Blackpool Illuminations extended run is paying off for resort

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Early indicators show Blackpool’s decision to extend the Illuminations this year is paying off.

 

Public donations to the Lights and use of car parks have both increased, according to a council report, following the move to keep the display shining until January 3.

The report says: “Over the first two weeks of November (when the Illuminations would normally be switched off), parking patronage was almost double the level seen in the same period in 2019.

“The anecdotal evidence from accommodation businesses (both in the self-catering and serviced sectors) is that the high level of bookings over the remainder of this year has been fuelled by the extension of the Illuminations and greatly-enhanced Christmas offer.

Blackpool Illuminations

Blackpool Illuminations

“During those first two weeks of the extended Illuminations season, there was a significant increase in public donations at the collection points at the southern and northern gateways on the Promenade

“As a result, by mid-November, the total public donations had reached more than £105,000, ahead of the previous four years.”

The total (up to November 14) is £11,000 ahead of the same time last year, and compares to £102,000 collected in 2019 and £97,000 collected in 2018 (when the Illuminations only ran until the start of November).

Evidence of recovery is supported by think tank Centre For Cities whose research measuring high street footfall shows so far this year, Blackpool has the highest level of recovery in the UK at 114 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

Work has also begun in anticipation of a £4.5m cash injection for the Illuminations being confirmed this month, according to the report going before the tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee next Wednesday.

The funding is part of the Blackpool Town Deal with the business plan expected to secure government approval in December.

Investment will be made in new displays with talks already starting with boffins at Lancaster University about how new technology can be harnessed.

Apprentices will also be taken on and further specialist roles within the Illuminations team are being advertised.

New sponsors have also come on board this year, while the team has had commercial success supplying its expertise to other lights festivals.

It has put on Christmas displays for Chorley, Lytham, Lancaster and Morecambe and worked with the Duchy of Lancaster to light the Christmas tree in Lancaster Castle.

Future plans also include the possibiity of providing behind-the-scenes tours of the Illuminations Lightworks HQ.