Lancaster Council axes £35k firework display from light festival finale
Lancaster residents have set up petitions in a bid to save the display
Lancaster’s annual Bonfire Night firework display has been axed for 2023 by Lancaster City Council.
The annual show usually closes the Light Up Lancaster festival with fireworks launched from the grounds of Lancaster Castle.
Thousands of tourists and city dwellers packed into Lancaster’s city centre last year to watch the display in multiple ticketed areas and from Williamson Park.
Light Up Lancaster is the city’s annual light festival held at the beginning of November.
This year’s display has been replaced with an extension of the light festival to three days instead of the usual two – from November 2nd to 4th, thanks to funding from Arts Council England (ACE), Lancaster City Council, Lancaster BID and others.
Highlights for this year’s festivities include a projection installation inside Lancaster Castle surrounding the history of The Great Cowcher, an illuminated 15th-century document referred to as the Duchy of Lancaster equivalent of the “Domesday Book.” Events will be held across the city, such as in Market Square & Dalton Square, each night between 5pm and 9pm.
More details about the Light Up Lancaster festival are available on their website.
Councillor Catherine Potter, cabinet member responsible for Visitor Economy, Community Wealth Building and Culture, defended the council’s decision to omit the fireworks display from this year’s festival.
She states that: “Light up Lancaster is an increasingly popular event, and I’m excited that it will now be taking place over an extra night in 2023. Last year, the festival attracted 58,000 people over two nights, and we’re expecting even more this year. By adding an extra date, the whole magical experience will remain a relaxed and comfortable one, particularly for families with young children.”
Potter also adds that “[the Lancaster City Council] knows that some people will be disappointed that there will be no fireworks this year but, with them being heavily dependent on good weather, there is no guarantee that they would take place and would have to be cancelled at the last minute, as has been the case in the past.”
Lancaster City Council believes that the £35,000 spent on the 17-minute display is “difficult to justify,” primarily because of the “environmental impact of fireworks and the effect they have on domestic pets and wildlife.”
Potter claims the council is “confident […] that the extra evening will more than make up for it by showcasing just how local art and culture can be used to illuminate Lancaster’s history and heritage.”
Not everyone has taken the news so well, with two Lancaster men launching a petition to save the display from being axed.
Josh Brandwood and Cameron Redpath set up their change.org petition, with both men feeling strongly about stopping the fireworks show from being cancelled.
Josh set up the petition to “urge Lancaster City Council to continue funding the firework finale, which concludes the Light Up Lancaster Festival,” as he has “personally witnessed the incredible impact that this event has on our city and its people.”
Josh claims that “the fireworks provide a breath-taking finale to the annual Light Up Lancaster Festival, attracting thousands of visitors from near and far,” as the display “not only brings joy and excitement to our community but also plays a vital role in boosting our local economy.”
According to Brandwood, the fireworks “draws in crowds who spend their hard-earned money at local businesses, supporting jobs and livelihoods,” and by continuing their funding of the display, “the council will demonstrate its commitment to supporting local businesses, fostering community cohesion, and promoting tourism,” which is “an investment in our city’s future and a testament to our collective pride.”
Josh’s petition currently has 191 signatures, with a goal of 200 signings, and is available on change.org’s website.
Lancaster disabilities campaigner Cameron Redpath also created a petition, urging Lancaster City Council to reconsider their decision to cancel the display.
Cameron claims the display is “a significant part of our community for years, bringing joy and excitement to both locals and visitors alike.”
Redpath also relays the facts as to why Lancaster City Council should reconsider, including that the display “promotes community unity […] positively impacts local businesses and the economy […] enhances Lancaster’s tourism appeal.”
He continues to explain that “safety measures can be implemented to ensure public safety” and that members of the Lancaster community “strongly supports the continuation of this tradition.”
Cameron’s petition currently has 36 signatures, and is also available on change.org’s website.
Featured image via Light Up Lancaster’s website.