A new festival will be launched in Scarborough next month as part of a three-year vision to boost arts and culture and to help to improve job opportunities on the coast in North Yorkshire.

The Scarborough Lights festival will bring illuminated art installations to the town, showcasing the work of international, national and local artists.

The new arts event will attract more visitors to Scarborough during a traditionally quiet time of year for tourism.

The festival will be staged from Wednesday 15th November until Saturday 23rd December, and tickets have gone on sale.

It is the first event as part of the Scarborough Fair cultural initiative, which is being funded by £1.2 million from the government’s Towns Fund programme.

The fair, which was last held in the 18th century, is being revived as a year-round programme of arts, heritage, music and sports events and is expected to run until 2026.

The overarching strategy of the Scarborough Fair project is to bring significant economic benefits to the coast with better quality jobs and training as well as involving communities to help tackle social deprivation.

It is also hoped that the events will help create a year-round visitor economy for the county, which is a major ambition of North Yorkshire Council.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for arts and culture, Cllr Simon Myers, said: “Scarborough Lights represents a milestone for us in bringing a greater breadth of arts and cultural events to North Yorkshire.

“First and foremost, it is an event that we hope will be fun and entertaining for communities in Scarborough as well as bringing in thousands more people to the town.

“But there will hopefully be longer-term benefits for the town, both economically and socially, as part of Scarborough Fair’s programme of events.

“It is an ambition of North Yorkshire Council to make sure that we can bring better jobs and help improve people’s opportunities to all communities in the county, and the launch of such a major programme of arts and cultural events is a clear indication of our commitment to this.”

Scarborough Lights will involve 15 events and light artworks from the UK and across Europe, many of which are in England for the first time, at 13 venues across the town.

A total of 10 of the events and installations will have free admission.

Showpiece events include a drone display at Scarborough Castle on Saturday 18th November and the Winter Lights Trail in Peasholm Park throughout the duration of the festival.

Among the other major attractions will be a new light installation, called The Fading Light of Ruins, by Flemish artist Peter Snijder which will be at St Mary’s Church in Scarborough from 16th to 30th November.

The festival will be the world premiere of the artwork, which is themed around the long history of the church that dates back to the 12th century.

Light installations will also be on display in the town centre at Scarborough Library, the town’s train station, the Rotunda Museum, Scarborough Spa, the Town Hall and the harbour.

The director of Scarborough Fair, Julian Caddy, has worked as an organiser of arts festivals and events for more than 25 years, including a stint as venue producer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

He began the role in Scarborough in June after leaving his previous position as the chief executive officer of Brighton Fringe, which he held for more than a decade.

Mr Caddy said: “This is a ground-breaking initiative for Scarborough and will revive a festival that may have been last held back in the 18th century but which is still famous around the world.

“It is a real opportunity for Scarborough to see a wide range of benefits, and the Scarborough Lights festival is the first step in a journey which we hope will involve as many communities as possible, bringing arts and culture to the town and attracting visitors from across the country and beyond.”

The government announced in March 2021 that Scarborough had been successful in securing £20.2 million of Town Deal funding, while Whitby had secured £17.1 million.

The Town Deals programme is aimed at regenerating towns while also stimulating investment and delivering vital infrastructure as part of the government’s levelling up agenda to tackle regional inequalities.

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