CHRISTMAS cheer has not totally disappeared from Helensburgh this year - despite the announcement that the town’s Winter Festival cannot go ahead in its usual form.

The organisers of the annual event have revealed that the 2020 weekend of festive fun will instead take place through social media.

Due to take place on November 28 and 29, this year’s festival was cancelled in August after organisers decided the task of maintaining social distancing and keeping everyone safe was simply impossible in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, an online extravaganza of entertainment, including a Christmas market, will run in its place, and local businesses are being encouraged to sign up.

READ MORE: 'No option but to cancel' Helensburgh fireworks display

A spokesperson for the organisers said: “The programme of events is being worked on but penguin crew have been promised a personal message to the children of Helensburgh and Lomond from Santa Claus and they will be asking youngsters of primary school age to take part in the annual penguin design competition.

“They will be asked to draw their own penguin on an A4 sheet and either send it in by email or hand it in to the Olde Christmas Shoppe on West Clyde Street. Full details will be available on the festival Facebook page when the competition is officially launched on October 14.

“Anyone who would like to see the gallery of winners from last year can find it on the Facebook page.

“The penguin crew will also be looking for volunteers to send in videos for the entertainment section of the festival and will be offering those who normally take part in the market to showcase their wares at the online event.

“Local businesses who would like to participate in our online market, wish to provide cooking or cocktail demonstrations or recipes, or entertainers who wish to take part with pre-recorded videos, Facebook or Instagram Live performances, should contact for more information.”

READ MORE: Helensburgh's 2020 Winter Festival cancelled due to Covid-19 safety fears

The Winter Festival committee said it had taken its “most difficult decision ever” in cancelling this year’s event, after growing uncertainty around kids rides, live entertainment, the Santa Dash and Santa’s Grotto.

The traditional two-day festival has been part of the area’s events calendar for the past eight years.

Helensburgh councillor Lorna Douglas, chair of the festival’s organising committee, said: “We were devastated when we had to cancel this year’s event but are delighted to be able to take the festival online and hope that our supporters will be able to join in the fun.”

For more information about the festival’s online plans, visit search for Helensburgh Winter Festival on Facebook.

Meanwhile, the festival’s organisers have added their voice to those paying tribute following the death of long-serving Helensburgh councillor Ellen Morton.

READ MORE: 'You crossed her at your peril': Tributes to Helensburgh councillor Ellen Morton

It was Councillor Morton who first came up with the idea of staging the festival, which has taken place in the town to herald the start of the festive season every year since 2012.

A spokesperson for the festival committee said: “Helensburgh’s popular Winter Festival will be a lasting memorial to the enthusiasm and dedication of Councillor Ellen Morton, who passed away this week after a lifetime of service to Helensburgh and Lomond.

“It was Councillor Morton who drove the idea of a winter festival forward and saw it come to fruition with the first festival in 2012 and she has been a faithful supporter ever since.

“Helensburgh owes a lot to Councillor Morton and she will be sorely missed.

“Without her determination and drive Helensburgh would not be the festive shopping destination of choice for thousands of people from all over the country and we are immensely grateful for her vision.”

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