Blackpool Illuminations


Blackpool Illuminations

Blackpool Illuminations is an annual Lights Festival, founded in 1879 and first switched on 18 September that year, held each autumn in the English seaside resort of Blackpool on the Fylde Coast in Lancashire. Also known locally as The Lights or The Illuminations, they run each year for sixty six days, from late August until early November at a time when every other English seaside resorts seasons are coming to an end. Dubbed as "The greatest free light show on earth," they are six miles (9.65 kilometres) long and use over one million bulbs. The display stretches along the Promenade from Starr Gate at the south end of the town to Bispham in the north. In 2008 the Illuminations will run from 29 August to 2 November.cite web
title = Blackpool Illuminations
publisher = Visit Blackpool
url = http://www.visitblackpool.com/blackpool-illuminations
accessdate = 2007-12-02
]

History

The Illuminations first shined in 1879 when they were described as "Artificial sunshine", and consisted of just twelve Arc lamps which bathed the Promenade.cite web
title = History of the lights
publisher = Blackpool Tourism
url = http://www.blackpooltourism.com/?OBH=299&SCH=illuminations%20history&ID=0
accessdate = 2007-12-02
] The original event preceded Thomas Edison's patent of the electric light bulb by twelve months.cite web
title = Blackpool Illuminations
publisher = BBC Radio 2
url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/events/blackpool2005/
accessdate = 2007-12-02
] cite web
title = Illuminating facts
publisher = Visit Blackpool
url = http://www.visitblackpool.com/?OBH=305
accessdate = 2007-12-02
] The first display similar to the modern day displays was held in May 1912 to mark the first British Royal family visit to Blackpool when Princess Louise opened a new section of the Promenade, Princess Parade. The Promenade was decorated with what was described as "festoons of garland lamps" using about 10,000 light bulbs. The local Chamber of trade as well as other local businesses requested Blackpool Council to stage the event in September of the same year. The subsequent event was such a success that in 1913 the council were again asked to stage the "Princess Parade lights" as an end of season event. With the outbreak of World War I there were no further displays until 1925 when the lights were again on display and extended to run from Manchester Square to Cocker Square. In 1932 animated tableaux were erected running along the cliffs from North Shore to Bispham, and the Illuminations were extended to its current length running from Starr Gate to Red Bank Road at Bispham. The Illuminations were ready to shine in 1939 but the outbreak of World War II again interrupted the annual display.Every year there is also the "Festival of Light" which features interactive installations and is described as being "a contemporary look at the concept of light and art working together to create entertainment".

witch On

Each year the opening night of the Illuminations, "The Big Switch On", held in a specially erected BBC Radio 2 arena with a celebrity pulling a switch to turn on the six miles of lights. The first switch on ceremony was held in 1934 when Lord Derby flicked the switch to turn on the Illuminations.cite web
title = Switch On Celebrities
publisher = Blackpool Tourism
url = http://www.blackpooltourism.com/?OBH=302
accessdate = 2007-12-02
] In 1993 BBC Radio 1 first broadcast the switch on ceremony live when Status Quo were the guest celebrities, before in 1997 BBC Radio 2 started to cover it which continues to the present day. Each year one main celebrity pulls the switch while there are performances in the Radio 2 arena with a pre-switch on concert featuring pop bands, singers and comedians.

At the 2007 "Big Switch On" on 31 August, topping the bill in the pre-switch on concert was Natasha Bedingfield. Dale Winton presented the live broadcast which also featured McFly, Gareth Gates and Natalie Imbruglia who performed "Glorious", her new single which had been released that week, as well as singing "Torn". Others who appeared were the cast from the Chicago musical, Canadian musical duo RyanDan, the cast from the South Pacific musical and singer Steph Fraser.cite news
last = Gee
first = Chris
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = McFly set to light up Blackpool
publisher = Blackpool Citizen
date = 2007-08-22
url = http://www.blackpoolcitizen.co.uk/mostpopular.var.1634793.mostcommented.mcfly_set_to_light_up_blackpool.php
accessdate = 2007-12-03
] cite news
title = McFly perform at Blackpool Illuminations Switch On
publisher = McFly
url = http://www.mcflyofficial.com/news/index.php?id=1315
accessdate = 2007-12-03
]

