For many of us, the first sign that Christmas is approaching is when decorations start to light up our shopping streets and downtown areas.
Whether a local celebrity has been roped up to turn on the lights, or the town has invested in Christmas markets or new lights, most of our councils have worked hard to bring some party spirit to Hertfordshire – especially after last year’s celebrations were cut short.
It might not be in the Christmas spirit, but whether in awe or shock, we all walked past an exhibit and wondered ‘how much did they pay for this? “
Read more: Get the latest stories about Christmas in Hertfordshire
To get a response, we submitted Freedom of Information requests to the 10 Hertfordshire Borough and District Councils to find out what they had budgeted for for Christmas lights and decorations, as well as the cost of any event this winter.
The figures revealed that some of the big city authorities have prioritized events to bring people back to the city center, while others leave the planning to the parish councils and provide cash grants to keep things going.
The biggest spenders are apparently Welwyn Hatfield, who budgeted just over Â£ 57,000 for events and lights this winter, which has included impressive large, bright screens in city centers.
Each authority had slightly different approaches to budgeting, so these are not like-for-like comparisons, but it will give you an idea of ââhow much of your council tax was spent on the tree this year.
Broxbourne Borough Council confirmed it had budgeted Â£ 25,188 for lights and decorations in the borough for 2021, up from Â£ 23,330 last year.
The Borough Council also confirmed that Â£ 704 had been spent on Waltham Cross Christmas shopping day and Â£ 1,105 on Festival of Carol events. The cost of the Hoddesdon Loves Christmas events will not be known until 2022.
The council added that all other downtown events are self-funded.
Dacorum does not have a pre-set budget for Christmas lights, but they were able to provide decoration costs from previous years to give an indication of how their money is being spent.
In 2020, Dacorum spent Â£ 43,726 to light up their cities. This was split between Â£ 37,610 for Tring, Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead, with an additional Â£ 6,116 for neighborhood centers.
The Borough Council has also confirmed that although the lightings and similar events are organized by city councils and partners, they contribute Â£ 8,000 to the Hemel Hempstead event.
East Herts, Trois-RiviÃ¨res and Hertsmere
These three councils confirmed that they did not have a budget for lighting or Christmas events, and that it instead went to the local city or parish council. The three councils were unable to provide figures as part of the request.
Hitchin, Royston and Baldock all receive grants of Â£ 2,000 from the District Council for the supply and decoration of a town Christmas tree.
North Herts Council arranges the erection and decoration of the Christmas tree in Broadway Gardens in Letchworth, as well as gifts and arranges the erection of a Christmas tree for Garden House Hospice.
The council is unable to provide a breakdown of the neighborhood decoration costs and has stated that the street scene decorations are not organized by the council.
Planned spending this Christmas is Â£ 12,700 including tree grants. In 2020/21, the advice score for Christmas was Â£ 11,813 and in 2019/20 it was Â£ 14,328.
Thousands of people attended the St Albans Christmas Cracker event in November which brought a lot of joie de vivre to the city center.
St Albans District Council confirmed that the budget for the free event was Â£ 28,180 – which was calculated from the expenditure budget minus the expected income.
The council added that it was unable to provide figures for other events and lights in 2021, as these will be organized by the respective city and parish councils. The authority added that in 2020 spending on Christmas lights was Â£ 17,038, with Â£ 19,160 spent in 2019.
Stevenage Borough Council had to abandon its lighting this year, due to high winds at the end of November, but the council was due to spend Â£ 13,905 on the show, including a total of Â£ 6,285 for entertainment and fireworks. ‘artifice.
For other lights and decorations, the Borough Council does not have a budget set in advance for 2021, but has confirmed that as of 2020, Â£ 23,429 has been spent in total on their Christmas lights, with 37 Â£ 403.56 spent in 2019. This is for the total cost of running the decorations during the holiday season, including power and installation. The council confirmed that it had not spent any money on replacement or new lights since 2018.
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Watford received a new set of LED decorations for its town center this year, but the Borough Council confirmed that the Business Improvement District is responsible for investing in the lights and decorations for the town.
The Borough Council contributes Â£ 20,000 each year for decorations and events.
The Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council website said it was “stepping up” seasonal activities to compensate last year, and this is reflected in the planned spending.
The council budgeted Â£ 57,090 for Christmas decorations and events this year, down from Â£ 36,953 in 2020. That’s still down from the Â£ 79,328.25 spent in 2019 on decorations and events, but it is still the largest budget confirmed by a Hertfordshire council.
The Borough Council was unable to provide a breakdown between the money spent in Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, or other towns in the area.