Blackpool Illuminations is a festival which takes place each year during the autumn months, lighting up the town and dark skies with an array of magical colours and displays.
In 1879 at least 70,000 visitors flocked to Blackpool’s promenade to witness the ‘switching on’ of the UK’s first electric streetlights (eight arc lamps). The next significant event was in 1912 when Princess Louise arrived to open the new section of the promenade. To celebrate the opening of the section, a display of lights was used to decorate the long promenade. Over 10,000 bulbs were used in the show and the visitors were so impressed they persuaded the council to have a light display again the following year. This has since become a regular event which takes place every year at the same time. The only times that the Blackpool Illuminations have ever been cancelled were during the First and Second World Wars.
The Blackpool Illuminations run for sixty-six days from the end of August/ early September to November each year. Over 400,000 lamps and 74 miles of cables and wires are used for the six mile long promenade illuminative display. Over the course of the whole festival, more than one million lamps of different shapes and sizes will play their part in the illuminations.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to witness the impressive display each year and many celebrities have been given the honour of switching on the lights over the years. They include: Shirley Bassey, the Bee Gees, Westlife, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Terry Wogan, Status Quo, Ken Dodd, Tom Baker, Frank Bruno, Jeremy Clarkson, and Chris de Burgh.
At the heart of the illuminations is Blackpool Tower, which is adorned with thousands of flickering lamp bulbs.
There are 45 members of staff, including artists, designers, electricians, joiners, engineers, and mechanics, who work all year round to prepare for the Blackpool Illuminations. Over 65,000 hours of work are put in to arranging the spectacular display each year.
In recent years, the Blackpool Illuminations have been using low voltage neon lamps, micro processor controls and wind turbines in a bid to help save energy and money. The Blackpool Illuminations approximately cost £2.4 million to stage each year.
Over the years the illuminative display has expanded into the town and there are a number of events taking place during the festival including charity events, firework displays, and musical gigs to help celebrate the occasion. A new scheme, Friends of the Illuminations, has been introduced with the hope to introduce education and interaction with the display in a bid to become a worldwide tourist attraction.
At a time when the rest of the UK is closing down after the summer months, Blackpool is coming alive with light and colours lighting up the autumn nights. The Blackpool Illuminations have become more and more popular over the years and this most famous of Blackpool attractions is frequently referred to as the ‘Greatest Free Show on Earth’.
In 2022, the Blackpool Illuminations will take place from 2nd September and they will continue until 2nd January 2023.
The Blackpool Illuminations stretch her 6 miles, from Starr Gate in the south all the way to Bispham in the north
There is no charge to see the Blackpool Illuminations, however you can make a voluntary donation should you wish to do so.
The first illuminated display on Blackpool promenade took place in 1879, however the first display similar to the current illuminations were held in May 1912 to mark the first visit to the town by the Royal family.
Some Blackpool trams have been specially adapted and modified in order to enhance the Blackpool illuminations. There are different designs including boats and steam trains which are illuminated and passengers can book in advance to ride these specially adapted trams.