The event’s parade of decorated and illuminated boats took to the River Derwent on Saturday night, watched by the second biggest first-night audience since Derbyshire Dales District Council took over the event 37 years ago.
District council leader Councillor Garry Purdy said: “The feedback from the weekend is that Illuminations visitors are delighted to be back – and the boats are breathtakingly spectacular.”
After a lights switch-on by Councillor Steve Wain, the council’s civic chairman, visitors cast their vote for their favourite boats.
David Harrison won the Arkwright and Centenary Cups and £1,000 first prize for his carousel model. David, who is a leading light in the Matlock Bath Venetian Boat Builders Association and lives in Ashbourne, will have the honour of leading the 2021 parade down the river every weekend until October 31.
Cromford’s Ian Page won the Plumtree Cup and £900 in cash for his GhostBusters’ car Ecto-1 which was voted runner-up.
The Matlock Motley Bunch – comprising Christine Dence, Richard Wood and Pete Hartshorn – won the Sheffield Wire Rope Cup and £800 in cash for their Sonic the Hedgehog and Dr Eggman boat which came third.
Competing for the 50th year, Matlock’s Dave Gregory won the Dave Sanderson Trophy and £700 in cash for his fourth-placed Convert-a-Car from Wacky Races.
All non prize-winners received £600 for taking part in the friendly competition.
The Illuminations fireworks nights in October are now all sold out as the maximum capacity in Derwent Gardens has been reduced to 4,000.
Coun Purdy said: “Covid caused the cancellation of last year’s Illuminations but we were determined to bring it back for a 123rd year, albeit on a slightly reduced scale.”