Thrissur: This city which is touted as the cultural capital of Kerala is set to turn into a shopper's paradise at night as the New Year is ushered in. Elaborate preparations are underway for the one-month-long ‘Happy Days’ night shopping festival from December 15. The festival aims to make Thrissur a city that never sleeps.
Around 10 illuminations have been set up at Swaraj Round as part the arrangements. All of them have been built across various roads reaching the junction.
All businesses in the city would remain open with attractive illuminations till 11 pm. The organisers believe that at least 2 crore people, including those from other districts, would visit the festival area till January 15.
"The night shopping festival will help Thrissur transform itself into a Metro City. Moreover, the image of the city would improve, bringing in a new lifestyle," said T S Pattabhiraman, general convenor of the festival committee.
"No new business establishments would be set up for the festival; only the existing ones are taking part. Money has been allotted by the government departments concerned for the festival, but everything is organised by the business persons themselves," he added.
Pattabhiraman also said that the festival need not be considered as an extravagance.
The organisers of the festival are 42 bodies, including the Thrissur Chamber of Commerce, Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithy and Thrissur Corporation.
Work on readying the venues for cultural performances is also going at East Fort, West Fort and Sakthan Nagar.
The locations where the night shopping festival would be held are East Fort, Sakthan Nagar, Kokkala, Vanchikkulam, West Fort, Poonkunnam, Pattupurakkal, Karuppam Road, College Road, Marar Road and Swaraj Round. For the benefit of shoppers, buses will conduct services touching these areas till 11 pm on festival days.
Travel in the special city buses plying at night would be free.
Several events are planned to add spice to the night shopping festival. They include a marathon, Margam Kali, vintage car rally, bike rally, roller-skating, pet show, flash mob, painting competition, folk songs, fashion show, traditional art performances, travel exhibition, football penalty shoot-out, mud race and band.
A laser sound show and Kudumbashree’s food festival would be organised at Vanchikkulam.
Cultural programmes would be hosted on all days. A mobile stage will add to the glitz, said the organisers.
The 'vela' festival at Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Temples falls during the night shopping festival days. Moreover, a ‘mega Thiruvathira’ performance at Vadakkumnathan and Christmas celebrations titled 'Buon Natale' (Merry Christmas) during the fest are expected to add to the merriment.
As part of the New Year celebrations, a mega show by Stephen Devassy is planned on December 31 evening. However, the venue is yet to be finalised.
Facilities for disabled, pilgrims
Exclusive facilities would be put in place for the benefit of differently-abled people at the festival. For instance, the Corporation is planning to arrange a vehicle for them and offer free food. Moreover, differently-abled people would be taken to the spot where special illumination has been installed at Swaraj Round.
The night shopping festival also hopes to attract Sabarimala pilgrims by providing stay options and washrooms, said Deputy Mayor P Rafi Jose.
Responding to criticism that vehicles would not be allowed into the city at night during the festival days, City Mayor Ajitha Vijayan said that it was baseless. There would be no change in the parking arrangements at night, she added.
People who shop from the establishments in the city during the night festival days would be given a lucky-draw coupon. The prizes include car, bike and other attractive items, said Chamber of Commerce president T R Vijayakumar and Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithy secretary P J Pius.