival.

Speaking to Chamber members after the meeting, he said: “It appears that following the recent council meeting with regards the proposed Christmas event on the castle field that the Chamber is getting some bad press for being responsible for the cancellation of the event.

“I was in attendance at the meeting and can assure you that despite the Chamber growing into a real voice for local business owners we are nowhere near powerful enough to approve, or reject, any events submitted to the council for approval in the town centre or Ribble Valley area.”

He added: “The general consensus, and the thoughts taken forward, were that in principal the idea was a good one and the ice rink would be a real draw.

“There was concern that the 50 shops could just be duplicating items already available in the town and that the bar and entertainment side would detract from local businesses of this type. All this was coupled with the fact the entrance fee wouldn’t allow people to roam freely in and out of the venue and seemed to be geared up to keeping people inside.”

He added that the Chamber felt the event would be acceptable if some small changes were made. These included the event issuing wrist bands to allow people to roam freely in and out as they choose; a reduction in the number of stalls; the bar arrangement being altered to make it smaller and/or more festive and truly offer something different than what is already offered in the town; the stalls offering more festive type wares that are not already on offer in the town.

The Chamber will hold its annual Christmas Festival across the town on Saturday December 5th. The event will start with Santa arriving by train before sitting in his seasonal grotto, decorated by children from local schools. As well as various local individuals, groups and organisations performing on the day, Langho singer/songwriter Ella Shaw will headline in the afternoon. Other attractions include carol singers and choirs, plus bands and solo artists in various locations in the town.

There will be a range of stalls, festive treats including mulled wine, donkey rides and the traditional walking nativity arranged in conjunction with local churches to the crib at the Castle gates. There will also be the annual best dressed shop front competition.

To complement the event, the Chamber is publishing a town guide with offers and savings in the run up to Christmas. The town will also be lit up again by Christmas trees throughout the town centre supported by Clitheroe Town Council Proceeds raised by the festive event will be divided between attending charitable groups and the Chamber’s chosen charity for the year – the North West Ambulance Service.

For further reaction to the cancellation of the Christmas Festival planned for the castle field see Thursday, October 22nd’s edition of the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times.