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You are in: Black Country > Places > Places features > Walsall Illuminations - closed

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Walsall Illuminations

Walsall Illuminations - closed

The town's historic lights attraction will be closed for the next three years by Walsall Council in a bid to save money.

Walsall Illuminations '08

Walsall Illuminations '08

The future of the annual display has been in question for months due to spiralling costs and dwindling attendance.

Council bosses have announced that the Illuminations will be closed for 2009 - and the subsequent two years.

Councillor Louise Harrison, Walsall Council cabinet member for leisure, said: "After very careful evaluation we have opted to not to go ahead with the Illuminations in 2009.

"Value for money for Walsall taxpayer in these unstable economic times is paramount. The event has recorded a loss in recent years and we simply cannot risk allowing this to continue."

The Illuminations, traditionally held in the picturesque 35-acre Walsall Arboretum, will also be closed in 2010 and 2011 as the venue undergoes a makeover through a national lottery bid.

Spongebob

Spongebob

The lights have been on display every year since 1951. They suffered from a record low attendance in 2008, making a loss of £167,000.

Just over 111,000 visitors came to the attraction during its six week September - November run in 2008, compared with 377,000 in 1989.

Walsall Council hope to save up to £170,000 a year by dropping the Illuminations as part of its long term cost-cutting measures.

Do you agree that Walsall illuminations should be closed? Have your say below:

last updated: 25/02/2009 at 12:02
created: 25/09/2008

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Bill Gilmour
I live in Telford and travel every year. I cannot believe the lights lose money. Most of the lights are the same every year but in different places. So the only costs involved are putting them up, the electricity and staff.Surely 111,000 visitors at the average cost more than pays for this event. There is sponsorship money and all the money raised from the food and drink concessions and fairground. If they cannot show a profit from this event, the organisers should be sacked.If the lights were completely new each year, I might begin to understand.As a family we enjoy going each year, even if the lights don't change much.Lets start a campaign to have them restored and the current organisers removed and replaced with the many locally unemployed who I am sure could do a good job.

Me
Charge less, attract more. Simple.

Spencer James
It very Sad, travelled from Aus with familly to see the lights. The Midlands has changed for the worse and there is a definate divide in culture between the West Midlands and Staffordshire. Why not let somewhere like Lichfield stage the lights where the people would appreciate the event.

Spencer James
It very Sad, travelled from Aus with familly to see the lights. The Midlands has changed for the worse and there is a definate divide in culture between the West Midlands and Staffordshire. Why not let somewhere like Lichfield stage the lights where the people would appreciate the event.

Abigail Kirk
My daughter and son are very disappointed, last year we went to see Barney and they thoroughly enjoyed the evening and we were all looking forward to coming back this year, bring back Walsall Illuminations.

Neil Robson
My Wife and I own Sambrook House Residential Care Home and every year we have taken delighted residents to the illuminations followed by a pub meal. There is a huge amount of dissapointment this year throughout the home because of the decision to shelve the lights this year. We actually wrote to Walsall Council last year and congratulated them on their initiative to have a pre-opening for the disabled and wheel chair bound people, which was exellent. It meant that our residents (all of which were in wheel chairs) could enjoy the lights in a relaxed and non crowded atmosphere. We all understand the need to cut costs in today's economic environment but lets not cut every last peice of enjoyment - some things provide great and simple pleasure - they are what life is about and they also are so steeped in tradition that they put a place on the map. Please bring the illuminations back at the earliest oportunity!

Mike
I'm 66 now but do feel it is a shame that the lights have been canceled, but appreciate in the present financial climate, I can see that the council possible has no alternative, but will they guarantee that they will return.

ravina kumari from birmingham
i think its absolutely disgusting that the illuminations have been closed. they were the highlights of winter in Birmingham and it is truly a shame. i think that they simply over priced everything which lead people not to go. it seems quite simple that if you lowered the price then you wouldn't have the problem of people not turning up. this was one of the good things that happened in walsall and now it is such a shame that now we can't even have the light up to enjoy. winter in walsall will never be the same!

gemma parker from birmingham
Im so disappointed to find out that the illuminations are cancelled. I was looking forward to taking my daughter to see them for the first time as last year she was too young. I used to love going when i was a child and now my daughter will miss out on that experience.

sue lloyd
no they shouldn't close it, i been my daughter every year on her birthday, now it's not gona be on for three years, im very disapointed

kelly baddeley
nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo it shud nt close i woz reali lukin 4ward 2 goin dis year =(

Ryszard Kawak
the council should not close the illuminations as they represent Walsall's heritage

