From 1st September, a six-mile stretch of Blackpool promenade will be lit by thousands of lights as part of this year’s Blackpool Illuminations. Running until 5th November, over one million lightbulbs will be used over the 66 days of the event.
What is Blackpool Illuminations?
Founded over a century ago, in 1879, Blackpool Illuminations is a lights festival that is held every year on the promenade of the famous holiday town. The first festival was actually held a year before Thomas Edison patented the electric light bulb, an attraction that consisted of just eight carbon arc lamps.
The Illuminations have now turned into a major event. This year, over 3 million people are expected to attend over the course of the festival, starting with the switch-on of the lights on the 1st September. This year, a free concert is being staged for the switch-on, with headline performances from Example, Conor Maynard, Diversity and Louisa Johnson.
What to see at this year’s Illuminations
Past Illuminations have included exhibitions like the Star Trek Golden Mile, which celebrated 50 years of the iconic television series, Alice in Wonderland tableaus, illuminated boat trams and, of course, the lighting of Blackpool Tower.
LightPool at Blackpool Illuminations will see 3D light shows projected onto the front of the Tower building, an exhibition that recently benefitted from a £2 million investment from the Coastal Communities Fund. Headline shows include 'Chasing Stars,' featuring astronaut Tim Peake, and ‘Down the Rabbit Hole,’ another space-themed show that tells the story of an astronaut exploring new worlds.
This year, the World Fireworks Championship will also make its return to Blackpool. From the 8th-29th September, you can see the skies lit up by impressive fireworks displays from around the world. There will be one display a week, culminating in the winner’s announcement and a celebration display on 29th September.
Finally, the ‘[email protected]’ features unique light-based performances, including Spark! By Worldbeaters Music, a dynamic, choreographed drumming show with eye-catching glowing drums.
Also set to perform is AFISHAL, a drummer and DJ who uses specially engineered ‘light drums’ to remix famous dance tracks. You can see some of his work on his Youtube channel.
Lights on a huge scale
Blackpool Illuminations is one of the biggest light shows in the world, and as a result it takes a lot of equipment and effort to stage. This year, it is expected to cost in excess of £2 million, with over £10 million of equipment being used to put all the lights in place.
The lights use around 15 megawatts of electricity a day. To put that into context, that’s the equivalent of 3 million 5W LED lightbulbs, or enough to power over a thousand homes for a day. Over the 66 days that the illuminations run, the cost of electricity alone will be over £50,000.
A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to prepare for the Illuminations. It can take 22 weeks for the lights to be put up, and another 14 weeks to take them down. That means that there are only around 8-10 weeks of the year that Blackpool promenade is Illumination-free.
For more information about this year’s Blackpool illuminations, or to book VIP tickets for the switch-on concert, head to the Visit Blackpool website.