Ilfracombe’s Combe Christmas event will not go ahead this year.

The weekend of festivities draws in huge crowds, with thousands packing into the war memorial ‘square’ to watch the Christmas lights being switched on on the final Friday in November.

However, with social distancing guidelines still very much in effect as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, organisers said it was with ‘great regret and a lot of sadness’ that the traditional celebrations would not go ahead.

Combe Christmas Committee said that having spoken to North Devon Council, licensing teams, insurers and suppliers, there was ‘very little to suggest’ the events could go ahead with large numbers or without a ‘huge financial risk’.

A statement from the committee said: “It’s a huge blow as when we had our first meetings at the beginning of the year the committee were raring to go, and even after Covid-19 started taking its grip we all hoped that Combe Christmas would be a nice way for the community to come back together and celebrate the end of a rubbish year, but none of us anticipated that going into September this would very much still be ‘a thing’.”

The committee said it was working hard to come up with a switch-on event on November 27 within Covid guidelines.