You've heard of Blackpool rock and Blackpool Tower, but Blackpool Illuminations are just as much part of the vibrant holiday atmosphere of the famous north west town. According to many, the illuminations are the greatest free of charge light show on the planet! From September until the beginning of January there's an opportunity to visit this fantastic world-famous exhibition. Just over half an hour from Lancaster House, there's a total of six miles of bright lights, illuminated trams and a wide range of fun and exciting activities that make it a perfect reason to make sure it's in your diary.
Each autumn, the amazing Illuminated Heritage Trams come out in the evenings
Bright and Illustrious History
The Illuminations started in 1879 with just one row of arc lamps mounted on poles along the promenade. It didn't become a switch on ceremony until 1934 and it heralded the changing season from the town's summer holiday season to the quieter autumn period. The lights were known as 'artificial sunshine' and were quite a curiosity as most homes at that time were lit by oil lamps and candles.
Over the years celebrities and sports personalities of the day were invited to switch on the illuminations and this in itself became a talking point in the lead up to the event. Who would it be this year? There have been some unusual switch on guests. In 1969 an RAF Canberra Bomber triggered the switch, and in 1977 Red Rum and his jockey rode through a sensor to switch on the lights. Other gimmicks have been Frank Bruno pulling a giant tin can ring pull, and another year a huge oversized electric plug placed into a giant socket. The Bee Gees lent their combined weight to push a giant plunger to switch on the lights in 1995.
Arts Lottery Award for New Illuminations
With an Arts Lottery Award granted in 2021, there will be exciting new illumination installations exhibited. Collaborating with Grundy Art Gallery and artist, Dr Chila Kumari Burman, there's a commission to complement the gallery's contemporary light collection. There will also be a series of digital commissions to create new work for the Promenade, Blackpool Tower and St John’s Square. All of this, a far cry from the original single row of arc lights.
By Car, or on Foot
Enjoy the carnival atmosphere from the comfort of your car - be prepared for very slow progress at peak times. Probably the best way to enjoy the light show is on foot, weaving your way through the crowds of happy festival goers and stopping to stare at the creativity and ingenuity on display. Spanning the length of the promenade, colourful festoon lights are displayed across the road and line the highway. Everywhere you look there are lights, from South Shore Pier, Sandcastle Water Park and Blackpool Pleasure Beach, including the rides! There is a new 'five rides in one' rollercoaster named Icon suspended over water, one for only the brave at heart!
The iconic Blackpool Tower with its panoramic view from the top
Lancaster House - a great base
Located close to the M6, and half an hour from Blackpool Illuminations, Lancaster House is an ideal base and provides a comfortable and friendly place to base yourself, away from the madding crowd but close enough to visit. With lots of other family activities, city sights and country grandeur, Lancaster House is perfectly placed for an Autumn or Winter break.
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