THE Valley of Lights extravaganza has been hailed as a huge hit by the people of Todmorden, with calls for it to become an annual event.
The festival, which was launched in Todmorden last month when 3,000 people lined the streets for a lantern parade through the town, proved popular with residents, visitors and traders alike as it showed that the town is open for business following a traumatic year. The festival, organised by Totally Locally and partners and funded by Calderdale Council, has been hailed as a major landmark in the upper Calder Valley’s recovery from the summer floods.
Nigel Goddard, of Totally Locally, said: “Todmorden did itself proud. The town came out in force to celebrate, and the place was packed with happy faces to see the incredible lantern parade with fire jugglers, illuminated bands, hundreds of lanterns and huge light sculptures. The fire finale at the end was breathtaking.
“It was a stunning night, but for us the bit that really mattered is that the town’s many businesses did a roaring trade.
“Many of the shops that were recently hit by the floods had incredibly busy nights. People were reporting new customers from outside the area and people who lived close by all discovered new shops and market stalls, many saying they would be back.
“This is the boost for the local economy we were wanting.”
Many people from Todmorden also attended the parades in Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd last week.
Chris Sands, from Totally Locally, said the Valley of Lights had created “magical memories” for everyone who was there.
“Todmorden rocked at the first evening, Hebden Bridge was heaving with visitors and Mytholmroyd was incredible,” he said.
“Every performer, musician, lantern maker, sculptor, artist and supplier for Valley of Lights, many with international reputations, came directly from the local area, which just goes to show what an incredibly diverse and vibrant part of the world we live in.”
The festival has received lots of positive feedback from people involved and those who attended the events.
Mary Clear, of Incredible Edible Todmorden, said: “We had a dream and went for it, and it was beautiful.
“Tod folk were speechless with amazement and for me that’s what it’s all about.”
Coun Barry Collins, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for economy and environment, said: “The thousands of people who enjoyed the three events can be in no doubt that Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd are strong, vibrant places to visit and, hopefully, they will return again and again in the future.”
The council will continue to work with local people, groups and organisations to build on the success of the Valley of Lights and to help make the upper Calder Valley more resilient to flooding.
“Together we created something which will live long in the memory of local residents and visitors from right across Yorkshire and Lancashire,” Coun Collins said.
“The council is proud to have sponsored the project and warmly congratulates those who organised and delivered it.”
The success of the festival has led to calls for it to become an annual event.
The Night Bike Ride from Todmorden to Mytholmroyd proved so popular that organisers are already planning to stage a similar event next summer.