witch On celebrities

The full list of celebrities who have switched on the illuminations is
*1934 Lord Derby
*1935 Audrey Mossom (Railway Queen)
*1936 Sir Josiah Stamp
*1937 Prince George, Duke of Kent
*1938 Councilor Mrs Quayle
*1939-1948 Canceled in 1939 due to outbreak of World War II
*1949 Anna Neagle
*1950 Wilfred Pickles
*1951 Stanley Matthews
*1952 Valerie Hobson
*1953 George Formby
*1954 Gilbert Harding
*1955 Jacob Malik (Russian Ambassador)
*1956 Reginald Dixon
*1957 John H Whitney (American Ambassador)
*1958 AE "Matty" Matthews
*1959 Jayne Mansfield
*1960 Janet Munro
*1961 Violet Carson
*1962 Shirley Anne Field
*1963 Cliff Michelmore
*1964 Gracie Fields
*1965 David Tomlinson
*1966 Ken Dodd
*1967 Horace King
*1968 Matt Busby
*1969 Canberra Bomber
*1970 Tony Blackburn
*1971 The cast of Dad's Army
*1972 Danny La Rue
*1973 Gordon Banks
*1974 Wendy Craig
*1975 Tom Baker (in costume as Doctor Who)
*1976 Carol Jean Grant (Miss United Kingdom)
*1977 Red Rum
*1978 Terry Wogan
*1979 Kermit the Frog and The Muppets
*1980 Cannon and Ball (Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball)
*1981 Earl & Countess Spencer
*1982 Rear Admiral Sandy Woodward
*1983 Cast of Coronation Street, switched on by Doris Speed
*1984 Johannes Rau (Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia) and David Waddington,(Minister of State, the Home Office)
*1985 Joanna Lumley, BBC Children in Need
*1986 Les Dawson
*1987 Frank Bough, Anne Gregg and Kathy Tayler all from the BBC Holiday programme
*1988 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman
*1989 Frank Bruno
*1990 Julie Goodyear and Roy Barraclough
*1991 Derek Jameson and Judith Chalmers
*1992 Lisa Stansfield
*1993 Status Quo & Radio 1
*1994 Shirley Bassey
*1995 Bee Gees & Radio 1
*1996 Eternal & Radio 1
*1997 Michael Ball & Radio 2
*1998 Chris de Burgh & Radio 2
*1999 Gary Barlow & Radio 2
*2000 Westlife & Radio 2
*2001 Steps & Radio 2
*2002 Ronan Keating & Radio 2
*2003 Blue & Radio 2
*2004 Geri Halliwell & Radio 2
*2005 Chris Evans & Radio 2
*2006 Dale Winton & Radio 2
*2007 David Tennant & Radio 2
*2008 Top Gear & Radio 2Current up to and including 2007. Statistics obtained from Blackpool Tourism.

Modern day Illuminations

Most visitors drive through the Illuminations by car, coach or bus. There are also open top trams which run along the tramway as well as horse-drawn landau. At Bispham there is a special walkway for the tableaux which also includes mixed media in the various large tableaux displays.cite news
title = Let there be lights
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2007-08-22
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpool-illuminations-2007/Let-there-be-lights.3138163.jp
accessdate = 2007-12-02
] The Illuminations cost £1.9M each year to stage.

For the 2007 Illuminations, Interior designer and television personality Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen best known for his appearances on the BBC television programme, "Changing Rooms" was commissioned to create special feature on Central Promenade outside Blackpool Tower, named "Decodance". Llewelyn-Bowen had stated that he fell in love with what he called "Blackpool's high-kicking glamour and historical reputation for giddy glitz" while filming for the "Holiday" programme.cite news
title = Llewelyn-Bowen unveils his illuminating creations
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2007-08-31
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpool-illuminations-2007/LlewelynBowen-unveils-his-illuminating-creations.3163803.jp
accessdate = 2007-12-02
]

The displays at the cliffs from North Shore to Bispham contain forty large tableaux holding more than 5,000 square metres in surface area. There is a pedestrian walkway running the length of the tableaux displays which are set back from the Promenade beyond the tramway. Blackpool Tramway runs along the entire length of the Illuminations and there are over one million lamps in the display. In 2007 the Egyptian tableau which includes Egyptian sarcophagus, which eerily opens to reveal a mummified secret, returned after an overhaul. Also at Bispham on the clifftop was a new BBC Portal video screen.cite news
title = Whats new?
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2007-08-22
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpool-illuminations-2007/Whats-new.3138184.jp
accessdate = 2007-12-02
]

Also in 2007 a new Doctor Who display appeared with monsters from the last three series of the show. In January 2008, it was stated that this section had been the most successful feature ever built in the Illuminations. And at Gynn Square on Gynn Island, a Space Invasion with an opalescent mothership hovering more than 40ft in the air, battling it out with eight spaceships arranged in formation defending their territory. The display which used colour-changing LEDs, was created from the popular alien craft which used to adorn the Promenade.

In October 2007, a laser beam installed on the tower for the duration of the annual Illuminations was criticized by Astronomer and presenter of The Sky at Night television programme, Patrick Moore who said, "Light pollution is a huge problem. I am not saying we should turn all the lights out, that is not practical, but there are some things which are very unnecessary. The Blackpool Tower light is certainly something I do not think we should be doing. I very much oppose it." The beam could be seen 30 miles away. Moore called for the beam to be stopped. The Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston said the laser has added to a spiraling problem affecting astronomy.cite news
title = Veteran TV star-gazer blasts tower laser
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2007-10-24
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/Veteran-TV-stargazer-blasts-tower.3408030.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-02
]

At the sixth annual Banquet and Ball on 9 January 2008, organized by the holiday trade umbrella group, Blackpool Combined Association, to raise funds for the Lights,cite news
last = Fleming
first = Craig
title = Banquet to raise funds for Lights
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2008-01-01
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Banquet-to-raise-funds-for.3630528.jp
accessdate = 2008-01-16
] the new Head of Illuminations, Michael Wilcock revealed new plans for the future of the Illuminations. These include,

* Plans to make the Lights, which at present are funded 80% by Blackpool Council, as self-sustaining as possible, with plans to increase business sponsorship.
* New, all year round, triumphal arches to be erected at either end of the Illuminations, "selling the Blackpool message."
* Extending the Doctor Who section for the 2008 season, "with eye-catching battles between Daleks and the Tardis."
* Increased promotion for the 2008 Illuminations season.
* Establishment of a "Friends of the Illuminations" group.

