The new-format Douglas’s Christmas lights switch-on event has been hailed a success by the public and retailers.
More than 8000 people were estimated to have flocked to Douglas town centre on Thursday November 19 for an evening of live entertainment, carol singing, children’s rides, an ice sculpture, outdoor cinema, lantern parade and a Christmas craft workshop at the Henry Bloom Noble Library,
Organised by Douglas Borough Council, the attractions stretched from Duke Street to Castle Street and beyond, taking in Regent Street, Howard Street, Granville Street and Villiers Square.
Reflecting on the evening, Douglas Town Centre Manager Oliver Cheshire said: ‘A huge amount of thought and organisation went in to creating a Christmas lights event that was very different from previous years’ ceremonies and would provide something for everyone – and “everyone” includes local retailers.
‘This year trading conditions have been exceptionally difficult, given the impact of Covid-19, so it’s been really encouraging to hear such overwhelmingly positive feedback from local retailers reporting brisk business throughout the evening. We were also delighted that the Tevir Group allowed us the use of Villiers Square to stage our “Winter Wonderland”.
‘Douglas has even more to offer, with a two-day “Artisan Island at Christmas” food and drink event on Saturday December 12 and Sunday December 13 from 10am to 5pm and a “Christmas Live” event on Thursday December 17, starting at 6pm. Both these events will be in Villiers Square, the site made available, once again, by kind permission of the Tevir Group.’
Regeneration and Community Committee Chair Councillor Stephen Pitts said: ‘Traditionally the Christmas lights switch-on event marks the “official” start of the festive season in the capital. This year, however, the Council was determined that, in the face of all that has happened these past months, the event should not only deliver a magical evening of family entertainment but also and, crucially, benefit town-centre businesses. The maxim “shop Iocal”’ has never been more important, so I am pleased that so many people from around the Island chose to come to the capital that evening, to celebrate Christmas and support Douglas businesses so enthusiastically.’
The Strand Centre’s manager Wayne Robinson said: ‘Thanks to the attractions being spread out the length of the main shopping area, the Strand was much busier than in previous years when the lights were switched on. There was a really great atmosphere and I hope this year’s new format will be here to stay.’
Spencer Benham of The Book Company in Castle Street said: ‘The Christmas lights switch-on event was fantastic. Everywhere was three times busier than last year; that’s largely because the festivities extended to the whole length of the town centre and the lighting and entertainment were of such high quality.’
Edward Cox, of The Front Porch bar in Duke Street, said: ‘It was fantastic seeing Douglas town centre come alive after these unprecedented times. It was also really great watching our community come together. The different and more extensive layout of the attractions certainly drew the crowds and made for an amazing evening.’
Visitors coming by car to Douglas are reminded that there is free parking on Thursdays after 5pm in the Bottleneck, Shaw’s Brow, and Chester Street car parks; and on Saturdays and Sundays in the Bottleneck and Shaw’s Brow car parks only until December 24.