Inside Kitty Spencer's gorgeous Italian holiday
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Here we celebrate the Lancashire light fantastic with some illuminating facts…
In 1879, Blackpool was the first town in Britain to have electric street lighting and visitors first started arriving to see them. Just eight arc lamps lit up the Promenade.
The original arc lamps stopped working as the Irish Sea tide came in as water leaked into the cast iron pipes containing the wiring.
The first of the more familiar modern displays began in May 1912 to mark the royal visit by Princess Louise. They were so popular that the local council bowed to pressure to repeat the event in September… and an institution was born.
By 1932, animated tableaux had been added and these were installed on the Cliffs linking North Shore and Bispham.
The length of the Illuminations is just under six miles, starting at Squires Gate in South Shore and finishing at Red Bank Road in Bispham.
The lights were cancelled in 1939 after the outbreak of the Second World War and then post-war austerity meant that they were not switched back on until 1949.
The world-famous display is normally lit for 66 nights a year. However in 2020 they were extended for the first time over Christmas, shining for 122 nights. For 2021 they will again be extended for 122 nights.
The scale, density and content of the lights has been upgraded regularly and they now feature micro-controllers, LEDs, lasers and video.
Most of the 500 displays are made from wood, fibreglass, steel and aluminium.
The lighting equipment weighs more than 710 tonnes.
There are one million lamps and more than 100 miles of garlands strung between the Promenade poles and across the roads.
The cable and wiring for the lights is even longer – more than 200 miles.
Has anyone got 50p for the meter? The lights use £50,000 of electricity each season. However modern
LED lamps have cut the cost of powering them by two-thirds over
the last 10 years.
In total, the Illuminations cost more than £2million to stage each season.
More than 3.5 million visitors see them each year, spending more than £250million.
Lightworks, the Blackpool Illuminations Depot in Squires Gate, is where all the magic is made – the home of the design, construction, maintenance and the storage of all of the displays.
Twenty Lightworks staff – artists, electricians, joiners, mechanics, painters, engineers and technicians – work year-round on the displays.
Ex-Illuminations displays have been sold to countries around the world. They’ve dazzled in Barcelona, and sparkled amid the sun and sand of Saudi’s Jeddah.
While the 2020 Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On took a virtual format due to the pandemic, 2021 will see a hybrid show of a small audience within the Blackpool Tower Ballroom and will be streamed to a global audience online.
In normal times, the event is a star-studded night at Festival Headland in front of Blackpool Tower.
Celebs who have flicked the switch include Robbie Williams, Alan Carr, Shirley Bassey, the Top Gear team, Westlife, Steps… plus Grand National winner Red Rum and Kermit the Frog!
Blackpool Illuminations is a free show. However donation boxes are placed at the southern and northern gateways to the Illuminations.
These donations are used to create new features and help with maintenance of the Lights throughout the whole year so they are always much appreciated.
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