CAROLS by Candlelight will not be held in Albury's QEII Square this year, despite COVID-19 controls being set to ease by December.
Mayor Kevin Mack said: "We've reluctantly made the decision not to stage Carols by Candlelight this year because of potential restrictions around mass gatherings.
"To successfully deliver this event we would have needed to be far advanced on auditions and rehearsals by now, but because of COVID-19, that hasn't been possible.
"We know how much our community appreciates carols and we hope to return next year, bigger and better than ever in a new COVID-normal environment."
It will be the second successive year without the concert, but Cr Mack said the council would repeat its Christmas in our Heart promotion.
"We will again focus on supporting local businesses, with landmark buildings to be lit up to encourage people to visit the city, enjoy the light show, and shop, dine and catch up with family and friends," he said.
Wodonga is taking a more optimistic approach to its Carols by Candlelight, with organiser Jacob Mildren saying plans were afoot to host it at an outdoor site.
However, Willow Park has been ruled out because it lacks fences to help with the policing of a crowd that may need to book.
Birallee Park, Martin Park and the showground are being considered, while The Cube has not been dismissed altogether.
A final decision is not expected until October.
"We want to bring the community together for Christmas and get back to normal," Mr Mildren said.
IN OTHER NEWS
News of Albury again losing its Christmas celebration comes as the city awaits to learn if it will be out of a seven-day lockdown from Thursday night.
NSW's COVID crisis group is to meet on Wednesday afternoon to consider the status of councils in lockdown, with a decision likely to be made public on Thursday.
Albury MP Justin Clancy says "he's quite hopeful we would be opening up", given its now more than a week since the first case came into the community.
Licensee of The Bended Elbow, Gavin Grant is keen to know if trading will be able to resume at his Albury hotel which can cater to 250.
"The problem is they're not going to let us know until Thursday and it's difficult to get everything by Friday," Mr Grant said.
"You really need two days, so you can get the orders in and then prepare."
With the AFL grand final on, Mr Grant expects it will be a busy period but he noted after the end of the last lockdown it took time to ramp up with more patrons on the Tuesday-Wednesday than the Saturday.
He said staffing was a major concern, given many were finding new careers.
Albury Business Connect chairman Barry Young said the lockdown occurring in school holidays had a major impact on retailers.
Business NSW Murray Riverina regional manager Anthony McFarlane said "it would be very welcome to be able to get out of lockdown by the end of this week for those businesses that have been closed or had their business model altered".