Long after Britain’s resorts close for the winter, Blackpool remains as buzzing as ever. When it’s too cold to swim in the sea or relax on the beach, the city streets light up with over one million bulbs, spanning 10 kilometres. While every town has their own winter light show, none of them compare to the Blackpool Illuminations.
Here are 5 things you never knew about this monumental display:
- Blackpool Illuminations is over 100 years old
Blackpool Illuminations was unofficially born way back in 1879, when eight arc lights shone on the promenade. Decades later in 1912, 10,000 were added to the mix to celebrate the opening of a new section of the promenade – this marked the official beginning of Blackpool Illuminations. Nowadays almost every type of light forms the elaborate display, including lasers, neons, floodlights and fibre optics.
- Each year a celebrity switches on the lights
Like most grand Christmas events in towns throughout the UK, Blackpool Illuminations always has a celebrity guest to switch on the lights. However, unlike other cities, it’s never a bottom-of-the-barrel, X-Factor reject or little-known b-lister, it’s always a genuine, credible star. Throughout 2015 Tim Burton filmed scenes from his upcoming movie, Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children, in Blackpool. To celebrate this year’s opening, the film director agreed to flick the switch. Previous celebrity guests include Peter Kay, Jonathan Ross, Robbie Williams and the cast of Top Gear. You can find the full list here.
- The display costs millions of pounds to stage
Each year Blackpool Illuminations costs £2.4 million to stage – which includes over £50,000 in electricity consumption. However, the event also brings in 3.5 million visitors and generates over £275 million for the local economy. In addition, the equipment alone is worth over £10 million, with an additional installation infrastructure worth over £9 million. All donations that are raised goes towards improving the event by creating new features for the following year.
- The preparation, installation and event provides hundreds of jobs
Forty five staff are permanently employed to ensure that Blackpool Illuminations runs smoothly and on time. This includes numerous artists, electricians, mechanics, joiners, engineers and painters. A combined total of 65,000 hours are required to organize, stage and dismantle the display. A vast number of part-time “freelancers” are also hired to manage the affair, including hundreds of street vendors, most of which operate on Rigby Road.
- Every year a concert kicks off the event
Every year Blackpool Illuminations has a grand switch on concert, which lasts an entire weekend. This year the event was headlined by The Vamps and featured performances from Professor Green, Toploader and the ridiculously talented pop duo, Jedward. Only 5,000 tickets were available, which were priced at £30 each.
Blackpool Illuminations is the biggest free light show in the world. It changes every year, showcasing brand new installations and top of the line technology in the art world. While Pleasure Beach has a seedy reputation, Blackpool Illuminations is anything but the tacky attraction its neighbouring partner seems to glean.