FESTIVE celebrations have been hit with another blow with the cancellation of the proposed Christchurch Living Advent Calendar event.

Plans were being made to mark Advent with 24 days of charity performance pop-ups across the town.

They were due to start at Christchurch Priory on December 1, finishing at Saxon Square on Christmas Eve.

But organisers have reluctantly pulled the plug on this year's event due to expected restrictions of group activities under coronavirus social distancing rules.

The news comes after it was revealed that the Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland event has been scrapped, along with ice skating in the Lower Gardens.

The Rotary Club of Christchurch has stressed that the new Advent event will now take place in 2021.

Janet Banks, Chair of the organising group, said: "The idea for a Living Advent Calendar originated in Stockholm, with the first being held in 2005. Today, there are Living Advent Calendars in many towns in Sweden and other countries, with the first in UK being held in 2011 in Henley on Thames.

"We had a very positive response from several venues, performers and charities, and were developing a lovely programme of 8 ‘taster’ sessions for this December (2020), even though the COVID crisis meant that there was insufficient time to organise a full 24-session programme.

"So it is with great sadness that we have made the difficult decision not to proceed with the event at all this year. This is because, with the current social distancing restrictions, we are unable to stage the event - and we do not expect that the situation will change sufficiently by December.

"The problems may get worse as winter arrives and we face the possibility of a second wave. The health and safety of everyone involved, the performers, the volunteers at all of the evenings, the attending public and, of course, our Living Advent team, must be our primary concern. We do hope that the situation will have greatly changed by December 2021."

Chris McClaverty, President of Christchurch Rotary, added: "The club very willingly put its back behind this project, and will do so again in 2021. We share the disappointment of the organisers, and thank all those who have come forward to help. We look forward to a much more cheerful December next year."