A HOST of new attractions is being lined up to tempt visitors to Marsden this year.
Ghosts, chocolate and birds of prey are all among the themes for events at the award-winning Standedge Tunnel and Visitor Centre.
It will open its doors for the 2008 season on March 15 and a series of activities will run through to October.
The first event, on March 23, is a workshop explaining the history of chocolate, with hands-on experience of making ‘treats’.
The final event could be more of the ‘trick’ variety, a Hallowe’en night guided boat trip with ghosthunter David Vee on October 31.
Last year the Standedge Tunnel Experience was shortlisted for the White Rose Awards, and a British Waterways Award for Excellence.
It was also commended by the VisitBritain tourism organisation for the second year running in its Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Service report.
Standedge is the highest, longest, and deepest canal tunnel in the country.
It links the Huddersfield Narrow Canal between Yorkshire and Lancashire.
The canal was restored to full use after a long campaign by enthusiasts.
Other events this year include a display of birds of prey from Sion Falconry Centre on May 25, with opportunities to handle kestrels and eagles.
August 23-31 sees an Artsfest week, with exhibitions, workshops and displays.
And Marsden Jazz Festival will be held from October 11-12.
The £2m centre opened in 2001 but faced problems in luring visitors. It closed in 2005 before being reopened with more free attractions in 2006.
However, Steve Hemming, British Waterways’ leisure business manager for Yorkshire, is confident Standedge is now on the right track.
He said: “Standedge enjoyed great success in 2007, with increased visitor numbers and winning a hat-trick of awards.
“There is an impressive mixture of events planned for 2008, with something happening each month from March through to the October. There will be something to appeal to all tastes.
“We will be making every effort to attract more people to this lovely spot in the Pennines and intend to go all out for this year’s White Rose Awards.”
For more information visit www.standedge.co.uk