A PAIR of popular Christmas festivals that usually take place in South Lakeland will not go ahead this year, it has been announced.

The events at Ambleside and Windermere have been cancelled amid ongoing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Richard Attenborough, a director of Christmas Lights Limited, which organises the Ambleside event, said the organising team did not want to ‘run the risk of having large numbers of people coming into the town and not social distancing, and having no way to control that’.

“We realised that, with the new variants that were in circulation and the infection rates, it was probably a bit too early to run the risk of a normal return,” he said.

The lights will still go up in the town, however, and the popular window display competition will take place as normal.

The contest sees shops battle it out to produce the most impressive display and win votes from the public - which people can submit via a scannable QR code accompanying the display or on the Ambleside Christmas Lights website.

Two voters - one with a local postcode and one from further afield - are then selected to be the recipients of a £20 gift card for a competing shop of their choice.

“It will maintain a festive atmosphere in the town and it will encourage people to look around the town,” said Mr Attenborough.

Bosses of the Windermere celebration said the decision not to hold it had been taken amid the ongoing threat of events being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesman for the event, which was due to take place on December 11 and 12, said the organising team would be unable to host the celebration again ‘if we ran with it this year and the event had to be cancelled’.

“We need to ensure the future of the event,” he said.

“We are a newish event and do not have the sustainability as other events do.”

He stressed the decision to cancel the event ‘was not taken lightly’.

Windermere councillor Ben Berry said: “The people and businesses of Windermere will very much miss the event two years in a row, but we have secured the event for the future, when we can roll out bigger and better.

“The decision wasn’t easy but, to make sure we can continue to put the event on, we had to act now.”

Event director Kate Barton, of Windermere Tourist Information Centre, vowed the celebration would be back and said: “We are having lots of talks about future events for 2022 and look forward to rolling these out over the next 12 months."