THE Valley of Lights festival has been deemed “an unprecedented success” by organisers after 10,000 people attended events in the upper Calder Valley.
Following a successful launch in Todmorden, thousands of people lined the streets of Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd for the lantern parades last week as the area showed it is open for business after a traumatic year.
The festival, organised by Totally Locally and partners and funded by Calderdale Council, has been hailed as a major landmark in the upper Calder Valley’s recovery from the summer floods.
Chris Sands, of Totally Locally, said all three events had delivered “magical memories” for everyone who was there.
“Todmorden rocked at the first evening, Hebden Bridge was heaving with visitors and Mytholmroyd was incredible, with a local historian telling us it was the biggest turnout for the town since World Peace Day in 1919,” he said.
“Mytholmroyd people seemed to be particularly proud, with many reports of tears when the parade came over the hill.
“Every performer, musician, lantern maker, sculptor, artist and supplier for Valley of Lights, many with international reputations, came directly from the local area, which just goes to show what an incredibly diverse and vibrant part of the world we live in.”
Traders have reported an increase in business on parade nights as people flocked to the area.
Nigel Goddard, from Totally Locally, said: “Many of the shops who were recently hit by the floods had incredibly busy nights.
“People were reporting new customers from outside the area and people who lived close by all discovered new shops and market stalls, many saying they would be back.
“This is the boost for the local economy we were wanting.”
Coun Barry Collins, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for economy and environment, said: “The thousands of people who enjoyed the three events can be in no doubt that Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd are strong, vibrant places to visit and, hopefully, they will return again and again in the future.”
The council will continue to work with local people, groups and organisations to build on the success of the Valley of Lights and to help make the upper Calder Valley more resilient to flooding.
“Together we created something which will live long in the memory of local residents and visitors from right across Yorkshire and Lancashire,” Coun Collins said.
“The council is proud to have sponsored the project and warmly congratulates those who organised and delivered it.”
There has been lots of positive feedback from people who attended the events.
Kerry McQuade said: “I danced, cried, whooped and rejoiced in Hebden and Mytholmroyd.”
Ralph Nimmann said: “It was an amazing outburst of creativity and community spirit.”
The success of the festival has led to calls for it to become an annual event.
The Night Bike Ride proved so popular that organisers are already planning to stage a similar event next summer.