Christmas lights countdown scrapped at city street festival

What the St Albans Christmas lights switch-on used to be like.

What the St Albans Christmas lights switch-on used to be like. - Credit: Stephanie Belton

There will be no St Albans Christmas lights switch-on this year to prevent Covid super-spreading - even though thousands of people are expected to pack out the city centre on the day.

The traditional countdown to the city centre illuminations being turned on by members of the Alban Arena panto cast usually heralds the start of the festive season.

But this year different sections of lights will be switched on throughout the day at the St Albans Christmas Cracker event on November 21.

This is to ensure that a dense throng of people do not gather before the main stage for the countdown.

Christmas lights in St Albans.

Christmas lights in St Albans. - Credit: Alastair Woodgate

Cllr Mandy McNeil, vice-chair of SADC's regeneration and business committee, who has lead responsibility for the event, said: “The pandemic is, of course, still with us and we are taking a number of precautions to guard against the virus. These include expanding the event area to create more space and providing free face masks for those that want them.

“We ask people to support our efforts in this regard by, for instance, avoiding coming to the event if they display any symptoms."

The street festival will take place from noon until 6pm on Sunday November 21, and St Peter’s Street will be closed to traffic to help create a safe and vibrant atmosphere with measures in place to guard against COVID.

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Among the attractions will be live music, a Santa’s grotto, scores of market stalls, funfair rides and street performers.

Stringent measures are in place to prevent the spread of Covid, as case numbers soar across the district.

People are asked to stay at home if they have any Covid symptoms and to take a lateral flow test before coming to the event to ensure they are negative.

Surfaces and touch points in the event area will be regularly sanitised throughout the afternoon by a dedicated cleaning staff.

When in busy areas, it is suggested people should wear a face mask to protect themselves and others.

Free disposable masks will be available while there will also be multiple hand sanitiser stations around the site.

The St Albans Christmas lights switch-on.

The St Albans Christmas lights switch-on in days gone by. - Credit: Stephanie Belton