CHRISTMAS will come early to Rotherham this year as the town centre gears up for its first ever Midsummer Christmas party.
The three-day event, starting on July 29, will see artificial snow, Christmas trees, lights and decorations in the town centre, as well as music from the South Yorkshire Police Brass Band.
The aim is to put Rotherham in the spotlight and encourage people into the town centre to see what it has to offer.
The idea came from Lee Mills, chairman of Rotherham Licence Watch and manager of Bar Tryst in Rotherham, who said: “The idea is to do something novel and create a spectacle to bolster trade for the night time economy and show visitors what we can offer when we all work together.
“With so much publicity, we should see visitor numbers increase substantially.
“We hope that people will think, let’s do something different, let’s go to Rotherham.”
Rotherham Borough Council has pumped £5,000 into the event—£4,000 on the illuminations and labour costs and £1,000 on advertising.
What do you think of the idea? Will Christmas in July help boost Rotherham trade? Use the "write a comment" button to post your views.
Lee said: “As with most town centre economies, Rotherham is struggling.
“With all councils under financial pressure, this funding shows the council’s commitment to the night time economy and reinforces its faith in what we are trying to achieve.
“People may say why aren’t you spending the money on potholes or other areas, but if this brings people into the town centre it will have long-term benefits.
“When you look at the entire budget for the council, it’s not a lot of money.”
Town centre bars, pubs and clubs will get into the spirit by putting up Christmas decorations, staff will wear festive outfits and there will be a selection of promotions including offers for those in fancy dress or anyone who takes a Christmas card to a venue.
July 30 will be billed as Christmas Eve with July 31 as New Year’s Eve.
It is hoped that crowds will be drawn in from Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield and further afield.
Lee added: “This is an opportunity to give everyone in Rotherham and the surrounding areas all the fun of the festive period, without all the stress and financial pressures that come with the time of year.
“I’ve organised similar events in other bars in other areas every year since 2001 and each time there has been really positive feedback.
“Yes, it’s a commercial venture but it’s about getting people into the town centre where they can enjoy a fun party atmosphere, a good standard of service and a great night out.”
Daytime businesses will also get involved by dressing windows with Christmas displays and the Brentwood Hotel is offering Christmas dinners.
Festive lights are set to be installed on July 19.
Paul Woodcock, the borough council’s director of planning and regeneration, said: “There has been a big push this year to work more closely with the town centre's businesses in delivering marketing and promotional activity to boost footfall for the town centre and therefore boost trade.
“The event comes as part of a host of activities this year to cater for people of all ages as well as the free parking incentives and increased planting.
“By working with the private sector we are ensuring that we deliver what will support the local economy as well as maximising on resources and the budgets available.”
The promotion has been backed by Rotherham Borough Council, the Chamber of Commerce and South Yorkshire Police.
READ MORE: Christmas in July. Your views.
Is the plan a good idea? Join our poll and cast your vote.