Jo Grant
I have just found out that the lights are not only cancelled for this year but for the next 3. What do the organisers think they are doing? Yes 07/08 weren't the best but that should be a reason to come back bigger and better and not run off with ther tails between their legs. As for a lame excuse that the park itself is having 'major' works done and it will be unsafe - that is just nonsense! This was going to be the first year that i was going to take my 18 month old daugther and we felt that it is something we could do as a family every year! Nevermind Walsall just another let down. Lets hope that in those 3 years people don't find something else better to do with their time and money and that they will come back to you in 2012 - i'm not sure i will!

rachel wassell
i have just read that the illuminations have been stopped for 3 years. what a disgrace,what is the council doing .what an awful shame.i have been and my family visiting the lights for years.they were wonderful

Julie from Leicester
I have been coming to the illuminations for many years with both my kids and my grandkids. I am upset that they will not be on for 3 years as thats a long time for a child to wait and what appeals to you when you are 6 is not so relevant when you are 9My criticism of the illuminations is that not enough stalls for the kiddies at a reasonable price ie hook a duck etc possibly could have craft stalls and better food stalls all at reasonable prices. I will be there in 2012 god willing. What am I going to do for the next 3 years for my autumn entertainment.

Angie
I live in Kidderminster and was just looking at the beems of lights on the horizon with my almost 4 year old son and remembering Walsall illuminations, thinking he is now at the age of walking around looking at lights i decided to look it up on the computer and was very disapointed to see it has been cancelled,i don't remember what year it was that i went with my family but i do remember the lazers were fantastic, I have just read the other comments and i too think it should re-open as it used to be.

Lawrence
£170 per year seems a small price to put Walsall on the map. The council should not view the lights in isolation. The event attracts people to the town as well.In recent years the displays have turned into advertisements instead of the nice grotto type displays in the past. It was always nice to see the lights around the lake but these had also been reduced in recent years.

samantha from great wyrley
i am 18 years old and i have been going to the illuminations since i was 1 and havent missed 1 yet. i personally think you should put the prices down and also make it like it used 2 be it was more fun 3/4 years ago. also the illuminations is a part of walsall and it wud b a shame to cancel it

Iain Boggis from Cannock
I and my family are very, very, disappointed at the councils decision to cancel the Illuminations for the next 3 years.As a child my parents would take the family to visit the Illuminations every year without fail. Now I take my family every year, it has been tradition for many families for decades.My thoughts are also like many other people that the price increases over the last few years have destroyed the event. Populations over the last few decades have increased so there should be more people attending each year.The council need to look at who is earning what and where the tax payers money is being wasted. Can costs be cut in other ways before the council make "LIFE CHANGING" decisions for the majority of a clearly unhappy community.

dm
No, they shouldn't!

mick. leamington spa.
ive been coming to the lights with my childen and now my grandkids for years. i did not come in 2008 because i was told it was closed for refurb.bad comuncations.dont cancel please.

Morgan Byng
I have been to the lights every year for as long as I remember! Such happy memories of the event as a child and ones that we share with our children now. I'll be hugely disappointed (as will my children) if the lights are cancelled.

Tom
reopen Walsall illuminations

lauren from Walsall
SAVE THE LIGHTS!

Catherine Goodier
We were planning to bring our Junior Church again this year. It's a lovely occasion, surprising that it's not better supported by Birmingham people. Please reconsider this closure!

TERESA
WOULD WALSALL SHOP KEEPERS FIND THAT CLOSING THE ILLUMINATIONS OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS WOULD HAVE A KNOCK ON EFFECT FOR THEM? SURELY FAMILIES THAT TRAVEL FROM AFAR FOR THE EVENT COME EARLIER IN THE DAY, LOOK ROUND THE SHOPPING CENTRE AND USE FOOD VENUES. WOULDN'T IT BE MORE BENEFICIAL TO HAVE THE LIGHTS ON OVER A SHORTER PERIOD OF TIME THIS WAY THE COUNCIL ARE SAVING 2/3 WEEKS ELECTRIC BILL,ALSO PUBLIC RESOURSE BILLS WOULD BE SMALLER THE ADMISSION FEE COULD BE LOWERED SLIGHTLY TO ENCOURAGE MORE PEOPLE TO VISIT.MONEY COULD ALSO BE SAVED BY HAVING ONLY 1 FIREWORK DISPLAY LATER ON THE FINAL EVENING

Lorraine Stubbs
I remember visiting the illuminations when I was a child. Living in Stoke-on-Trent, we used to travel in by coach, as it was well worth travelling to. Now that i've young kiddies of my own, I really wanted them to experience the magic, and am horrified that this attraction will be temporarily closed (it'll be for good, no doubt!!). Its a true family event, especially now that Blackpool is becoming more geared up for hen and stag nights. My family and I would have travelled in for shopping and the lights, but without the lights, I doubt we will bother. You cant tell me that an event like this has become 'old hat' for famillies, i've not seen it advertised anywhere, no one is willing to be ripped off during a recession, if it was made affordable traders and customers would flock.

