Council officials have taken the decision to pull this year’s big Christmas light switch on, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
With infection rates increasing and national restrictions in place, the traditional event, attracting thousands of people, cannot go ahead.
But Christmas isn’t cancelled, and from 16 November festive illuminations will decorate the town centre alongside safe celebrations for families to enjoy.
The traditional decorated Christmas tree will be in situ and, from 3 December, families can take part in a Christmas trail, searching for 12 festive characters hidden in locations around the town centre.
On 13 December, the Made in Bedford Christmas Artisan Fair will take place in St Paul’s Square and children can ‘virtually’ visit Santa’s Grotto.
Some businesses in Bedford Town Centre will also be extending their opening hours to help reduce the number of people using shops at the same time.
BedfordBID will be updating their website regularly to highlight business that are open and will be extending their hours. Many of the town’s independent businesses
Councillor Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centres and Planning, said, “Whilst we are obviously sad that we cannot host a large-scale light switch-on event, Bedford will be sparkling with shine from our Christmas lights.
“Once restrictions are lifted, we’re looking forward to welcoming back more of our incredible independents and national chain stores.”
Samantha Laycock, Chair of BedfordBID, said, “This year we’ve faced unprecedented challenges to bring the festive feeling back to Bedford Town Centre in the run up to Christmas.
“Town Centre businesses have made significant investment into not only making sure that shoppers still get a great Christmas shopping experience but are also able to enjoy the Christmas period in a safe and responsible way.
“We’ve worked hard alongside retailers in Bedford Town Centre to make sure that shoppers still get the same great Christmas shopping experience that they’re used to.
“Businesses are adapting to the changing environment and we ask you to keep up to date with their latest details plus any special events or extended opening hours. Please shop local this Christmas and support you Bedford town centre businesses.”