THOUSANDS of people are expected to flock into Huddersfield town centre for an early Christmas extravaganza.
The Festival of Light will be spread across three nights at the start of December – and the aim is it will be a massive boost for town centre businesses.
The event promises two nights of spectacular action from an international line-up followed by a firework display on the third night.
The aim is to attract people from well outside Huddersfield into the town after last year’s event drew people from as far away as Birmingham and London.
This year’s festival features a majestic mix of rock music and daredevil airborne acrobatics from Argentinian/Spanish troupe Grupo Puja, who will perform in St George’s Square on December 2 and 3.
Contemporary dance group Retouramont will be perform a suspended ballet down the walls of Huddersfield Art Gallery while French light installation artists Tilt will be ‘planting’ a garden of giant illuminated flowers in St Peter’s Gardens.
Back for a second year are festival favourites including the Winter Food and Drink Market and The Christmas Art Market at Huddersfield Art Gallery.
And to make sure the festival literally ends with a bang a giant firework finale will take place in St George’s Square on December 4.
Other attractions and fringe events are yet to be confirmed.
Last year’s festival attracted 25,000 visitors despite poor weather, boosting trade for town centre businesses.
Kirklees Council leader Clr Mehboob Khan said: “The Festival of Light has been growing each year.
“Last year was the first year we extended it to a full programme of entertainment in addition to the main show.
“The festival really does put Huddersfield on the map – it not only draws audiences from the local area but from outside Kirklees and beyond Yorkshire too.
“Last year I met a family from Chelsea who had travelled up to Huddersfield by train and then spent three days here enjoying the festival and visiting tourist sites in the Holme Valley.
“Outside Leeds, Huddersfield is the most economically active town in West Yorkshire with a bigger spend than Wakefield, Bradford and Halifax. It really is important that the council invests in the town with flagship events like the Festival Of Light to ensure that local businesses benefit and jobs are sustained.
“We had 25,000 visitors in the town centre last year and estimated that each spent £50 – and that was a modest estimate. They spent their money in restaurants and retail outlets and the feedback from businesses is that it was the busiest nights they had had for several years, including just before Christmas. The Byram Arcade especially benefited from the event.
“This event is now an essential part of the Town Centre Business Association’s business plan.’’
Clr Khan added: “I’m very proud that we have such a unique event in Huddersfield and that it is free for all to enjoy.
“On an economic level, the festival benefits our local businesses.
“It gave some of the shops in Byram Arcade their busiest day in over seven years last year – and we’re keen to build on this.
“We’re currently talking to all sorts of businesses about how they can get involved, put on events and attract festival-goers into their premises and we hope to be able to announce details of this in coming weeks.”
For more information on Huddersfield Festival of Light visit: www.huddersfieldlightfest.co.uk