THE traditional firework display has been scrapped from the annual Worcester Festival finale after organisers decided to reconsider the money spent on it.

The annual Worcester Festival finale fireworks has brought the extravaganza to a close each year since its launch back in 2003.

However, this year the festival will break with tradition and forgo the display, which costs many thousands of pounds, in favour of a whole host of new community events that will take place throughout its duration.

Festival director Chris Jaeger said: “This has been a big decision for us, and one that we have not taken lightly, but we believe that this is the right time for a change, and that this decision will allow us to move the Festival forward in a really positive way.

"In recent years, we have become increasingly conscious of the need to consider the bigger impact of the fireworks, and to weigh up whether the amount of money spent on the display can be justified.

"We have been listening to the local community, and taking on board their concerns regarding the environmental impact of the fireworks. "We also understand that for many pet owners and farmers the fireworks can be an unwelcome source of distress.

"Many people have also expressed the view that twelve minutes is not long enough to justify such a lot of money simply ‘going up in smoke’ and we have come to agree with them."

Mr Jaeger also said that the money which would normally be spent on fireworks can instead be spent on different activities.

He said: "There will be more free street theatre, more free workshops; more free events all round, even some free concerts this year.

"We always want to put on lots of great things for children, for families and for everyone, and the money freed up will enable us to offer more free community events than ever before.

"Watch out for flash mobs, bands, beer, a murder mystery, street theatre, live music, workshops, relaxed performances, concerts, dance, Shakespeare, walks, talks, face painting, food, markets, a Cathedral animal-blessing service, bell-ringing, chess, quizzes, treasure trails, tours, and much, much more."

After 24 years at the helm, Mr Jaeger is leaving Worcester Live by mutual agreement to concentrate on other arts projects in Worcestershire including the Worcester Festival which he started 17 years ago.

A spokesman for Worcester Live said: "Chris has worked tirelessly for the organisation and will be remembered for the annual Swan Theatre Pantomime, which he wrote and directed, and for introducing annual productions at The Commandery and the Cathedral; as well as reviving The Swan Theatre and Huntingdon Hall at a time when the future of neither venue could be guaranteed."

Muff Murfin, chairman of Worcester Live thanked Mr Jaeger on behalf of the staff, the people of Worcestershire, Worcester City Council and various local charities who have all contributed to the success of the company under Chris’ leadership and wished him well for the future.