The Witney Christmas Lights Switch-on Event 2020 has been cancelled. Although there will be no big Switch-on Event, there will still be Christmas lights in Market Square.
We now know that the Witney Christmas Lights Switch-on Event 2020 organised by the Rotary Club of Witney and grant funded by Witney Town Council is not going to take place. This is down to the ongoing pandemic and potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. It is just one of the many cancelled large events across Oxfordshire.
The Switch-on, due to take place on Friday 27 November attracts thousands of people to the Market Square which would have made it impossible to maintain safe social distancing and comply with coronavirus control measures in crowds of that volume.
The popular Children’s Advent Fayre run by Witney Town Council will not take place on Sunday 29 November either, as the nature of the activities makes sanitisation between users and sessions impractical.
The Town Council shares a deep sense of disappointment along with everyone that normally attends these important community events. Public safety and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic precludes traditional events that draw large crowds being held, for the best of reasons, but it is still hard to come to terms with the postponement and cancellation of so many.
The Christmas lights will still appear in the Market Square, and these will be turned on by the contractors once installed. This year, there will be an extra Christmas tree outside the Corn Exchange too.
Councillor Luci Ashbourne has suggested that families and businesses across the town hold their own mini switch-on of Christmas lights at 6.00 pm on the town’s traditional Switch-on night so that our town is still illuminated. Councillors have also agreed to reinstate the Best Decorated House competition, so will be looking for the homes with the biggest impact in their wards from which to select a winner.
Councillor Ashbourne said, "Although we can’t all be together in person, we’re determined that this Christmas, Witney’s community spirit will still shine through – literally!
"We’d love as many people and businesses as possible to have their own switch-on on November the 27th, lighting lanterns, trees or fairy lights in their doorways, gardens or windows, to prove that even though we must stay apart, we can all still play a part."
Councillor Owen Collins, Chair of the Stronger Communities committee added, "It’s with enormous regret we’ve had to scale back the traditional celebrations this year, but public safety is paramount and sadly we had little alternative.
"Despite the lack of events, I’m certain the lights themselves will look as beautiful and festive as ever, and I hope that the people of Witney will join us in simultaneously turning on their own lights – large or small – on the 27th of November and helping to provide some much-needed light in these dark times!"