Blackpool Illuminations began in 1879 the year that saw the appearance of the first electric street lights in Blackpool, and it could hardly have been imagined at the time that this would be the beginning of a tradition that would grow into the glittering extravaganza that we see today. Those early lights comprised eight arc lamps which were given the description of "artifical sunshine".
The event was significant in that it was in the same year the first patent for light bulbs was granted in England, and Blackpool was the first town to have electric street lighting. The light generated was equivalent to almost 50,000 candles, and over 70,000 people travelled to Blackpool to watch the experiment. At a time when people's homes were lit by candles and oil, and the streets of their towns depended on gaslight the Blackpool electric street lights must have seemed an awesome vision. This use of pioneering technology was to set the tone for Blackpool Illuminations until the present time. Over the following 120 years or so the illuminations were progressively improved and expanded, and they now include every conceivable form of lights - floodlights, spotlights, searchlights, scenic designs, illuminated tableaux, fibre optics, lasers, neon. The total cost is about 2.5 million pounds and the equipment alone is worth 10 million pounds. It is anticipated that over 3.5 million people will arrive to see the lights and that the visitors will spend getting on for 300 million pounds in the resort. There are also special illuminations trams.
The annual illuminations switch on ceremony is an eagerly awaited event and is always a great occasion. The list of celebrities who have performed the switch on reads like a who's who of political, sporting and show business life. The year 2007 saw the illuminations weekend open with a live BBC 2 event where Doctor Who star David Tennant joined a great line-up of performing artistes - Natasha Bedingfield, Natalie Imbruglia, Gareth Gates, Ghosts, and McFly all performed at the concert. The event was hosted by Dale winton with Time Lord David tennant flicking the switch at the end of the show. Other acts included showgirls the Whoopee Beaux Belles dancing beneath the largest mirrorball in the world, and equestrian gymnasts the Bareback Burlesque troop. The free concert initiates the Big Blackpool switch-on weekend including other free events during the weekend and throughout the Illuminations period. Sunday September 2nd sees the opening of the World Fireworks Championship. A popular trivia question goes something like this " what have Dale Winton, Gary Barlow, Red Rum, Terry Wogan and Kermit the Frog all got in common ? ........they've all switched on the Blackpool Illuminations. The 'switch on' is Blackpool's biggest and brightest night of the year when the resort bursts into colour as the world famous illuminations are launched. Tens of thousands of people gather at the free event to celebrate the start of the start of the dazzling 66 night spectacular." Blackpool Illuminations : 31 August - 4 November 2007.
Some of the new features for 2007 include a section by top designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen with his Decodance creation which will incorporate a Doctor Who lights display containing characters from the latest series of the television programme.
The Festival of Light runs in tandem with the Illuminations and features exciting creations by internationally renowned lighting artists which will be presented during the period.
Friends of the Illuminations All those making a donation to the Illuminations Fund will receive a friends collectable pin badge and will be invited to register as an official Friend of the Lights, entitling them to recieve special invites to Friends events, newsletters, and other material and activities concerning the lights.
The World Fireworks Championships Top international experts stage stunning pyrotechnic displays during the opening weeks of Blackpool Illuminations. Central Promenade - Sundays or Fridays in September, build up from 7.30 pm, firework displays approx 8.30 pm (subject to suitable weather conditions.) "The skys above Blackpool's famous skyline provide the ideal canvas for spectacular firework displays. Each year the resort invites the worlds best protechnic experts to thrill and amaze the thousands of people who descend onto the promenade and piers to witness the night time extravaganzas."
The Autumn season is extremely popular for Blackpool illuminations short midweek and weekend breaks, or even one night stays in hotels, B&B's or self catering holiday flats and apartments. Some people take coach trip to see the lights and there are often lines of coaches on the Promenade when the lights are on. If you are staying in the resort you may require Blackpool illuminations holidays car parking, garages, or car or limo hire. Holiday accommodation may cater for families, couples, senior citizens and pensioners only or may take groups of singles - stag and hen parties. People wishing to take pets such as dogs or cats on holiday might want to ensure that their hotel or guest house is pet friendly.
Blackpool Tower Laser Beam is the latest illuminations feature and will be a new addition to the the skyline. Shining from the top of Blackpool tower, this will be display vivid patters and beams to a distance of thirty miles. It commenced on 17th October 2007.
Blackpool Christmas Lights. The illuminations end in November and although Blackpool does have festive lights over the christmas period these are similar to those found in any town over the holiday time and are not on the same scale as the illuminations. People often stay in Blackpool over Christmas and many places provide accommodation - often referred to as 'Turkey and Tinsel', 'Christmas Fayre' or 'Christmas Breaks.' Usually 3 or 4 nights. People also take trips in December for Blackpool shopping.
The award winning Blackpool Illuminations - 'The Most Electrifying Show on Earth' - Lighting Design winner 2006
Blackpool illuminations are the resorts annual Autumn lights display - often described with justification as the 'Greatest Free Show on Earth'. Although lights are held in other British locations the Blackpool Illuminations are by far the most spectacular and ambitious. They continue for 66 consecutive evenings from the beginning of September to early November, and extend for nearly six miles along the sea front from Squires Gate to Bispham, employing in excess of a million bulbs.
As the summer season draws to a close, the illuminations become a major tourist attraction, bringing millions of visitors to the resort each year. The illuminations now have a well merited place in British cultural life and are an essential aspect of Blackpool entertainment - with a trip to 'the lights' having become an established UK tradition.