Two of the biggest events in Leicester’s festival calendar will not take place this year, as coronavirus restrictions continue to prevent people from gathering in large groups.
The major events to switch on the city’s Diwali lights – normally held in October – and the switch-on of the Christmas lights in November would usually attract tens of thousands of people.
But although both events have had to be cancelled, the city’s traditional Diwali and Christmas decorations will still light up Leicester this year.
The city council’s lighting team will start putting up the lights as normal early next month, but they will be switched on – without fanfare – by a timer.
Staff in the council’s festivals and events team are now working up ideas for alternative ways for people to mark the occasions – but what’s already clear is that the ice rink in Jubilee Square won’t be part of the plans this year.
Director of tourism, culture and inward investment Mike Dalzell said: “Social distancing requirements, and restrictions on the number of people who would be allowed on the ice at any one time, mean that bringing the ice rink to Leicester is sadly neither manageable nor affordable this year.
“But the good news is that, all being well, the ice rink will be back in Leicester in 2021.
“Christmas will be different for everyone this year, but we’re determined to make the city look more festive than ever, and we’ve already ordered a giant Christmas tree for the Clock Tower and some brand new decorations for Horsefair Street and Humberstone Gate.
“Diwali will obviously be different too, but we’re looking at a number of ideas that will allow people to mark the occasion in alternative ways.
“It’s obviously hugely disappointing that these popular events won’t be taking place this year, but with so much uncertainty around the coronavirus situation, the most important thing is that we keep people safe.”
Leicester’s traditional Bonfire Event in Abbey Park has also been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, while other popular events – such as the Cosmopolitan Arts Festival & the Leicester International Music Festival – will take place online this year.
Details of Leicester’s alternative plans for Diwali and Christmas, and information about new festive attractions for 2020, will be released in the coming weeks.