With the COVID-19 Pandemic and the subsequent restrictions having caused many planned social events throughout the summer to be cancelled, this trend seems to be continuing, with winter and Christmas events now also hanging in the balance. However, Southampton City Council have announced the cancellation of events leading up to and around the festive period, including the Christmas Markets, Remembrance Service and various running races.
Their initial decision was to cancel events up to the end of October, however, this has now been reviewed and was announced on 28th September 2020 that they have suspended consent for all large events hosted on council land until the end of 2020.
There are various events that will be impacted including two running races hosted on Southampton Common: the MoRun in November, in aid of Movember, and the Southampton Common 10k, which is normally in December. Another significant event that will not go ahead is the Remembrance Service, due to take place on Remembrance Sunday 8th November, which remembers the sacrifices made by the Armed Forces. This event normally attracts around 2,000 people. Many festive events have been cancelled too, including the popular Southampton Christmas Market on Above Bar Street in the city centre, which runs throughout November and December, and Singing In The Square, which is where many local choirs gather to sing Christmas carols together. Additionally, there will be no official Christmas lights switch-on event.
This doesn’t mean, however, that Southampton will be bare of Christmas lights this year, lights will be displayed throughout the city, including in the student area of Portswood. The Council also plans to work with GO! Southampton to ensure there are some safe activities in the city centre, which will include lights and a Christmas tree.
Southampton City Council made this decision in line with government legislation and guidance and to ensure the health and safety of local people, explained Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Culture and Homes at Southampton City Council. He also said that efforts are being made to organise virtual events instead, if possible.
The Council is subsequently urging private landowners to reconsider the nature size of the events they are planning to prevent the spread of infection, and have also said they have the powers to intervene if they are forced to.