Let there be light this Christmas

Ripon's Christmas Lights
Ripon's Christmas Lights

I know it is still only September but I did say last month that I would talk about the festive period in this month’s column.

As I write this article, there are 100 days until Christmas, meaning of course there are even fewer days until the Christmas Lights switch-on. This will take place on Saturday, November 25, with music, entertainment and the traditional countdown to the lights being switched on in the presence of Santa.

In the next few days Ripon Together will be launching a community fundraising campaign for the Christmas Lights.

Ripon Together is a Community Interest Company, and was established to encourage organisations and members of the community to work together to improve the city.

Their fundraising target will be £3,250, and for every pound raised through this campaign Ripon City Council will contribute another pound and Harrogate Borough Council will add a further two pounds.

Together with other money given to the city this will mean that potentially £16,000 is available to spend on the Christmas Lights but only if the fundraising target is met.

This budget may sound large, but it is needed to cover all the costs for testing, installing, taking down and storing the lights, as well as adding to the progress made each year with replacing lights as they become life-expired and adding more lights to the city centre streets. Last year saw the addition

of more lights to Moss’s Arcade and North Street.

Unfortunately, this year a number of our existing large cross-street decorations have been tested in advance of installation and have failed. These decorations are usually found on High Skellgate, Westgate, Kirkgate / Duck Hill, North Street and Fishergate. Together with the decoration on the

front of the Town Hall, which was found to be faulty during installation last year, repair or replacement of these lights is the priority, if we are to maintain the standard of the display.

From current estimates, there may be a small amount of money left over, and any surplus will be used to buy and install new lights across the city. More details on how exactly the money will be spent will be available on the fundraising website which will be launched very soon. We hope that everyone who lives or works in and around the city, organisations and businesses will support Ripon Together by making a donation and helping to promote the fundraising campaign. We need your help to achieve the fund-raising target. If we cannot raise the target of £3,250 then, reluctantly, fewer Christmas lights will be installed and that would be a real shame given the improvements in recent years.

The Christmas Lights provide an important back drop to the festive period in the city centre. The City Development Team has been working on planning and organising more Christmas events for several weeks now, and will be producing the Discover Ripon Christmas Events guide to promote events taking place throughout the city during late November and December. We have already noticed, as we begin to pull together information for the guide, that more events are being planned than ever before, including new events planned at the Canal Basin and St Wilfrid’s Roman Catholic Church.

If you are planning a new event during the Christmas period and would like it to be promoted on the Discover Ripon website, Facebook and Twitter pages, in the events guide and on the noticeboards around the city then please send details to: info@discoverripon.org.

Or, for more information about the Ripon Together Christmas Lights fundraising campaign please contact me at: alan@discoverripon.org.