Cheltenham would have been gearing up for the return of Light Up Cheltenham this weekend. The giant observation wheel would have been in place in Imperial Gardens. This time next week, many of Cheltenham’s stunning Regency buildings would have been bathed in coloured light.
However, due to the continuing threat of COVID-19 and present lockdown, Light Up Cheltenham cannot go ahead in 2021.
The event, launched by Cheltenham BID in 2018, has seen thousands of people come to town during what would normally be a very quiet time of the year. The annual event has grown and gone from strength to strength in recent years, becoming a firm favourite with local residents and those from further afield.
Spark!, the world-renowned street theatre drumming group, has kicked each year’s event off with a bang, while 2019 was the first year to host the popular Observation Wheel in Imperial Gardens. February 2020 saw over 30 buildings beautifully illuminated, attracting thousands of visitors to the town centre over three weeks.
Belinda Hunt, BID operations manager, said: “When we launched Light Up Cheltenham, we knew it would be popular and draw people into town during the hours of darkness throughout February. We wanted something that would appeal to a wide demographic and support the Night Time Economy businesses.
“We felt that the financial commitment to light up the town would not be a responsible use of levy-payer’s contributions, as the businesses the event is designed to benefit remain closed.”
Cheltenham BID continues to support town centre businesses in many ways, including remaining available to provide advice or answer queries, promote lockdown services across social media, tidy up the town centre and support the work of Visit Cheltenham and Cheltenham Borough Council.
Photography: Mikal Ludlow