New Plymouth’s Festival of Lights canceled due to Covid restrictions

This year's TSB Festival of Lights in New Plymouth has been cancelled.

SIMON O’CONNOR/Things

This year’s TSB Festival of Lights in New Plymouth has been cancelled.

The country’s best-known and longest-running light show was shelved this summer.

The TSB Festival of Lights, held at Pukekura Park in central New Plymouth during the holiday season for nearly 70 years, has been the latest victim of Covid cancellations.

The New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) made the long-awaited announcement Thursday and said that although a number of options are being considered, it is not possible to organize the event logistically amid current restrictions.

Teresa Turner of the NPDC said it was a huge disappointment and not a decision taken lightly.

READ MORE:
* Most of the damaged Light Festival screen has been repaired
* A guide to Taranaki’s musical summer
* Taranaki festival of lights that never stop

“Sadly, and like other event organizers around Aotearoa, we found it logistically impossible to hold an event that attracted up to 150,000 people over six weeks in an open setting like Pukekura Park, under current restrictions and uncertainties about traffic light changes.” said.

Turner said it was also a blow to the artists, artists, sponsors and businesses that were empowered by the iconic event.

SIMON O’CONNOR/THINGS

Festival of Lights in Taranaki.

“We waited as long as possible to find a way to make it happen, but it just wasn’t possible.”

The decision was taken on the advice of Taranaki County Health Board and Government officials.

It follows the cancellation of Taranaki’s Christmas in the Grail and festive parades in the area for the same reason.

The festival is a major domestic tourism event that comes with a price tag of around $700,000 to stage.

The 2019-20 festival attracted 150,000 visitors, 46 percent of the exhibitors from outside the region.

The Manta Rain lighting installation across the Poet Bridge was one of many projects that illuminated the park at last year's festival.

SIMON O’CONNOR/Things

The Manta Rain lighting installation across the Poet Bridge was one of many projects that illuminated the park at last year’s festival.

It contributes millions of dollars to the regional economy every year.

The festival requires approximately 16 kilometers of cable, the use of 1,200 lighting fixtures and boasts an array of individual light installations, live music events, New Year’s Eve party, food trucks, daytime activities and outdoor movies.

The government announced last month that kiwis need to be vaccinated if they want to go to big events over the summer, and their vaccination certificates will be introduced this month.

The vaccination rate among the entire eligible population in Taranaki, which is currently on alert level 2, is 86 percent for the first shot and 72 percent for the second shot, against the national average of 89 percent and 79 percent.

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom has previously said it will be difficult to manage vaccination certificates at free events like the Festival of Lights.

“We rely on volunteers. “You need 100 people and even then you can pull over to the side of the road and jump through the bushes,” he said.

“A great park with lots of ways in and out.”

The festival was celebrated in 1954 by Queen Elizabeth II in January of that year. It’s grown since it began during Elizabeth’s visit, when park workers asked her to install lights at a new fountain in the lower lake and run a light cable across the Poet’s Bridge on the main lake.

The waterfall next to the main lake was first illuminated in 1970.

BROK SOAP / Stuff

The waterfall next to the main lake was first illuminated in 1970.

Four years later, the first Christmas lights were installed in the park, which became a regular event throughout the summer.

Then in 1970 the waterfall next to the main lake was illuminated for the first time. It remains one of the park’s most beloved features.

Music and entertainment acts were introduced in the 1970s, followed by the children’s program Summer Scene in 1990.

Three years later it was decided it was time to give lights, music and events a name, and the Festival of Lights was born.

x