Your Guide to the Blackpool Illuminations

Anyone who is even faintly familiar with the Lancashire seaside resort of Blackpool – as well as many who aren’t – will have heard of the Blackpool Illuminations, which has been a fabled event in the local events calendar since 1879.

As you might expect, this annual lights festival – which runs for 66 days each year from late August until early November – has considerably expanded in scale down the years, with thousands of people typically attending its switch-on event alone.

With the Lights set to shine once more from 31st August to 4th November 2018, you might be interested in the essential information that will enable you to get the most out of your own visit to this highly celebrated festival.


Enlightening beginnings

Today’s attendees to the Illuminations are used to the sight of literally miles of traditional festoons and tableaux along the Promenade – from Starr Gate at the south end of the town, right through to Bispham about one-and-a-half miles north of the town centre.

According to the Visit Blackpool website, however, the first event in 1879 offered up just eight arc lamps for attendees’ viewing pleasure. Having said that, given that – as observed by the Lancashire Telegraph this was 12 months before Thomas Edison even patented the electric light bulb, even ‘just’ the eight lights were probably an impressive enough sight.

The early Illuminations admittedly couldn’t live up to 21st-century technological and professional standards. It was once customary, for example, for the lights to go out as the tide came in, due to water leaking into the cast iron wiring pipes on the seafront.


What can you expect from today’s Illuminations?

With Blackpool Council continuing to fund the Illuminations show while inviting donations from the general public and business, it’s hardly surprising that the modern event has evolved in line with current circumstances and requirements.

The 2017 event, for example, saw the introduction of several new sponsored features to the main display, including a new road section incorporating giant twinkling illuminated castles, courtesy of Genting Casino and curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

Amazing 3D graphics also continued to be projected onto the iconic Tower building, while, as reported by the Manchester Evening News, the responsibility of performing the switch-on to get festivities underway was performed in 2017 by dance troupe Diversity.

The 2009 Britain’s Got Talent winners were following in distinguished footsteps, with others to have been given the honour down the years ranging from George Formby (1953) and Ken Dodd (1966) to Kermit the Frog (1979) and even the racehorse Red Rum (1977).


How do I get there?

Blackpool is superbly connected to the rest of England, with the M55 – which you can reach from Junction 32 off the M6 – taking you almost to the beach.

Train travel is also possible, direct services to Blackpool North being available from Manchester International Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria, Liverpool Lime Street and York.  

Meanwhile, affordable hotels in Blackpool can be found through popular online hotel booking platforms such as Toprooms.

Don’t miss your chance to take in the Blackpool Illuminations – it really is an event that everyone should experience at least once in their lives!




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