The director of The Rock has explained why it has decided to skip the Christmas light switch-on this year in Bury, as business booms in the town ahead of the big day.

Festive celebrations are in full swing in the town with decorations unveiled around the town and at The Rock, which usually plays host to the annual event.

In 2018, The Rock put on an all-star line up included pop band, 5 After Midnight, CBeebies’ Mr Bloom and groups including the Carol Godby Theatre Workshop.

This year, however, The Rock announced it would be forgoing its Christmas lights switch-on event, which has taken place at the beginning of November in recent years.

Arnold Wilcox-Wood, centre director at The Rock, explained that the decision to scrap the switch-on was down to protecting public health during the pandemic.

He said it was also a chance to put on fresh Christmas attractions. 

He added: "We stopped holding a light switch on in 2019 due to Covid and not wishing to bring crowds of people together with a corresponding threat to health.

"When we started to plan Christmas 2022 even though the threat of Covid had decreased we decided that we would concentrate on providing a new set of exciting Christmas decorations with an additional giant Christmas tree outside of Barclays Bank and  other new lighting attractions such as the Welcome Arch outside of Superdry that can be enjoyed through November to  January as opposed to a light switch on lasting just one day."

Bury Times: Christmas decorations on The Rock, BuryChristmas decorations on The Rock, Bury (Image: Isabel Oldman/Newsquest)

The centre has provided a number of other activities for families, including pot making, face painting and story time with Peter Rabbit for youngsters.

Despite switch-ons taking place in neighbouring towns such as Bolton, Ramsbottom and Walshaw, those in Bury say they did not miss the event in their own town saying the town centre decorations have been enough. 

Bury Times: The Christmas present installation outside Dunkin' on The RockThe Christmas present installation outside Dunkin' on The Rock (Image: Isabel Oldman/Newsquest)

Stall holders at Bury Market on Wednesday said they had not been aware of change but didn’t think it would affect business in the town.

One stallholder said: “It’s lovely to see that there are lights up at The Rock this year, do we really need the [Christmas light switch-on]?

“Do we need the extra cost of having a switch on, I don’t know how much business it brings in.”

Another agreed, saying that the market in particular has been very busy and that she hadn’t noticed the lack of a Christmas lights switch-on this year, but it would be good for the town.

Bury Times: Christmas market stalls on The Rock, BuryChristmas market stalls on The Rock, Bury (Image: Isabel Oldman/Newsquest)

“They should definitely do something, Bury is a big town, but [the market] is rocking here today," the stallholder added.

Shoppers at the market agreed, saying they hadn’t realised there hadn’t been a Christmas lights switch-on event, but that any festive event is a boon for Bury. 

One shopper said: “You lack the Christmas spirit without these kinds of things.”

Cllr Russell Bernstein, leader of the Bury Conservatives, said he hoped people had not been disappointed.

He said: “I hope the lack of lights does not dampen the spirits and reduce the feel of Christmas for the shoppers and visitors into the town centre, to all of whom I wish a Merry Christmas and all the very best for 2023.”