OPINION – Winter tourism for Forres?

Forres has been lucky enough to have some high-profile crowd-pullers in recent years.

Piping At Forres has been drawing in 15,000 or more over the past six years. During that time, we’ve also had the World Orienteering Championships broadcast live on TV all over the world, Colours of Cluny, and three Findhorn Bay Festivals, not to mention the Culture Days, Theme Days, Highland Games, Toun Mercat et al that our staple annual events. Just listing them reminds me how much Forres has got going for it

But there’s another event, which is equally well-attended, that perhaps gets little attention from a tourism point of view.

Bonfire Night.

This year, organisers say more than 8,000 people attended the bonfire and fireworks display in Grant Park. The population of Forres is around 13,000.

Completely free of charge and all proceeds going to charity, this event is up there with the others as an important Forres tourism attraction. Yet I don’t think traders are making the most of it.

Every town has a bonfire, but this year, we heard that due to council cutbacks, many town and villages didn’t get the winter warmer they were looking forward to.

The Forres bonfire, is coordinated and financed entirely by the Rotary Club of Forres and it’s your donations on the night that makes every subsequent event possible.

Thousands of people

The more people turn out, statistically more money will be raised for good causes, but if I had a criticism, it would be why weren’t there more traders opening late or opening stalls and ringing the bell for Forres, even to locals. It’s not like we didn’t know this was going to happen.

Once we leave our front door, we’re all tourists, even if we just walk along the road to see a bonfire. Seeing the fireworks display on the first Saturday in November is a gratifying sight, but then walking through the town and seeing thousands of people heading straight back home is something we should think about harnessing.

And remember, the Christmas Lights switch-on is on Saturday 1 December, and according to organisers, there will more to see and do this year.

We were lucky to have warm weather for the bonfire, but we are also lucky to have some great winter events year after year, a great bunch of people putting them together and townsfolk who clearly support them. Well done Forres, long may it continue.

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