November 5, 2014
by Scott Grenney

Ocean City Lights Event during November 2014

Plymouth Hoe Bonfire Night

Smeaton’s Tower – Bonfire Night – Photo by Leigh Acton

This November needn’t be dark as Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City, is lighting up the city with a number of light-themed events.

The events, all designed to celebrate national occasions and commemorate significant moments in the city’s history, include Light 100, Bonfire Night, the City Centre and Barbican Christmas Lights Switch-on events, Illuminate and Light Fantastic.

From Saturday 1 November through to Saturday 29 November there are plenty of events to light up the autumn evenings.

Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Peter Smith, said: “Autumn is here but that doesn’t mean things are quietening down in Plymouth. There is still a great number of exciting events to attend and the Ocean City Lights programme provides a range to choose from. From those with historical associations through to community events and traditional bonfire and Christmas lights, there’s no reason to stay at home.”

In 1914 the three towns, Plymouth, Devonport and East Stonehouse, joined to form Plymouth as we know it today. 100 years later, Stonehouse Action is hosting a Light 100 community event to celebrate.

Saturday 1st November – Stonehouse Timebank, Union Street

This event will see Stonehouse Timebank light up Union Street with 100 lanterns, each containing a wish, on from 5pm.

Wednesday 5 November – The Hoe

Plymouth will be hosting a traditional bonfire and fireworks display on The Hoe. Visitors can enjoy fairground rides, food and drink from 4pm.Entertainment, courtesy of Heart FM, will take place from 6pm on the grass area of The Hoe in front of the Royal Citadel. Performances from Alice Sposito, Street Factory, Alice Gullick and The Sound will entertain the crowds whilst the bonfire is lit at 7.30pm.

A surrey-based firework company, Pyrovision, will set off a spectacular display from behind the walls of the Royal Citadel at 8pm. Visitors to The Hoe can watch as the skies are once again lit up with a dazzling array of sparkles.

The Sugar Thieves will take to the stage at 8.20pm for the final performance of the night.

Thursday 13th November – City Centre

The following week, will see the popular city centre Christmas light switch-on and dazzling lantern parade take place. Entertainment begins at 4pm on the stage outside Drake Circus shopping centre at the top of Cornwall Street.Join Chico and R&B band Damage as the countdown begins at 6.20pm, followed by the lantern parade starting at the Plymouth Guildhall at 6.40pm.

Thursday 20th November – Barbican & The Hoe

A unique community event will celebrate the ‘Special Relationship’ between Plymouth UK and Plymouth Massachusetts. The event, Illuminate, will kick off the countdown to 2020, the 400th anniversary of when the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth on the Mayflower, heading for the New World.At 6pm one single candle will be lit at the Mayflower Steps during a short civic service followed by an illuminated procession from the steps to The Hoe where a further 1,000 candles will be lit.

Thursday 27th November – Barbican

Keeping with the American theme a Thanksgiving ceremony will take place at the Mayflower Steps at 5.30pm followed by the Barbican and Sutton Harbour Christmas lights switch-on at 6pm.The Christmas lights switch-on will take place beside the ‘Mayflower’ Christmas tree on The Parade, Barbican and will provide an outdoor, traditional carol service.

Friday 28th November – Various Locations

The Ocean City Lights programme will conclude with a ‘Light Fantastic’ event which will see some of the city’s most iconic buildings come alive. On Friday 28 November, Smeaton’s Tower, Devonport Guildhall and the Palace Theatre will become illuminated with projections inspired by the ‘Three Towns’ histories and communities.

Saturday 29th November – Plymouth Guildhall & Civic Centre

Plymouth Guildhall and the Civic Centre will be illuminated with a combined finale projection.

More information about all of these events can be found at

Source: Plymouth City Council

October 24, 2014
by Scott Grenney

Plymouth Citybus donates a thousand tickets for Illuminate event

Candle plymouth hoe eventsPlymouth residents and visitors are invited to light a candle at the Illuminate event taking place on The Hoe in November and local bus firm Plymouth Citybus has donated a thousand bus tickets to get these people there.

Thousands of people are expected to gather for a special ‘Illuminate’ event on 20 November to mark the start of the official countdown to the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing.

The event will start at 6pm with a small civic service at the Mayflower Steps with the Plymouth Lord Mayor, Councillor Michael Fox, and Dignitaries linked to the Mayflower Trail in the UK and US.

During the service one candle will be lit followed by a parade up to The Hoe where a further 1,000 candles will be lit to illustrate the quote by Governor William Bradford in his book Of Plimoth Plantation which states, “As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled has shown unto many,”. The aim of the event is to ‘share the light’ and inspire a sense of unity between the Plymouth, UK and Plymouth, Massachusetts – who will be holding a similar event the following day.

