A DRAMATIC decision was taken this week to stop the traditional Dunster by Candlelight festival which has been running since 1986.

It has been one of West Somerset’s largest Christmas season festivals, attracting thousands of people to shop in the village over two nights in December each year.

This year’s ‘Candlelight’ had been hailed by many as being the best ever.

But the organising committee decided on Monday (December 18) not to continue with it due to the large amount of work and the increasing costs involved.

Festival founder Hannah Bradshaw said: “We are all very sad, but we know that ‘Candlelight’ has helped not only the local economy, but various local charities, and it has raised well over £200,000 for St Margaret’s Hospice.

“Over the years it provided fun for everybody, but it was a victim of its own success and all good things come to an end.

“The feedback on this year’s event has been very positive, it is a good time to go out on a high.

“A big ‘thank you’ to all those people who became involved and helped in many ways, also our many supporters.

“We are sure something new will take its place to keep Christmas and Dunster bright and cheerful.”

Dunster by Candlelight was started 37 years ago in collaboration with traders in the village to attract visitors outside the usual tourism season.

Mrs Bradshaw said the festival had grown from ‘very humble beginnings’ to become famous enough to be filmed by the BBC and feature in several ‘glossy’ magazines.

She said ‘Candlelight’ had put Dunster ‘on the map’ and brought people back to the village throughout the year.

The festival’s entertainment co-ordinator, Sally Mann, from fuseperformance.co.uk, had produced many great artists over the years. 

Mrs Bradshaw said the parish council and other organisations such as Rotary had been asked if they wanted to take on the organisation of the event but it was too large for anybody to want to do so.

She said: “Other groups can start whatever they like, but it will not be Dunster by candlelight any more, that has gone and the title has gone.” Mrs Bradshaw said the festival had been on the brink of closure a number of times previously but the committee had always wanted to carry on for one more year.

But she said: “This time it is final. There will not be any more.

“It would be awful for it just to get worse and worse and people complain more and more and probably have reason to complain if it went downhill, so we felt it was better to call it a day.”