The plug has been pulled on one of the biggest tourist events in the north of Scotland – despite costing £200,000 to get off the ground.
Colours of Cluny, the UK’s most northerly sound and light show, has been axed after two years despite attracting 26,800 visitors over the period.
Organisers had ambitions for the event, which was staged on Cluny Hill in Forres, to become “one of Scotland’s – and the UK’s – must-see autumn happenings”. However, they have blamed financial problems for the decision to scrap the event, which ran for 12 nights last November.
Although a 14 per cent increase in ticket sales was recorded in 2017, the trust behind the event said it had decided its growth was not “sustainable” in future.
The first of its kind to be staged in Morayshire, Colours of Cluny was backed by Highlands, Islands Enterprise, EventScotland and the Forres Common Good Fund.
The Forres Features Community Interest Company, a local trust, set up Colours of Cluny with the hope of emulating the success of Perthshire’s Enchanted Forest event, which sells more than 70,000 tickets. But a statement announcing its demise said the “difficult decision” was taken because it had not generated the necessary revenue.
Forres Features chairman Graeme Murdoch said: Colours of Cluny has surpassed our goal of putting Forres firmly on the tourism map and it created a welcome boost for local businesses during the quieter winter months.
“Although the show was extremely well-received, it wasn’t enough to meet the target necessary to secure the event’s future. We did make a surplus, but it is insufficient to reinvest and deliver the necessary ‘wow factor’ which is vital if we want to grow the event.
“The bottom line is that the market growth isn’t sufficient to give us the confidence that the show would be sustainable in future years.”
Laurie Piper, operations manager at Moray Speyside Tourism, said: “Although obviously saddened by this announcement, I want to recognise the efforts of, and congratulate, the team on their achievements over the last two years. Each year has seen the event grow and develop.
“It has been fundamental in showcasing the area to local people and to visitors from Scotland and beyond during a traditionally quiet period. I know that every avenue has been explored to secure the event’s future.”