Matlock Bath Illuminations profits miss council target by £37,000

Derbyshire Dales District Council hope to steer the Matlock Bath Illuminations on a better financial path in 2018.
Derbyshire Dales District Council hope to steer the Matlock Bath Illuminations on a better financial path in 2018.
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Derbyshire Dales District Council have revealed that the crowd-pleasing 2017 Matlock Bath Illuminations season did not hit its budget target.

A council meeting on Thursday, January 11, heard how the autumn showpiece, now in its 120th year, cost more than £160,000 to stage, attracting 52,087 paying visitors and making a small surplus of £15,000.

That outcome was £37,000 less than expected, although at least meant the festival came in at no cost to local Council Tax payers.

A spokesman for the council said: “The lower-than-expected return was due in part to bad weather and to more visitors taking advantage of cheaper online tickets.

“However, three Saturdays sold out, and online ticket sales had soared by 80 per cent.”

They added: “The council’s decision to reduce the capacity in Derwent Gardens from 8,000 to 6,000 helped improve the customer experience and movement of crowds, but also had an impact on income.”

The council have backed the event since the former organising company was wound up in 1983 following a season of bad weather.

It is thought that the event brings a significant boost to the local tourism economy and civic pride, but the council are mindful of the financial commitment involved.

Planning is already under way for this year’s event, with council officers having gathered feedback from people who attended in 2017, as well as town traders and the boatbuilders who form the parade.

An expanded working group for 2018 will be tasked with exploring new sponsorship opportunities, cheaper online ticketing systems, and a possible rise in ticket prices.

They will also review new lighting options, event timings, an extension to the park and ride service, and options for activities in Matlock Bath’s Memorial Gardens.

It was also decide at the meeting that compere Geoff Stevens should be invited to continue this year, after celebrating his 50th anniversary in the role in 2017.

The full report is available at www.derbyshiredales.gov.uk/committee.