Sharon
I think it is a real shame to lose something historical like the Walsall illuminations. Better advertising might improve attendance, many people I speak to didn't even know about it! Maybe the council could look at how they spend the money rather than just giving in.

ab
noooooooo

leanne
i think its wrong to close them till 2012 people pay tax and this year the concil have built a new college when they had a perfectly good one so they cant be losing money really tax payers deserve to have a illuminations to take there family to every year

fred kirby walsall
So the council will save £170,000 of tax payers money well that will pay for some councilors salery increase for a year . I wish more people would stick together and come out against these people in power and let the peoples voice be heard come on folk of walsall vote in next local election and get these idiots out of power .

JACKIE RODWAY
I HAVE THREE CHILDREN WHO ARE NOW GROWN UP MY OLDEST ONE IS 34 YEARS OLD AND WE HAVE BEEN GOING TO THE LIGHTS EVERY YEAR WITHOUT MISSING THEM AND HAS MY OWN CHILDREN HAS HAD THERE CHILDREN WE HAVE TAKEN OUR GRANDCHILDREN AND OUR OLDSET GRANDCHILD SAID TO ME NAN ITS THAT TIME AGAIN FOR THE LIGHTS SO I SAID I WOULD LOOK WHEN THEY START I AM SO DISPOINTED I HAVE TO TELL MY GRANDCHILD ITS NOT OPEN THIS YEAR SURELY YOU COULD HAVE MADE EFFORT TO DO FOR THE CHILDREN WHO CANNOT AFFORD TO GO TO BLACKPOOL HAS MY GRANDCHILDEN LOOK FORWARD TO THIS EVERY YEAR YOU CAN WASTE MONEY ON LOADS OF OTHER THINGS THINK OF THE CHILDREN FOR A CHANGE THANKYOU

Phil Wattson
What a shame, we have visited and enjoyed the illuminations for the last 10 years....It was upto the council to price the admission tickets so it did pay for it's self!

dopey mare
I have always gone to the illuminations. I loved it as a kid and now i take my own children. or did, until walsall council saw fit to charge extortionate prices for what should be a cheap night out.By the time i have paid for 4 of us in, maybe a coffee, a burger and some candy floss, and a couple of rides for the kids, we are talking £50+. Are walsall council really suprised that people are staying away? To be honest i would rather take them to the safari park. at least there you get a free return ticket.

Anne from Birmingham
I took my daughter to the Illuminations every year from 1985 until she was old enough to go on her own with her friends. The fact that teenagers still chose to go to see the Illuminations and mix happily with families and young children surely proves the affection they had for the them and it was a reasonably priced evening out for them. It is a real shame that Walsall has lost something that is unique to the area through over-pricing and poor management.

kate berridge
they should stay! we have been going for the past 9 years and my husband used to attend when he was a child. it is our family tradition and i am sure a tradition for many others to. how is it being run in order for it to incur a loss??

michael plunkett
i am disgusted that you are dropping the illuminations due to cost maybe if you drop or reduce the expences your councillors get each year they will be back on

stephanie
i also have been going to walsall illuminations for as long as i can remember,and now i have my own children who also love it and hopefully i will be able to take my children here every year like my parents took me as a child.So no i strongly disagree that walsall illuminations should close.I also think the price of gettin in is far to much,you spend enough in there with the kids wanting evrythink they see let alone payin alot be4 you even get in there so if anythink needs to change then it must be that

tracey sweeney
i think they are rubbish, complete waste of money, i went 2 years ago, never ever again.

miss martin
i do not think that they should be closed. this is the only family thing u can do this time of year that doesnt cost to much and its something that all familys look forward to go to. there isnt any other local event at this time of year to go to in autumn.

Nikki Upton-Smith
I am really sorry to see this news when googling for details of the illuminations opening as I intended going this year: we were unable to go last year owing to personal reasons. I have always intended to go and now my son is at the right age to enjoy an evening event such as this - he loved the Blackpool lights! We would have been bringing my mum too. This was our last chance to go as we are hoping to emigrate to Australia in 2011. Do hope somehow that Walsall can hold onto this famous event for the future.

shawn wilebore
what a shame kits such a fantastic spectacular and my boy would have been old enough to appreciate it this year

melanie young
I have 3 children and 2 grandchildren,one of my children is severly disabled and although we live in birmingham we have been coming to the walsall lights for many,many years,my son who is 16 enjoys coming to the lights as he doesnt like very big places,the walsall lights is just right for him,he thouroughly enjoys it and his face lights up when we tell him hes going to see them,without the lights we wouldnt have anywhere to take him,we have tried blackpool lights but it was too much of a long day for him and he gets cold very quick..It is a brilliant night out for the whole family..we all love it there..i really hope it doesnt close.

