The Celebration Capitals Of The UK: Find Out How Much Your City Spends On Festivities

Last updated: November 30th, 2022 Published on: November 10, 2022

As Christmas fast-approaches and with decorations and lights starting to line the streets of towns and cities across the UK, it’s only a matter of time before evenings alight with Christmas, fireworks begin to light up the night sky and Christmas cards come flooding through the letterbox.

Many of us will have fond memories of Christmas light switch-ons in our hometowns or Bonfire Night displays, and for families up and down the UK this often marks the beginning of the festive period for many. But which is the UK’s most celebration loving city and who’s getting treated to the most festivities.

To find out, we’ve submitted a Freedom of Information request to the local authorities of 60 of the most populated UK towns and cities*.

We asked questions around the amount of money spent on Christmas decorations, including lights, trees, decorations, fireworks and the budget allocated to individual events like Bonfire Night, Diwali and Christmas, all dating back from 2016 to the planned budget for 2022.

Here’s what we found:

Aberdeen is one of the UK’s most festive places!

That’s right, Aberdonians are in for a treat this Christmas, with our data revealing an average spend for every 1,000 people of £1,448 this Christmas on decorations across the city. On average, the city allocates £290,607 to festivities each year, with the amount increasing by 10.48% between 2016 and 2022, where £352,060 is planned to be spent.

Hopefully revellers in the city this Christmas will be sure to snap a pic in front of the Castlegate Christmas tree and will plan on admiring it each time they pass, with the cost of it coming in at a huge £10,550.

The cost of fireworks this Bonfire Night at Beach Boulevard will amount to £47,053, almost double the £25,000 spent in 2016, so be sure to wrap up and make the trip out.

If you’re looking to visit a city this Christmas to take in the festivities, Aberdeen is a strong contender, according to our data!

Leicester lands in mid-table for it’s festive fun

Leicester has what is regarded as the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India and the budgets don’t lie, with £35,000 dedicated to the event annually! That’s almost three times the budget allocated in Edinburgh (£10,000) and £10k more than Wolverhampton’s (£25,000).

While the Leicester city council also spends a whopping £50,000 on lights and £5k on the clock tower Christmas tree. Leicester residents can expect a modest average spend of £332.51 per 1,000 people this year for Christmas festivities!

The scale of festivities in Wolverhampton are on the increase

All of the cities in our data spent over £100 on average for every 1,000 people on festivities but in comparison to other local authorities on the list, Wolverhampton spent the least on Christmas celebrations on average per 1,000 people, at £114.72.

Despite that figure though, the council plans to spend £62,370 on Christmas in 2022 an increase of 333% on what was spent in 2016 – the largest increase across of all the cities we analysed.

Christmas is on the decrease for some

Festive budgets in Peterborough, Bolton, Stoke and Cardiff have all been reduced by more than half since 2016. But with years of investment into Christmas, it’s likely that many of the lights and decorations are still in full working order and our data shows that average spend per 1,000 people in these areas is also fairly healthy, so it’s not completely bad news for those living in these areas.

The full table of data is below, which shows expenditures in 2016, budgets for 2022 and how these differ, along with the average spend of all years between 2016 and 2022 and the average spend per 1,000 people in each area.

Council Population 2016 2022 % Change Avg. Spend Avg spend/1000
Aberdeen 200680 £318,664.04 £352,060.00 10.48 £290,607.32 £1,448.11
Dundee 148280 £170,901.73 £110,000.00 -35.64 £141,612.30 £955.03
Bolton 202369 £292,113.24 £100,000.00 -65.77 £192,346.17 £950.47
Peterborough 175680 £135,800.00 £52,582.00 -61.28 £99,047.00 £563.79
Newcastle 281842 £112,249.00 N/A N/A £126,354.50 £448.32
Cheltenham BID 117843 £60,424.00 £47,000.00 -22.22 £49,946.43 £423.84
Bradford 361046 £151,000.00 £151,000.00 0.00 £151,000.00 £418.23
Leicester 470965 £147,200.00 £150,000.00 1.90 £156,600.00 £332.51
Ipswich 150334 £37,131.56 £61,460.00 65.52 £49,773.73 £331.09
Swansea 184436 £53,710.00 £60,000.00 11.71 £60,866.71 £330.02
Watford 140902 Not Held £44,100.00 N/A £46,220.00 £328.03
Sunderland 175031 £46,979.00 N/A N/A £55,971.67 £319.78
Edinburgh 488050 £128,203.25 £140,000.00 9.20 £155,206.17 £318.01
Chelmsford 181500 £53,557.00 £30,000.00 -43.98 £56,717.95 £312.50
Cardiff 350558 £124,000.00 £0.00 -100 £101,238.57 £288.79
Coventry 369127 £54,612.00 £172,000.00 214.95 £99,772.29 £270.29
Southampton 269231 £49,066.85 £87,000.00 77.31 £72,422.78 £269.00
Newport BID 133353 £33,276.00 N/A N/A £33,743.94 £253.04
Basildon 115269 £27,383.11 £17,900.00 -34.63 £24,693.52 £214.23
Sheffield 544402 £94,292.00 £120,000.00 27.26 £115,184.57 £211.58
Gloucester 146667 / £31,450.00 N/A £27,311.98 £186.22
Slough 164046 £30,000.00 £0 N/A £30,000.00 £182.88
Blackpool 145722 £18,023.00 £26,544.00 47.28 £24,841.43 £170.47
Stoke 277051 £134,974.77 £10,000.00 -92.59 £46,428.76 £167.58
Plymouth 241179 £37,500.00 £37,500.00 0.00 £37,500.00 £155.49
Liverpool 579256 £90,000.00 £85,000.00 -5.56 £87,857.14 £151.67
Watford 140902 Not Held £19,600.00 N/A £19,920.00 £141.37
Hull 288671 £15,170.00 £47,343.00 212.08 £40,681.00 £140.93
Wolverhampton 218255 £14,397.00 £62,370.00 333.22 £25,039.29 £114.72

 

If you’re celebrating Christmas at home or further afield take a look at our personalised gifts to ensure your special someone has a Christmas to remember.

Methodology

*We worked to a cut off of 20 days for responses from local authorities. Any responses following that time frame were not recorded.

Not all authorities were able to break down individual spends and instead had a pot of budget to cover all festivities throughout the year.

The list of the largest towns and cities, along with population data was taken from https://www.thegeographist.com/uk-cities-population-1000/