Residents and visitors are invited to The Hoe to ‘light’ their candles (electric or candle phone apps) and take part in a group formation, which from the air will create the number ‘400’.

Chairman of the Plymouth UK Mayflower Leadership Group, Adrian Vinken OBE, said “Illuminate is a very special event for Plymouth and one which I hope residents will be proud to participate in. We have received fantastic support from the City Council and local businesses which is extremely encouraging for the future of the whole Mayflower project.  This will be a seminal moment in the development of the international 2020 project.  Not only will it launch the official countdown to Mayflower 400 in both the UK and the USA but it will also provide the opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate Plymouth’s remarkable contribution to the history of the world over the past four centuries.”

To mark the occasion, and to show business and community support, Plymouth Citybus has sponsored the parade and also donated 1,000 bus travel tickets for people wanting to like a candle and get involved in the formation.

Bus tickets will be valid for one day only, and can only be used to travel to and from the event. They can be claimed by emailing and will be issued on a first come first served basis. Family tickets can be provided.

Plymouth Citybus isn’t the only local business supporting the event. The Race Equality Council is bringing their Step Up to Respect Parade which will be a main feature of the event and Jury’s Inn is offering 20% off the price of a limited number of their Plymouth rooms on the night for people attending the event. All you need to do is quote ‘Mayflower’ at the time of booking.

City College Plymouth are also supporting the event, Sharron Robbie, Director of Marketing, Corporate Relations and Enterprise at the college said: “City College Plymouth is delighted to be part of Illuminate, which marks the countdown to the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth. The Illuminate event will raise awareness and excitement around the historic event, and will enable community engagement from both sides of the Atlantic.

“It promises to be a very special event!”

Source: Plymouth City Council

Find out more about the Illuminate event: Illuminate – Lighting the way to 2020 – 400th anniversary of the Mayflower Ship


October 24, 2014
by Scott Grenney

Plymouth Tourism and Visitor Economy Conference – Thursday 20th November 2014

Plymouth Hoe Waterfront photo by Scott GrenneyExperts in the visitor economy will be joining forces to talk to businesses about how delivering excellence can reap positive benefits for everyone at the annual tourism and visitor economy conference taking place in Plymouth.

Being held at The Rhodes@ The Dome on Thursday 20th November, from 10am to 4pm Destination Plymouth has arranged twelve key speakers to provide motivational presentations throughout the day.

Ken Robinson CBE, Chairman of the Tourism Society Policy and Advocacy Group and Board member of the Tourism Alliance will be a keynote speaker on the day.

As the winner of an England for Excellence Award in 1998 for Lifetime Services to Tourism, Ken will discuss why it is important for local businesses to support each other, particularly in the current challenging economic climate, which is seeing many local authorities withdraw from funding tourism completely.

Ken will give an overview of how the visitor economy is changing structurally nationally, why it is crucial that businesses continue to work together in partnership and why ‘excellence is the key to success!’

Ken was awarded a CBE in 1997 for Services to Tourism and is a member of VisitEngland’s Strategic Industry Advisory Group and British Tourism Industry Group as well as a member of the World Travel Market Advisory Council.

He said: “I am very pleased to be talking at the Plymouth Tourism and Visitor Economy Conference in November and meeting other businesses in the industry to hear about their experiences. I am fortunate to have worked with many Government departments and devised tourism strategies in the UK and in my work for the UN’s International Trade Centre, advising nations and regions how to optimise the economic, social and cultural benefits of Tourism.

“Now more than ever before organisations such as Destination Plymouth are vital to provide a strong voice for local businesses, encourage partnership working and to lobby government for funding support for one of the UK’’s fastest growing sectors over the past three years.”

Other speakers at the conference include Pam Foden, the Head of Industry Development at VisitEngland, Carolyn Custerson, Chairman of Visit Devon, and Jonathan Sloane, Managing Director of Hills Balfour – the national PR company working with Destination Plymouth to raise the profile of ‘Britain’s Ocean City’.

Providing a slightly different perspective and their insight into ‘delivering excellence’ will be world class diving coach Andy Banks, the Director of Marketing, Corporate Relations and Enterprise at City College Plymouth, Sharron Robbie and Director of E-Strategy, Stuart Devlin.

Leader of the City Council and Destination Plymouth Director Tudor Evans said: “Plymouth City Council understands the importance of tourism and the visitor economy as a key sector and an area of the economy which will continue to grow and support new jobs. We will continue to support our local businesses by investing in tourism and supporting them as much as possible.

“This conference is a fantastic chance for businesses to network and be inspired. With a number of leading industry experts in the room it’s really one not to be missed.”

