Home   Tenterden   News   Article

Tenterden's Christmas lights called off amid energy price rises

Residents have been left "gutted" as a long-awaited Christmas lights show has been cancelled months before it was due to come to town.

The much-anticipated display in Tenterden, near Ashford, has been pulled along with its popular festive market amid "spiralling costs".

Seren Welch and Natasha Mahoney run the Christmas market every year
Seren Welch and Natasha Mahoney run the Christmas market every year

The event's organisers Seren Welch and Tash Mahoney were forced to make the difficult decision despite a successful fundraising campaign last year.

They say funds for the Christmas market raised through grants and stallholders' fees are usually enough to cover costs – but the projected bill for electricity, insurance and first aid had "almost tripled".

The pair announced the decision in a statement on social media, saying it had been made with "an absolutely heavy heart".

"This is not a decision that we have taken lightly, but have had to take faced with continual spiralling costs and uncertainties," they said.

"We have applied for many grants, and tried to get the event underwritten for a large deficit.

"But one of the biggest pain points throughout is that we would have had to pass most of those costs on to our stallholders and remove many of the things that make the Christmas market, a festive Christmas market!"

Crowds at a previous Tenterden Christmas market
Crowds at a previous Tenterden Christmas market

They added that stalls would have had to increase by a minimum of between £50 and £100, and that by making the decision now they hoped to give stallholders a chance to move on to other markets.

It was also revealed that the much-anticipated lights show could not go ahead without its market counterpart, even ignoring its own rising costs.

It was set to be styled on the hugely popular illuminations at Bedgebury at Christmas, which will go ahead this year.

Ms Welch and Ms Mahoney said: "The delivery of the [market and lights show] was always interdependent to enable cost savings. However, the pending challenges around escalating energy bills, hikes in raw material costs and subsequent increases in service provision charges has resulted in them both being untenable," Ms Welch and Ms Mahoney said.

"By taking this painful decision now, we can reimburse all individuals, businesses and organisations 100% from the 2021 crowd funding campaign, so that they can redeploy those funds elsewhere. This does have a cost implication to the Christmas in Tenterden Community Interest Company, but is one that we 100% will honour and absorb.

"We can’t even begin to tell you the hours / lengths we have gone to to make this work for the town, but as two residents, we just can’t underwrite a town event of this scale.

"We were blown away by the support from individuals and businesses this time last year by the financial pledges of support, and for that we can’t thank you enough. But, none of us could have predicted the current situation following the impact of the pandemic last year.

"I totally understand your difficult decision and I just hope, for the towns sake, that we see an event or events from you both in the not too distant future...."

"We know many of you will find this news deeply disappointing and we hope that you will understand our situation. This has been an incredibly stressful and difficult decision for us to take, but by taking it now we can at least 100% reimburse everyone at a time when finances are increasingly needed.

"We are so very sorry to have to let you all down, neither of us have found it easy to let go and admit defeat, but we hope you can understand our position and support our reasons for taking this path."

Following the announcement over social media, a number of residents have responded to pass on their sadness – but support – over the decision.

Carol Stevens said: "We are all so so sad - mainly for you two lovely people, who have worked tirelessly to continue to bring this wonderful event to the town, and can totally understand how gutted you both must be.

"We will miss the event hugely - our favourite of the whole year, and hope with all our hearts that it will be possible next year to bring back the wonderful Tenterden Christmas Market.

"We’re all behind you and I’m sure we’ll all be back before we know it. So sorry that all your hard work this year has been wasted, but we all appreciate you both hugely and you can’t keep two good women down!"

Josephine Clark said she was "gutted" by the decision, which she said was the "highlight of the year".

"I totally understand your difficult decision and I just hope, for the towns sake, that we see an event or events from you both in the not too distant future.

"You are both a breath of fresh air and not churning out mediocre events. Good luck guys, onwards & upwards - I’m sure it’s not the last we’ve heard of Tenterden CIC!"

Despite Tenterden's experience of increasing costs, the hugely popular annual Christmas lights extravaganza at Bedgebury shows no sign of being cancelled.

The after-dark trail in Goudhurst, Tunbridge Wells, is running from Friday, November 18, to Monday, January 2, 2023.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More