Rochdale's big Christmas lights switch-on and festive market at the town hall will not take place in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The popular family event normally staged in late November that attracts thousands of visitors is the latest big event to fall victim to the pandemic.
Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for a safer and inclusive community at Rochdale Borough Council, said social distancing rules meant the event can't take place safely:
"It won't be a surprise we've had to cancel this event in light of the current situation. We would love to keep things as they are but the reality is we are having to make significant changes to ensure we aren't encouraging people to break the rules. Our festive market at the town hall and switch-on attracts big crowds so what we don't want to do is encourage large numbers of people to gather in town in the current circumstances. But what I can promise you is Rochdale will look as festive as ever under the Christmas lights."
'Rochdale will look as Christmassy as ever'
Details will be confirmed soon about an online virtual celebration as the lights and displays go on to mark the start of the festive season in Rochdale, featuring Father Christmas and The Mayor Councillor Billy Sheerin. The council will also be asking residents to share their own Christmas lights switch-on videos on social media, whether you're lighting your tree at home, having fairy lights or lanterns in your doorway, garden or window.
"We will still be doing all we can to bring some much needed festive cheer and encouraging everyone to shop locally and support our wonderful businesses during these very difficult times." added councillor Emsley.
Switch-on events in Middleton, Heywood and Littleborough will also not be going ahead due to coronavirus restrictions limiting public gatherings.