Barnstaple’s Christmas lights switch-on will not go ahead this year.

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2019. Picture: AW PhotographicBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2019. Picture: AW Photographic

The switch-on, which traditionally takes place towards the end of November each year, sees hundreds of visitors head to Barnstaple town centre to enjoy music and entertainment before the lighting of the lights.

Organisers Barnstaple Town Centre Management made the decision to cancel the event in the wake of new coronavirus guidance from the Government on social gatherings.

Town centre manager Hannah Harrington said: “Whilst we understand that this will be a disappointment for many, we feel it would be irresponsible to go ahead with this year’s Christmas lights switch-on event.

“Public safety is of paramount importance and social distancing during such an occasion would be extremely challenging to manage effectively”.

“We very much hope that residents and visitors will continue to come to the town during November and December to support the local businesses who have worked so hard to reopen.

“Online shopping is great, but you can’t beat seeing products up close whilst soaking up the atmosphere of Christmas shopping in person.”

Last year’s switch-on saw a change of location and day, as the event was moved to the town’s pannier market and held on a Thursday evening to coincide with late night shopping.

Measures have been put in place to ensure shopping during the festive season – including the popular Thursday evenings – can continue.

Barnstaple Town Centre Management is supporting North Devon Council’s ‘Live Love Local’ campaign, which supports and celebrates the many North Devon businesses that have reopened safely following lockdown.

The campaign highlights the advantages of staying local, including the wealth of independent eateries and shops, supporting the local economy, being environmentally friendly and of course the fantastic local warm welcome.

For more information, tips and advice on shopping local and enjoying it safely, follow Live Love Local’s Facebook and Instagram page – @livelovelocalnorthdevon.