Sarah Wright
I live in Birmingham and when I was young my parents took me here every year and it was a brilliant night for children and parents alike, it is second to blackpool which people in the midlands continue to go to and look at the distance they will travel, I think there needs to be more advertising and you need to concerntrate on a much larger audience that Walsall as there is nothing else like it around for miles and what a shame it would be to see it go!

Gary Hall
The reason that walsall want to get rid of the illuminations is to save money and yet make more cuts to the people of walsall. The reason for declining numbers to the lights is THE PRICE, Walsall has cut its own throat by charging TOO MUCH, Also they bring in stalls to sell stuff but charge the stall holders the earth to be a part of the lights and entertainment. Then the stall holders RIP OFF the people of Walsall. Well do what you want walsall council as you always do. You should be SACKING the person who staged the marketing of the Illuminations for the past few years as it is their fault. I COULD DO A BETTER JOB THAN THEM AND MAKE A PROFIT FOR THE PEOPLE OF WALSALL. YOU SEEM TO HAVE LOST THE WILL TO BE A STRIVING COUNCIL. COME ON GET OFF YOUR BACKSIDES AND DONT GIVE IN BE POSITIVE AND MAKE THIS PART OF WALSALLS HISTORY LIVE ON.Gary of born Walsall now live Sutton Coldfield.

Anthony
Myself and my partner and our kids have attended the illuminations every year, however the ill thought out increase in entrance fee has forced us, as it has a lot of our friends, to abandon attending this year.

Bob Surch
I was born in Walsall and lived there unill I was 24. I loved going to the Arboretum to see the lights and have told many people around the world about them. I cannot imagine Walsall without the lights.

DAVID SMITH
Perhaps the attendance was lower due to the fact that Walsall Council "in their wisdom" saw fit to increase the entrance fee.This used to be an inexpensive night out for a young family, now it is a cash cow that has now failed to make money.Please keep this attraction, have fewer so called attractions, fewer stalls selling expensive food and other junk.Return it to what it was a night out at a reasonable cost.

Kevin Carter
It's easy, the key is advertising, which seamed like there was none of this year, Also entertainment for young adults wouldn't go a miss, try some live bands? There are enough in The Midlands

alan c jones
i.am upset about the walsall lights it isa rummer

IAN PAYNE [WALSALL]
This is an iconic feature of walsall culture which brings in visitors and money to the town. It is only second to BLACKPOOL and always ahs been.The powers that be should put their thinking caps on and go back to basics. Stop trying to do outlandish features when all the people want is simplicity !!!!When I was a lad it cost nout to see these wonderful lights !!!!

Mike
I am also Walsall born although I moved away some years ago. I went to the lights this year with my young children and was very dissapointed with the bland and boring selection of lights on offer. The entertainers for the children were very good however, if perhaps difficult to hear sometimes. I have gone to the lights for many years now and it saddens me to see how they have become so bland. In years gone by, there was much more variety and clever use of lights and lasers. I hope Walsall continues to hold the event but on this years showing I wouldn't like to bet on it.

Steve Gough
I'm Walsall born and bred keep them as the council waste money elsewhere, perhaps a few councillors should go especially those from outside the town.

Walsall-ite
I believe that the lights should continue. Who in their right mind would want to come to Walsall with the roads chaos. Its the councils fault. Numbers will improve when the roads do!

shannon
i enjoy the walsall illuminations! and i dont want them to close! my kids enjoy going there i take them every year! One of my children are 21 she has no kids but she still goes every year as she enjoys it she soemtimes go with me and we have a right good laugh and a good time! why should it close because then people will be unhappy as they will never see them again! Please dont close them !!xx

Gary Crutchley
This is very sad for my town, but the council have been looking to discontinue this unique attraction of ours for some years now.There is no doubt that it's the price that is driving visitors away. We have seen year on year increases, and local families cannot afford a trip to ‘the lights’ anymore. However, I am sure that if the price were lower, visitor numbers would increase. Probably profits as well.My own children love the event, and I have been attending since I was a child. But this year large areas of the park that used to be illuminated, were in darkness. It was as though no one could be bothered to do it properly. The event is being systematically run down sadly. I had a feeling that my walk around the lights this autumn would be my last, and it looks as though I was right.I feel sorry for Walsall’s children, they have had very little time to experience what was for many, many years a great annual event in Walsall.Years ago the Illuminations were a free event for locals, and in addition you couldn't move in Walsall for coaches bringing masses of visitors to the town from elsewhere. It’s only the price that has put them off.Sadly no one seems to have the vision to bring the good days back, although in my view it could be done.Gary

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