Organisers of the famed fireball festival in Stonehaven have tonight announced the cancellation of this year’s instalment.
It had been hoped that the event, which draws thousands each year, would go ahead, however, organisers have said that discussions in recent weeks have established that social distancing would not be possible, despite best efforts.
A statement released tonight reads: “Over the last few weeks, the event organisers and committee have been working with the council, the police and other services to try and find a way to successfully run the fireballs event under the Covid-19 guidelines.
“Although many options have been discussed and explored, it is clear that an event of our nature with such large crowds in a relatively small space would be impossible to control from a social distancing point of view.
“Despite everyone’s best efforts and intentions, we now have no choice but to cancel this year’s event.
“We are saddened and disappointed but feel this is the right thing to do at this point.
“Thanks must go to Aberdeenshire Council and Police Scotland for their help, advice and input during all meetings and discussions.
“It has not been for the want of trying to make this happen, but guidelines are guidelines and the safety of the public and community of Stonehaven is paramount.”
The festival takes place each Hogmanay and begins the welcoming of the new year in the north-east town.
Approximately 40 men and women parade up and down the High Street swinging fiercely flaming balls around their heads before they are deposited in the sea.
Visitors travel from afar each year to join locals in the celebrations.
The statement continued: “A massive thank you to Stewart Milne Homes, who have not only been very supportive and understanding as the main sponsor but have also already offered support for next year’s event.
“This is an amazing commitment and very much appreciated by all within the Fireballs Association.
“We would also like to thank all the other local businesses and suppliers for their understanding; we look forward to working with you all again next year!
“Finally, to our massive group of volunteers and marshals who will be just as disappointed as we are that the event can not go ahead – thank you. We look forward to your continued support next year.
“These are challenging times, and if ever there was a year that needed cleansed by fire… this is it!!
“But, all we can do is to come back swinging even stronger next year and have the Ba’s burn twice as bright!”