Members of The Highland Council’s Inverness City Committee will be asked on Monday (15 September) to give the green light to a new look community-based winter festival.
The Festival will start with the switch on of the Christmas Lights at the Town House on Thursday 20 November and culminate with a Hogmanay Party at the Northern Meeting Park Arena.
The Festival Programme will include two major outdoor events:
• the St Andrew’s Day celebration on Saturday/Sunday 29/30 November, which will feature a torchlight procession to the Northern Meeting Arena on the night of Sunday 30 November and two concerts by the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, a charity Firewalk and a Mass Strip the Willow;
• the Inverness Hogmanay concert which will feature a number of local bands, traditional music, Highland Dancing, Piping, the Winners of the Inverness Has Talent competition and a mystery Encore event.
It is also planned to turn Inverness into a canvas for an exciting series of projections on famous Inverness buildings. Included in these will be the first Inverness Advent Calendar clock which will be projected on to Inverness Castle and generate a £100 present for one local charity every day.
One of the most eagerly anticipated events in the Festival will see The Highland Council’s Lighting Department working with Evanton-based company Arts in Motion to transorm Ness Islands into a magical Santa’s Grotto between 15 December and 6 January 2009.
All the Festival events organised by the Council will have free entry, with the Common Good Fund contributing £205,000 towards the costs. Sponsorship will be sought if the City Committee gives the go ahead to the festival.
The proposals have been drawn up by the City Committee’s Winter Festival Working Group, chaired by Councillor Roy Pedersen, in association with Council officials and consultation with local businesses and community groups.
Councillor Pedersen said: “In a relatively short period of time, we have pieced together an imaginative and exciting programme, which is community based and directed at benefiting the people and businesses of the city.
“It represents real value for money and I have been delighted at the support we have received already from councillors and local stakeholders, who have so readily got behind the festival.”
Councillor Glynis Sinclair has taken a prominent role in devising the programme, which features many other activities to complement the two concerts. She is particularly enthused by the proposal to make the Ness Islands a “fairyland”, which she is sure will be a big hit with families and young people. She is also delighted that local charities will benefit from the countdown to Christmas event.
She said: “We want to be as inclusive as we can to cater for the interests of the widest possible audience in Inverness. The event is for them. And I am sure if they enjoy what we are providing, visitors, too, will like what they get. I am thrilled at the hugely positive response we have so far received. We are all determined to deliver a memorable experience over winter, which, hopefully, will be a year on year event.”
Provost Jimmy Gray, Chairman of the Inverness City Committee of The Highland Council, is 100% behind the new look festival.
He said: “The focus on our community is spot on and I think the Working Group got down to work very quickly and produced a really exciting programme, including the return of the traditional Hogmanay Party, which will be welcomed by many people. The festival also provides a great opportunity for many in the hotel and catering businesses at a quieter time of the year and that must be good for our city.”