Day 1.  The Blackpool Illuminations 

The Blackpool Illuminations is an annual lights festival which was founded in 1879.  It started life with garlands of 10,000 coloured light bulbs strung along the seafront and was such a huge success that it continued as an annual event extending the tourist season by an extra two months.

Blackpool illuminations
Illuminated street leading to the seafront

The Illuminations or ‘The Lights’ as they are often referred to run from late August to early November each year.  The Lights extend for 6 miles (10 km) and contain more than one million light bulbs.  Each year on the opening night ‘The Big Switch On’ takes place with a live concert and a celebrity is invited to perform the switch on.  This year, for the first time, instead of a celebrity the illuminations were switched on by Star Trek with intergalactic help from a huge laser beam.  The switch on takes place on the Tower headland and it is so popular that around 100,000 people apply for the 20,000 tickets available.  The annual cost of staging the illuminations is £1.9m and although free to view, donation boxes are placed at each end of the promenade for voluntary contributions to help defray costs.

Blackpool illuminations
Blackpool Tower and the promenade illuminations

Most visitors drive slowly through the illuminations by car or coach but viewing the extravaganza on board a tram is also popular especially on one of the three illuminated trams which are shaped to resemble a train, a boat and a rocket.  It takes 22 weeks to assemble the lights and to check that they are all working and then a further 9 weeks to dismantle them at the end of the festival.

Blackpool illuminations from the top of the Tower
Night view from the top of Blackpool Tower

We ate dinner early so that we had plenty of time to view the illuminations.  Following our afternoon trip up the tower we noticed a poster offering ticket holders a return evening visit for an additional £3.  This offer seemed irresistible and so we returned at 8.00 p.m. to view the twinkling lights from the top of the Tower.

Blackpool illuminations from the top of the Tower
Sunset view from the upper viewing deck

It was very quiet and we were able to ascend the lift without any delays.  I’m so pleased we were able to appreciate the views both day and night.  We even climbed up to the outer viewing area once more but it was quite windy up there so we didn’t linger very long.

Blackpool illuminations
Blackpool illuminations

After leaving the Tower we strolled along the promenade as far south as Central Pier before boarding a northbound tram to Bispham which lies at one end of the illuminations.

Bispham Tram Station
Bispham Tram Station

Bispham tram station was built in 1932 and has a facade of columns and urns.  It used to contain a ticket hall and provide shelter for waiting passengers but is now closed and is only in use as a tram stop.  Recently Blackpool Civic Trust submitted plans to re-open the heritage station as a cafe so hopefully this will happen soon and bring the building back into use.

Blackpool illuminations illuminated tram
The ‘Western’ train illuminated tram
Blackpool illuminations illuminated tram
The illuminated Blackpool tram depicting a train

Along the cliff tops from Bispham to North Shore the displays comprise 40 large tableaux.  A path runs alongside the tableaux which are set back from the promenade beyond the tram track making it easy to view them.

Blackpool illuminations
Egyptian tableau at the Blackpool Illuminations

It was fun strolling past the various tableaux and watching the lighting effects.  The Egyptian tableau was very impressive as the sarcophagus opens to reveal a mummified secret.  In addition, to the side of the tableau a large mummy pops up to give onlookers a scare.

Blackpool illuminations
The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Blackpool Illuminations

Moving along we observed a wide variety of tableaux ranging from nursery rhyme characters to television favourites.  I particularly liked the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with Alice in Wonderland, featured above.  On reaching the end of the tableaux displays we caught a tram back to the North Pier and returned to our hotel after a fun filled day at the seaside in Blackpool.

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Other posts in this series:

A Weekend in Blackpool

Similar posts:

Blackpool Winter Break

Worthing and Brighton – a weekend break

Suggested accommodation in Blackpool:

The Boulevard Hotel Blackpool



69 thoughts on “Day 1.  The Blackpool Illuminations 

  1. Pingback: Blackpool – 12 top things to see and do – Love Travelling Blog

    1. Blackpool has upped its game from cheap boarding houses to stylish hotels and the illuminations still draw thousands of visitors each year. I think it’s the only place in the country that doesn’t have its main display at Christmas so it was clearly a good idea!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Day 1.  The Blackpool Illuminations – Northern Biz WordPress Blog

  3. jasonlikestotravel

    I haven’t been to Blackpool for a long time but this brings back some good memories. Really interesting hearing how the lights were switched on this year too! Great post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. inesdoesfashion

    This really changes my opinion of Blackpool! It’s great that they have an event that battles the grey British weather. The tableaux look wonderfull and so creative! Thanks for sharing this lovely post!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I remember being taken up to Blackpool as a child to see the Illuminations – it looks just as good these days as it did then! I love the illuminated trams; we only ever crawled along the promenade in the car.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Your pictures are superb Marion – gorgeous night shots. We haven’t been to the Illuminations for a few years now, but we used to make a point of going when our son was younger. We were caught a couple of times in horrendous traffic jams and started taking the tram which is a great way to see it all. I love the views from the Tower – only been up there during the day but this is definitely something we would enjoy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Joy. It was an absolute bonus being able to return up the Tower in the evening as we hadn’t heard about it before. I know what you mean about the traffic jams – when our sons were small we took them through the Illuminations several times and more often than not they had fallen asleep before they had seem them all!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. travelrat

    They used to have Illuminations in Morecambe, too, and we often had arguments about who put on the better show. Years we couldn’t afford to go, we’d go to Grange over Sands instead, and see the Morecambe lights from there. My cousin and I still sometimes argue about whether we cold see the Blackpool Illuminations from there, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: Little Miss Traveller is at it Again – Life Challenges Are Poetic

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