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ILLUMINATIONS HISTORY

Holidaymakers first marveled at the Blackpool Illuminations in 1879 when just eight arc lamps graced the Promenade. These lamps were referred to as “artificial sunshine”. We light up the town for the very same reasons today – to wow you. The Illuminations are nationally-renowned as one of our most beloved traditional British events.

However, the sheer scale, style and professionalism of today’s free family event demonstrate how far Blackpool’s Illuminations have developed. The lights no longer go out as the tide comes in – they used to! This was as a result of water leaking into the cast iron wiring pipes on the seafront, oops!

May 1912

Princess Louise officially opened a new section of Promenade when lights were erected on Princess Parade. This was done to mark Blackpool’s first Royal visit.

The lights were so impressive that the council lit them again in September. Thousands of people visited the resort and the commercial potential became clear.

1914 – 1925

The war called a temporary halt to the display in 1914. The Illuminations were back by 1925 with giant animated tableaux being added to the display. The Blackpool Illuminations were then extended to almost six miles – from Squires Gate to Red Bank Road.

1939 – 1949

When the Second World War broke out, the Illuminations were halted again. These dark times meant that the lights did not return until 1949 when Anna Neagle (a popular English star) flipped the switch.

1953 – 1979

With no further service interruptions, these years witnessed some shining stars pressing the switch to light up our town. Which ones can you recognise?

  • 1953 – George Formby
  • 1964 – Gracie Fields
  • 1966 – Ken Dodd
  • 1972 – Danny La Rue
  • 1975 – Tom Baker
  • 1977 – Red Rum (yes, the racing horse!)

Today

More than 3.5 million visitors flocked to Blackpool to see the Illuminations for the 2016 Switch-On.

A huge team including artists, electricians, mechanics and engineers work year-round to ensure the display is ready for the big moment.

Staff devote 65,000 hours in total to maintenance, preparation, erection, operation and dismantling the fittings. The Lights’ cable and wiring stretches more than 74 miles, and there are more than 400,000 lamps of various types and styles.

We have introduced the latest technology low-voltage neon, lamps and micro processor controls in recent years. Furthermore, the electricity consumption has been reduced by nearly half. Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, top TV personality, is now part of our Illuminations team. Laurence was responsible for the creation of the fabulous “Decadence” and “Venus Reborn” features.