A festive show that has played to more than 6m visitors has cancelled its run for the first time in more than 40 years.

The Thursford Christmas Spectacular has abandoned its planned 2020 run due to the continued uncertainty over coronavirus restrictions on live performances.

The show normally features a cast of 130 dancers, plus another 230 musicians, variety acts, and crew members, and provides a massive boost to north Norfolk’s winter tourism.

It is the first time the show has not run since it was launched in 1977. Ticket holders are being contacted to arrange transferring their seats to the 2021 run or a refund.

Producer and director John Cushing OBE said: “This has been a heart-breaking time for me and my team at Thursford as it has been for so many.

“We have watched and waited, hoping for news and direction as to the implications for mass gatherings and live performances, which, in these uncertain times, remain unclarified at this time.

“We have spent the last few months working tirelessly towards the Christmas Spectacular show, hoping to continue our normal year’s schedule through to the autumn.

“However, following many hours discussing ways to achieve this, considering restrictions and safety measures, and with the concern for due care of our audience, cast and production team always being foremost in our minds, we felt that our only option was to postpone the show for this year.”

Thursford Enchanted Journey of Light
Thursford Enchanted Journey of Light

In its place, the venue will be staging an Enchanted Journey of Light, from November through to January.

The attraction is promising a indoor “wonderland trail” – featuring a maze of engines, fairy-tale characters and an immersive experience of light and sound including one of the UK’s biggest kinetic light displays – that leads on to a four-acre outdoor “lantern light extravaganza”.

Social distancing has also hit Father Christmas, with children no longer able to meet him at the end of Thursford’s Santa’s Magical Journey – which will instead be part of the new extended Enchanted Journey of Light attraction.

  • Tickets for the Enchanted Journey of Light are £15 each, children under three go free. Booking is open now at www.thursford.com or by calling 01328 878477.