Blackpool Festival of Lights

Each year in conjunction with the Illuminations the "Blackpool Festival of Light", a fusion of art and light events and installations, is staged. In 2007 the Festival started on 31 August with various lighting displays throughout the town with displays by artists and also Blackpool and The Fylde College. These included a mixed media display entitled "Donkey Fest" on the cliffs at North Shore, "Water is Everywhere" by Creatmosphere at the Water Tower in North Shore which was an architectural light projection depicting moving water reflections, animating and highlighting the Water Tower building. Also, "Hypodoché" by artist Ann Carragher, an expression of the artists personal relationship between life, natural processes, and the female ‘space & voice’ of architecture throughout the ages. The light installation consisted of water and light was exhibited at a town centre art gallery.cite web
title = Festival of Light 2007
publisher = Visit Blackpool
date =2007
url = http://www.visitblackpool.com/?OBH=307
accessdate = 2007-12-02
] Also there was the United Kingdom's first "Illuminated Art Car Parade" on 21 Octobercite news
last = Marsden
first = Paul
title = Cars set to light up resort festival
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2007-07-05
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Cars-set-to-light-up.3005675.jp
accessdate = 2007-12-02
] cite news
last = Harris
first = Emma
title = Revamp for Illuminations
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2007-07-18
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Revamp-for-Illuminations.3047464.jp
accessdate = 2007-12-02
] as well as the return of the "Honda Goldwing Light Parade".

Illuminated cars

There are a variety of rebuilt single deck cars, of different designs, all of which were rebuilt as illuminated theme trams. These run along the illuminated part of the Promenade during the Illuminations.cite web
title = The trams
publisher = thetrams.co.uk
url = http://www.thetrams.co.uk/blackpool/trams/
accessdate = 2007-11-03
] A campaign by the local newspaper, the Blackpool Gazette in 2006 to get one of the Illuminated trams, "Western Train", back on track,cite news
title = Help save resort 'Western Train'
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2005-05-05
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpool-news/Help-save-resort-39Western-Train39.1018239.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-03
] resulted in a £278,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to restore the tramcar which first ran in 1962. It was withdrawn from service in 1999 and had stood derelict at the Rigby Road depot.cite news
title = Readers win battle to save Lights tram
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2006-10-04
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Readers-win-battle-to-save.1803172.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-03
] The tramcar is due to return during the Illuminations Switch-On in 2008.cite news
title = Public delight at tram cash pledge
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2006-10-10
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Public-delight-at-tram-cash.1814082.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-03
] In January 2008 it was revealed that another iconic illuminated tram, the "Rocket tram", which had been in service between 1961 and 1999 but which had since then stood idle, is also due to be restored with expectation being that it would return to service for the Illuminations in 2009 at a cost of about £150,000 and with the help of the "Friends of the Illuminations" group.cite news
last = Ettridge
first = Lisa
title = Iconic Blackpool tram to make Prom return
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2008-01-14
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Iconic-Blackpool-tram-to-make.3667079.jp
accessdate = 2008-01-16
]

Construction and energy

It takes twenty two weeks for all the lights to be erected in time for the Switch On each year and nine weeks to dismantle them after the display has finished. Most of the display is now operated on low voltage (12v and 24v) and in 2003 the Illuminations cut electricity consumption by 11% using new technology. Then in 2004 wind turbines at the Solarium on New South Promenade contributed to powering the Illuminations for the first time. The Illuminations now only use green electricity from renewable resources, comprising wind power, small-scale hydropower and Biogas. The aim is for the display to be carbon neutral by 2010.cite news
title = Turbo power
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2007-08-22
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpool-illuminations-2007/Turbo-power.3138240.jp
accessdate = 2007-12-02
]

Friends of the Illuminations

In January 2008 Blackpool Council announced plans to start a "Friends of the Illuminations" stating that they saw the future of the Illuminations as being more interactive, and that "the group would help us shape the future of one of the country's best, free attractions." and would also encourage worldwide support.cite news
last = Fleming
first = Craig
title = Begging bowl days are over
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2008-01-15
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Begging-bowl-days-are-over.3670899.jp
accessdate = 2008-01-16
]

ee also

*A584 road
*Emilios Hatjoullis
*Festivals in the United Kingdom
*Festival of Lights

References

External links

* [http://www.visitblackpool.com/illuminations Blackpool Illuminations]
* [http://www.blackpool-illuminations.net Blackpool Illuminations 2008. Switch on times, history.]
* [http://www.visitlancashire.com Official Lancashire Tourism information]


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