The Matlock Bath Illuminations
What are the Matlock Bath Illuminations?
Each year, Matlock Bath stages the illuminated boat procession along the River Derwent. The first procession of candle lit boats took place in 1897, to mark the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. As a young princess, Victoria has stayed in Matlock Bath and she remembered the reflection of lights in the river Derwent, from candles in the hotel windows.
At that time Matlock Bath was a popular tourist venue as it is today. This is evident in Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice who refers to Matlock Bath. It was mentioned as a place to visit and perhaps to enjoy the spring waters of the Spa Town at the time.
Since then the boats, which are built by members of the Matlock bath Venetian Boat Association, are paraded through Matlock Bath, along the river Derwent. Every year the procession is led by a candle lit boat, to maintain the tradition of the first illuminations.
How long have the Matlock Bath illuminations taken place?
This is the 122nd year of the illuminations. The event did not take place in 1901 and 1902, but it is not known why. However, a new organising committee was formed in 1903 and it was a much grander event that year. The event was also suspended for three years just before the second world war because of bad weather and remain suspended during the war years. In 1950 there was a significant change when electricity was used for the first time to power the lights of the illuminated boats.
When are the Matlock Bath illuminations?
The event now takes place on weekend evenings in Matlock Bath. The 2019 Matlock Bath Illuminations run from Saturday 7 September until Sunday 27 October. During the 8-week season Matlock Bath Venetian Boat Builders’ Association decorate themed models with an array of coloured lights. The models are mounted on rowing boats and paraded on the River Derwent each Saturday at 7.45pm and 9.15pm in September and from around 7pm in October. And on Sundays from 7pm. The event takes place in Derwent Gardens giving a unique and illuminous display.
There is a fantastic firework displays every Saturday evening of the event, and on Sunday 27th October to mark the final night. The fireworks light up the skies around Matlock Bath in multi-colours. The firework displays begin at 9pm with the best viewing positions being in the Bandstand area of Derwent Gardens.
How much does the event cost?
Tickets for 2019 are £6.50 on Saturdays (£5.50 concessions) and £5.50 on Sundays (£4.50 concessions) if bought online in advance – apart from the final Sunday (27 October) when Saturday prices apply. Accompanied children under 16 are free. Tickets can be booked until 6pm on the night of the event through the Ticket Source website.
Tickets purchased on the night will cost £8.00 on Saturdays and £7.00 on Sundays On-the-night tickets are not guaranteed and may not be available if the event sells out in advance.
What happens on Sunday evenings?
Sundays have a specific emphasis as a “family night”. The entertainment starts and finishes earlier, running from 6 – 8.15pm making it ideal for younger children.