Blackpool Illuminations

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.

This year, the Blackpool illuminations will run from 2 September to 6 November 2011. Have you booked your hotel room yet?

Illuminated train of lights, part of the Blackpool Illuminations

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.

Blackpool Tower glowing brightly, part of the Blackpool Illuminations

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.

A blur of lights and movement, part of the Blackpool Illuminations

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 the attraction is frequently referred to as the 'Greatest Free Show on Earth'.

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