The Imagine Watford festival has been cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Watford Palace Theatre and Watford Borough Council say they have made the "difficult" decision to cancel the annual outdoor festival in light of advice from the Government and Public Health England.

With the UK currently on lockdown, people should only leave their homes to shop for essential items, exercise once a day and travel for essential work.

Government guidance also says that those who do go out should only do so with members of their household and must stay two metres (6ft) away from other people at all times.

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said the council is "incredibly disappointed" that the festival has had to be cancelled this year, but the decision was made on health and safety grounds.

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He said: "We recognise that these are exceptional circumstances.

"We have to put the health and safety of the public, including the artists who would have been performing in this year’s festival, first. We must protect our community, our most vulnerable and the NHS above all else.

“There will be a recovery and, at that time the arts, entertainment and culture, in their many guises, will play a vital part in rebuilding our confidence and enthusiasm for life.

"Imagine Watford 2021 will allow us to join together to celebrate spectacular outdoor performances and we will very much welcome the opportunity to showcase Watford and some of the world’s top performance artists next year.”

In 2011 the council and Watford Palace Theatre launched Imagine Watford, with the festival aimed at transforming perceptions of the town and kick-starting a process of partnership working between Watford’s cultural organisations.

Following the launch of the #WatfordTogether partnership, Watford’s creative leaders and organisations are combining their talents and experience to support the community through the immediate crisis and into recovery.

Brigid Larmour, Artistic Director & Chief Executive of Watford Palace Theatre, said: “We are very sad that the current situation makes it impossible to go ahead with the incredible festival of international and local artists we had lined up for Imagine Watford this June‎. But we're already looking ahead to joining everyone back out on our streets for Imagine 2021.

"Meanwhile we’re proud to be part of #WatfordTogether, Watford Borough Council’s brilliant initiative to share cultural projects across the town online, until we can all come together again face to face.”