BOLTON Abbey has announced it will no longer go ahead with its Father Christmas Experience this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The popular annual event has been cancelled in order to discourage travel, manage crowds, enable visitors to maintain social distancing and to keep visitors, staff and the local community safe.

It opened for booking on October 12 and was originally set to take place from November 28 to Christmas Eve, December 24.

However, this month’s experiences were cancelled and refunded when new restrictions came into force on November 5.

The attraction had created a scaled down version of the normal festivities with a smaller Christmas village planned in the Cavendish Pavilion area and a chance to meet Father Christmas from a distance.

However, with the Government announcement that the country will be reverting to a tougher tiered system when current restrictions end on December 2, the team at the much-loved visitor attraction have made the “very difficult decision” to cancel the Christmas event and only remain open as a walking destination this Christmas.

The Estate has cited “rapidly changing circumstances of Covid 19, the Government’s response to it and some of the recent visitor behaviour experienced at Bolton Abbey” for its decision.

In a letter to ticket-holders Bolton Abbey said: “Given the event sold out, it was a difficult decision and one that was not made lightly.

“The team are acutely aware of the disappointment this will bring to families and for this they are truly sorry.”

Bolton Abbey will remain open over the Christmas period for people to enjoy the various walking trails along the banks of the river Wharfe, through Strid Wood or across the heather moors.

All visitors must pre-book their visit online in order to manage the number of visitors on site at any given time.

Additional toilets and the introduction of a one-way system along the nature trails from the Priory Ruins to Barden Bridge, are just some of the steps taken to allow visitors to social distance when the estate re-opened in May.

Bolton Abbey is the Yorkshire Estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. This is the first time visitors have had to book their visit.

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