The organisers of the Carnival, Swanage’s biggest annual event that brings in over a million pounds into the local economy, have just announced that with a “heavy heart” they are cancelling the event for this year.
While not a surprise, as coronavirus restrictions continue to be in place, it underlines the very deep economic, social and emotional impact that the pandemic is having on Swanage.
Why it can’t go ahead this year
In a statement, the organisers cite several reasons why it can’t go ahead this July and August, including the impracticality of encouraging thousands of visitors to the town, the need to protect the wellbeing of everyone involved, to avoid putting undue pressure on emergency services and the risk of not making enough money to cover costs.
The organisers said:
“Carnival 2020 is cancelled but we will be back in 2021 stronger, bigger, brighter and louder than ever!
“Our thoughts are with those who have been affected and impacted by Covid-19. Thank you for your continued support.”
In 2019, the event that attracts tourists from across the UK and fills every pub, restaurant and type of accommodation in Swanage, spanned eight days across the end of July and the beginning of August and raised £28,000 for charity.
With other attractions this year cancelled or closed, the cost to the Swanage economy is immense and will need significant financial support for the town to survive economically. The Swanage Railway alone, estimates that it contributes more than £15 million to the Purbeck economy every year.
The Swanage Regatta and Carnival dates back to the mid 1800’s and has continued since that time in one form or another, but over the past 40 years has grown into a major attraction along England’s south coast, organised entirely by volunteers.
It is a pivotal week in Swanage’s social calendar and is famous for its colourful carnival procession and fireworks with usually three impressive displays during the week. There are more than 100 different events including air displays, live music, sporting events, games and competitions for everyone to enjoy. It all makes for a great party atmosphere, and often, weather allowing, it’s a massive beach party!
The organisers say that the date for the Carnival in 2021 will be 31st July 31st to 7th August.
The carnival organisers full statement
“It is with a heavy heart that we have reached the difficult decision to cancel Swanage Carnival 2020.
“We had planned a great week of fun and entertainment, and we have left making this difficult decision as long as possible. However, it is clear that restrictions relating to Covid-19 will be in place for the foreseeable future.
“This means that staging an event such as Carnival, that will gather large numbers of people and will attract people from far and wide to Swanage, may not be safe.
“The wellbeing of our volunteers, local community, visitors, supporters, traders, entertainers and contractors is paramount. We are taking this step to protect everyone and to ensure that our local NHS and emergency services are not placed under undue pressure.
“We also appreciate that due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, many of our sponsors will not be in a position to support us as they usually would. As a self-funded event, without the generous support from all our sponsors and the attendance of all our supporters, we will not be able to fund our Carnival week. If we have insufficient funds to cover the cost of putting on Carnival this will jeopardise the running of our event in the future, and we want to avoid this risk.
“For these reasons, Carnival 2020 is cancelled but, we will be back in 2021 stronger, bigger, brighter and louder than ever!
“Our thoughts are with those who have been affected and impacted by Covid-19.
“Thank you for your continued support.
For more information
Swanage Carnival is the premier carnival on the south coast, spanning eight days of entertainment at the start of the school summer holidays. It is self-funded and run solely by volunteers.