No Battle of Flowers – but hopes for an evening ‘Fantasy of Light’

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Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, the Battle of Flowers have been unable to commit to buying the flowers needed to design and decorate the traditional floral floats.

However, the festival’s organisers are hoping to stage two ‘Moonlight Parades’ this year to replace the traditional daytime parade. The parades would be known as ‘Battle of Flowers – Fantasy of Light’ and would take place on Victoria Avenue on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 August, starting at 9pm – provided permission is secured from the Bailiff’s Panel.

The organisers have proposed a number of other changes to this year’s event. The floats would be festooned with coloured lights and natural materials rather than the traditional flowers.

Event director Jackie Donald said: ‘The intention is to retain one tiered grandstand – normally we have six – and the arena will instead be either pavement seating or standing only.’

She added: ‘We are disappointed not to be able to stage the traditional floral aspect of the show for obvious reasons, but we are still keen to put on some form of parade.

‘The Moonlight Parade has always been very popular with residents, so we plan to ensure that as many people as possible get the opportunity to experience the usual carnival atmosphere, while abiding with any restrictions on audience numbers.

‘We would also like to end both evenings with firework displays.’

However, Ms Donald said they had not yet had confirmation from the authorities on whether the event would go ahead.

She pointed out: ‘We have a lot of people from the UK who come over especially, and we don’t want to disappoint them.’

According to the Jersey government’s own ‘roadmap’, large gatherings are to be permitted again from 14 June. But Steven Cartwright, chief officer to the Bailiff’s Chambers, warned that could be subject change if cases were to rise.

He explained that when any large-scale event was being planned it had to be checked and approved by five different agencies: the police, fire service, ambulance service, Health and Safety Department and Environmental Health Department.

He said: ‘Under Covid, public health is overarching all of these.’

If any of the agencies are unhappy with arrangements, an event can be cancelled, even at short notice.

The UK government has been conducting ‘large-crowd event experiments’ to determine whether restrictions can safely be relaxed at events in confined spaces, or whether doing so will lead to a rise in cases.

In Liverpool, 5,000 people gathered for a concert, 6,000 went to two rave-style events and 400 delegates attended a conference.

Mr Cartwright said health bodies in the UK were likely to share the findings from these pilot schemes with Jersey authorities.

‘The whole global health community will be sharing information,’ he said. ‘But at the moment we are very much moving week by week.’

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