Home UK Christmas World Archive The Famous Blackpool Christmas Lights & Illuminations

The Famous Blackpool Christmas Lights & Illuminations

Blackpool Illuminations are one of the most famous light displays in the UK. Founded in 1879, the magical lights festival runs from the end of August until the beginning of November every year. The fantastic display spans a whopping 6 miles from the south end of the town to the north! Once described as ‘Artificial Sunshine’ the lights bring thousands of tourists to the city year after year!

blackpool tower at night with fireworks 
Each year the great ‘Switch On’ of the lights is a must see event! In 1934 a tradition was started in which a public figure, or celebrity would be invited to turn the lights on. This was first performed by Lord Derby and since then has seen the likes of Matt Busby, Terry Wogan, Robbie Williams and even Kermit the Frog given the honour of switching on the illuminations! In 1993, BBC Radio 1 first broadcast the switch on ceremony live, where Status Quo were the special guests!

A few facts about the great illuminations:

  1. They cost nearly £2.5 million to stage every year.
  2.  Up to 4 million visitors are expected to be attracted to the lights this autumn.
  3. The flocking visitors are likely to spend more than £275 million during their outing to the resort.
  4. For the first time ever this year the lights will shine non-stop for 73 nights.
  5. 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.
  6. Forty large tableaux holding more than 5,000 square metres in surface area are included in the display.
  7. The equipment weighs more than 711,000 kilograms which is equivalent to 350 Blackpool trams.
  8. The lights are supported by more than 1,500 poles.
  9. Electricity cable and wiring stretches more than 200 miles.
  10. There are more than 500 scenic designs and features.

 

Over the years, while more lights are being added to the display, more attempts to cut the energy needed to power the lights are being enforced. In 2012, 30 percent of all the light in the show came from LEDs which dramatically cut energy use and provide a nice glow to boot. Most of the display is now operated on low voltage and new technology means electricity consumption is being cut all the time. In 2004 wind turbines on the South Promenade contributed to powering the lights for the first time. The illuminations now only use green electricity from renewable sources.

Although the illuminations are not technically part of a Christmas light display, they are often associated with that Christmassy or wintery feel. Separate from the Illuminations, but still as part of the Festival of Light, Blackpool Christmas Lights are switched on every year in November in a very similar fashion to the Illuminations. They are located on various streets leading out of The Promenade. On Christmas Eve, and New Year's Eve, the Illuminations are switched on to accompany the Christmas Lights. What a fantastic display!

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