PLANS for a maritime-themed illuminated festival will give Poole a ‘destination event’ to rival Bournemouth’s Christmas Tree Wonderland, organizers say.
The Poole Christmas Maritime Light Festival will run for six weeks from November 19, with illuminations from the bus station to Poole Quay.
Organizers say holding two major Christmas festivals in nearby towns will encourage some visitors to stay overnight in the area and enjoy both.
The light installation trail will include an 11m ‘magic sea tree’ on the quayside, a 120m ‘sea light curtain’ above the Lower High Street, another 30m ‘light curtain’ further along from the main street, an illuminated ‘Old Harry’s Ship’ and illuminations at the bus station. There will be retail shacks, food and drink and a carousel.
Jacqui Rock, Managing Director of Poole Town Center Business Improvement District (BID), the lead sponsor, said: “I think this year will be the first year that Christmas is really celebrated across the Poole BID area.
“The festival creates individual attractions along the length of the Poole BID area forming a continuous flow from the lighthouse to Poole Quay.
“Poole has never organized such a major Christmas event which spans the whole of the city center and spans six weeks. I am particularly proud that it has been achieved without any increase in budget compared to to last year.
The BID secured a grant matching its own contribution, generating nearly £100,000 for the event.
Businesses were told of the plans at a launch event at Hennings Restaurant on Poole Quay.
Jon Weaver, Destination Manager at BCP Council, said: “We wanted to try and make it a different concept of Christmas Tree Wonderland. That’s why we’ve worked hard on the maritime theme, to deliver a different experience that won’t be Bournemouth.
Cllr Beverley Dunlop, BCP Council Cabinet Member for Tourism and Culture, said the event would help regenerate Poole.
“It’s a big priority for us. It’s really important to us to support you and help you create a quality Christmas festival for you,” she told the companies.
“There is a lot of work in this area, but everything is open to discussion.
“It’s a huge chunk of my budget that goes into it because we want it to be a huge success.
“If we have two huge Christmas festivals within a few miles of each other, that makes it a more interesting place to visit. Rather than just jumping in for the day, you can go away for a few days.
Jeanette Walsh, owner of the Truly Scrumptious confectionery, is among the commercial actors consulted on the project.
“I think as businesses we need to support this because it’s really important for people to come from outside, not just locals,” she said.
She intends to keep her own business open late Thursday through Saturday to take advantage of the extra footfall.
“We know not every business can open, but I really think it’s really important for us not to miss out,” she said.
“If it’s successful, it’s possible we could do it every year, but I think we have to commit and try to open up.”
Details are on pcmlf.co.uk