RINGWOOD Town Council have announced that due to Covid-19 restrictions, the town's popular, annual Christmas event has been cancelled.

The event, which was due to take place on November 29, had already been significantly reduced from its original format, including fairground, live street entertainment, Santa’s Grotto and the formal lights switch-on.

It was hoped that the Market which, with almost 40 stalls already booked, would still be able to go ahead, but this was not the case.

The Deputy Town Mayor and Chair of Ringwood Events Team, Philip Day said: "I know that this will come as huge disappointment to the local community who may struggle to understand the decision to cancel the market in particular, but the majority view of my councillor colleagues, who were tasked with making this very difficult decision, was that the risk of attracting large crowds into the town for the event was unacceptable.

"The stall holders who had booked a stand have been remarkably understanding. All fees that they have paid are being refunded and they are being encouraged to apply for a small number of positions at other markets still scheduled to go ahead as planned during the run up to Christmas."

Despite this cancellation, the town is determined to not let coronavirus cancel Christmas.

All shops and business in Ringwood (not solely the town centre) will be invited to take part in Ringwood’s own Winter Wanderland.

This entails business owners decorating their premises and displaying something in their shop fronts that would not normally be associated with their business.

Competitions will be held to decide on the best displays and to spot the unusual item, aiming to encourage people to wander to shops and spend their money supporting local businesses.

Town Mayor, councillor Tony Ring said: "I am in advanced discussions with Father Christmas who, based in Lapland is not currently subject to travel restrictions. He has agreed to pay a flying visit to Ringwood to help me turn the lights on and to make sure no-one misses this spectacular event.

"Ringwood TV will be on hand to record this momentous occasion for all to view on social media. He has also kindly agreed to record messages for children who will not be able to visit him in his Grotto this year and is discussing with me how he might be able to receive presents for all of the disadvantaged children to make sure that despite all of the current difficulties, they too can celebrate the season of goodwill to all."