Chairman of Destination Plymouth, Duncan Currall, added: “We are delighted to announce that Ken Robinson CBE is joining us at our Tourism Conference. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the industry and this is an exciting opportunity for others in the sector to come and hear from him.

“As we move towards the end of 2014 and look forward to 2015 we need to think smarter, act quicker and collaboratively work together to ‘deliver excellence’ for Plymouth, as well as the whole of the South West region.

“Plymouth is fortunate to have fantastic support for tourism and the visitor economy from the City Council together with the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership and City Centre Company BIDS. We all need to continue to work together to ensure that this sector keeps growing as we move towards our Mayflower 400 commemorations in 2020.”

The conference is open to all businesses and students in tourism, leisure, retail, hospitality and wider visitor economy  and will run from 10.00am to 4pm. Tickets are £20 per adult, with concessions for charities, businesses in Plymouth’s business improvement districts and students.

For more information about the programme schedule and to purchase tickets visit


October 6, 2014
by Scott Grenney

Bonfire Night: Remember, remember the 5th November

Plymouth Hoe Bonfire Night

Photo by Leigh Acton

In pure traditional style Plymouth will be hosting a bonfire and fireworks display on Wednesday 5 November on The Hoe for Bonfire Night.

Fairground rides and catering stands will be open from 4pm and entertainment, courtesy of Heart FM will be provided from 6pm.

As the night draws in and the temperature drops, this event is sure to warm up when the bonfire is lit at 7.30pm.

The bonfire, located near to Smeaton’s Tower, will be made from timber donated by Babcock and topped with a Guy Fawkes donated by Goosewell Primary School.

A surrey-based firework company, Pyrovision, will set off a spectacular display from behind the walls of the Royal Citadel at 8pm. Visitors to the Hoe can watch as the skies are once again lit up with a dazzling array of sparkles.

Deputy Leader of the Council, Pete Smith, said: “Plymouth’s Hoe is an amazing place to experience Bonfire Night and this year we will be hosting a more traditional evening. There will be a simple bonfire and a fireworks display where you can hear the “oohh’s” and “aahh’s” in the crowd. This really does add to the atmosphere of this free community, family event.”

Several car parks in the city will be open including Drake Circus, Theatre Royal, Civic Centre, Guildhall, Western Approach and Elphinstone. The Plymouth Park and Ride will also be running extra services to and from Coypool and The George.

Both services will be picking passengers up from Coypool and The George at 6.30pm, 6.45pm and 7pm. There will be buses running from Royal Parade directly back to the Park and Ride depots every five minutes from 8.35pm until the queues have gone.

Roads surrounding The Hoe will be closed leading up to and during the event with Citadel Road closing at 4pm followed by Hoe Road and Madeira Road closing at 6pm. Roads will be re-opening at 9pm.

Source: Plymouth City Council

September 30, 2014
by Scott Grenney

PHOTOS: Aqua Adrenaline event held on the 27-28th September 2014

Lots of high speed action as the Aqua Adrenaline teams took to the water. Photographer Mike Pitches was there to capture the action :)

September 10, 2014
by Scott Grenney

British Firework Championships 2015 dates announced

The world famous British Firework Championships is set to return to Plymouth for its 19th showdown in August 2015.

Visitors from all over the world can see the skies light up over Plymouth’s spectacular waterfront on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 August.

Hosted by The Event Services Association (TESA) and Plymouth City Council the championships are one of the biggest annual displays put on by professional firework companies in the UK.

Tens of thousands of Plymouth residents and holiday makers head to Plymouth’s Hoe for two evenings of family entertainment and three spectacular fireworks displays.

Jim Winship, Director of The Event Services Association (TESA), said: “Plymouth has always stood out as an ideal location for fireworks as it provides a great, natural amphitheatre enabling large scale pyrotechnics to be used safely and watched from a variety of points around the harbour and Sound. The Championships have grown hugely popular and are now recognised as the premier annual display in the UK, attracting tens of thousands to the city each August.

“As the Hoe is the focal point for watching the Championships, entertainment is provided throughout both evenings. Visitors arrive early and, in addition to all the fun of the fair, many turn up hours before the start of the displays to sit and watch the comings and goings of yachts and other craft on Plymouth Sound while they wait for the competition to get under way.

Deputy Leader of Plymouth City Council, Pete Smith, added: “The British Firework Championships are part of our annual events calendar and are known world-wide. Visitors plan their holidays around this popular event – so if you are planning on making this part of your holiday next year, book your accommodation now.

“This awe-inspiring event won the best tourism event for over 5,000 visitors in the city in 2013 and we have been shortlisted again in 2014. It would be fantastic to be able to defend this title.”

Source: Plymouth City Council