CORONAVIRUS: Summer fun in Leyland is off - so can Christmas offer some hope?

The man behind the cancelled Leyland Festival says he is working on a Christmas light switch-on that people can look forward to – in the hope that the coronavirus crisis has abated by the end of the year.

Martin Carlin, chair of the festival and the Leyland Town Team, has turned his attention to the winter months after the showcase summer Saturday became the latest Lancashire leisure event to be cancelled amid the Covid-19 outbreak. It had been due to take place on 20th June.

Leyland at Christmas

Leyland at Christmas

The inaugural Leyland In The Park music festival – set to be staged 24 hours earlier – has also been scrapped by organisers South Ribble Borough Council.

The authority said that it had taken the “difficult decision” to pull the plug on performances by Tony Hadley, T’Pau, Doctor and the Medics and Pat Sharp, in light of government advice about delaying the spread of coronavirus. It is feared that a peak in cases could come over the early summer.

All tickets for Leyland In The Park will be refunded. The process will depend on where they were purchased, but ticket-holders will be contacted directly.

Meanwhile, Martin said that he wants to give disappointed concert and festival-goers – and the rest of Leyland – some hope on the horizon for later in the year.

“We’ll be announcing a date very soon for the Christmas light switch-on and we’re going to make sure that it’s a big spectacle that people can look forward to after all this,” Martin pledged.

He added that the summer schedule would be back in 2021, because that is “now what is expected for the town”.

“Obviously we were disappointed to have to cancel this year’s events, but we have to protect the public, so there was nothing else we could do.

“We were so close to completing the preparations, but these events will happen again.”

The festival was due to feature the annual parade – a feature of the event for 130 years – along with a procession of vintage vehicles to celebrate the town’s motoring heritage.

The Factory to Festival Bike Ride was also set to be a key part of the event. Organised by Leyland Trucks’ Helping Hand charity, it would have seen riders complete their choice of three cycling routes of either 30, 75 or 120 miles in length. Whatever course was chosen, each would have started at the Leyland Trucks factory and finished in Worden Park.