BLACKBURN’S King George’s Hall has cancelled its annual pantomime because of coronavirus restrictions while the town’s Christmas lights switch-on will be crowd-free.

The show, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, was scheduled to go ahead from Monday December 7 to New Year’s Eve.

Darwen Library Theatre has also abandoned its plans for a Christmas family production.

Blackburn with Darwen Council bosses are now working on how to stage the two towns’ Christmas lights switch-ons, normally attended by large crowds, virtually.

Blackburn’s private volunteer-run Empire Theatre still hopes to stage its pantomime Dick Whittington and his Cat from November 28 to New Year’s Eve with a socially distanced audience.

Oswaldtwistle’s Civic Arts Centre and Theatre currently has none of its usual family Christmas events scheduled but aims to stage a pantomime version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in April.

Burnley Mechanics is currently closed and rescheduling events for 2020 but is advertising Burnley Pantomime Society’s production of Sleeping Beauty from January 8 to 17 next year.

Colne Muni is still hoping to stage its annual pantomime Beauty and The Beast from January 2.

As well as cancelling its Christmas shows at KGH and the Library Theatre, Blackburn with Darwen Council this week announced it was also abandoning the annual Bonfire Night celebration at Witton Park due to concerns over social distancing and crowds.

Other winter events, including the Remembrance Sunday commemoration and annual Festival of Light in November will be adapted to virtual events.

Festive lights and Christmas trees will be installed in Blackburn and Darwen but without the usual gatherings at the switch-on ceremonies.

Cllr Damian Talbot, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s leisure boss, said: “We want audiences to leave our venues during the Christmas season having had a magical and brilliant experience. In the current circumstances, we feel families and schools would not be able to interact with the actors and enjoy pantomime in the way we want.”

Cllr John Slater, the borough’s Tory group leader, said: “It is very sad to lose the KGH panto and other events. I believe that everybody understands that we are living in strange times. It is unfortunate but these decisions have to be taken.”

Michael Berry, chairman of the Empire Theatre, said: “We are still planning to run our pantomime but with smaller, socially distanced audiences.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s annual Community Volunteer Awards have also been cancelled.