Category Archives: Illuminations

Blackpool Lightpool Festival 2021: Best walking route, live show dates and times, and where to park

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

The stunning light festival returns with 16 days of free shows and art installations

 

Blackpool Lightpool Festival
An installation at the Blackpool Lightpool Festival (Image: Andy Torkington)

The Blackpool Lightpool festival is back and it’s bigger and better than ever for 2021.

From October 15 to 30, a whopping 16 new installations will wow visitors to the seaside town, keen to immerse themselves in artistic light installations and shows – alongside the illuminations already shining bright.

To enjoy the event at its best, most stunning potential, it is recommend to walk through the installations, where possible.

From the best route to take to where to park up before you walk the lights, we’ve put together a handy guide for people planning a visit to Blackpool in October.

What is the best route to walk?

Lumidogs at the Blackpool Lightpool Festival
Lumidogs at the Blackpool Lightpool Festival (Image: Blackpool Lightpool Festival)

We suggest you start at either Springfield Road, close to Blackpool North train station and make your way down to Bickerstaffe Square, or the same route in reverse, if you prefer.

The full route is approximately four-miles long and will take in all installations at locations including Blackpool Central Promenade, Blackpool Tower, Grundy Art Gallery, Tower Festival Headland, the Comedy Carpet, Winter Gardens and St John’s Church.

It should take around an hour and a half in total to walk to every area of the event, so allow plenty more time on top of that to enjoy each installation once you get there – just think of your step count!

Please be aware that some installations, such as one-off shows and those involving live performances will be limited to set times and dates.

Here’s a route suggestion you could take on your visit to the festival, if you are keen to seethe ART TRAIL installations, which run from Monday, October 18 to Saturday, October 30, 6pm-10pm:

Stop one: The Old Electric Springfield Road – 100 Local Lanterns created and crafted in a series of workshops will be on display in The Old Electric, forming a community exhibition.

Stop two: Abingdon Street – the Big Bird sculpture is new for this year’s light-fest.

Stop three: St John’s Church – Watch as the church is reclaimed by nature . in a large-scale projection.

Stop four: Grundy Art Gallery – check out exterior projection, the Blackpool Light of My Life.

Stop five: Winter Gardens – you’ll find a number of installations here, including And Then I Slipped, Power The Tower, 500 at

Pavilion Theatre.

Stop six: Houndshill Shopping Centre – The White Tiger roars into Blackpool.

Stop seven: Comedy Carpet -Tower Projectionsget taken in by the 3D projections as they light up the Blackpool Tower building, where you can also experience Astral Dreams project, as part of the Blackpool Illuminations programme.

Stop eight: Tower Festival Headland/Blackpool Tower – Walk through the Spiro light tunnel and you can also experience Aqualux,co-friendly light feature and there will also be an illuminated truck on selected days

Stop nine: Adelaide Street West -Stop and wonder at Lasertonic, which uses sound and colour to transform its surroundings.

Stop 10: Central Promenade – multi-sensory display House of Cards,

Stop 11: Bickerstaffe Square – stroll through the Digital Playground, complete with oversized robotic flowers as you move around.

For more information and the full Lightpool programme for 2021, click here.

Blackpool Lightpool Festival 2021
Blackpool Lightpool Festival 2021 (Image: Gregg-Wolstenholme)

What live performances are there to see?

Besides the art trail, there’s a plethora of live action shows and experiences to soak in during the festival’s 166-day programme.

Symphony of Light @ Olympia, Winter Gardens, Friday, October 22, 7pm–9:30pm

A experience with music, lasers, artwork and immersive lighting effects. Shows every 30 minutes.

World Fireworks Championship Blackpool @ Tower Festival Headland, Saturday, October 23, 8.30pm

The finale of the fireworks championships featuring a celebratory display by Titanium Fireworks.

Illuminated Tram Parade Featuring Spark! @ Central Promenade, Wednesday, October 27, 5.30pm

For one night only, the illuminated tram parade features a battleship, trawler and Great Western train travelling in convoy, joined by the high-impact drumming and superb choreography of the Spark! LED drummers, Lumidogs and a cast of illuminated giant puppets.

Global Grooves Carnival @ The Blackpool Tower Ballroom, Thursday, October 28, 6pm and 8pm

A menagerie of carnival characters will hit the Blackpool Tower Ballroom floor for an electrifying performance of music, puppetry and dance.

Silent Disco @ The Blackpool Tower Fifth Floor, Friday, October 29, 7pm-9.30pm,

Suitable for all ages, the Silent Disco will have three different music choices playing continuously throughout the night.

The Nixies of Oakpool by The Electric Sunshine Project (Springfield Road), October, 27, 28, 29, 6.30pm and 7.30pm

A spellbinding, interactive story using animation, puppetry, lights and music to retell how the Illuminations were originated.

Blackpool Lightpool Carnival of Light tunnel
Blackpool Lightpool Carnival of Light 2019

Where is best to park?

There will be limited parking along the seafront.

Visitors are urged to use the park and ride facility at Blackpool Airport, which is also open at weekends and peak times.

Find out more parking options here.

Nixies of Oakpool at the Blackpool Lightpool Festival
Nixies of Oakpool at the Blackpool Lightpool Festival (Image: Blackpool Lightpool Festival)

Are there public toilets?

There’s a number of pay-to-enter toilets.

This includes between Festival House and the Information Centre at the North Pier, Central Car Park, Bispham tram stop and on the South Shore near the Solaris Building.

Shoppers can use lavatories at Houndshill Shopping Centre food court, marks and Spencer and the Winter gardens complex

 

 

Native American gives the real reason he thinks Blackpool Illuminations design should change

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

NHS Manager and author Anthony Perry says he is trying to ‘fix something that is wrong’

 

The 'Wild West' themed display in Blackpool
The ‘Wild West’ themed display in Blackpool

A member of the Native American community in the UK has spoken out about his reasons for taking issue with a ‘Wild West’ tableau at Blackpool Illuminations.

NHS Manager and author Anthony Perry grew up in Oklahoma, USA and moved to the UK 18 years ago.

He now lives in Exeter with his wife and two children and is a citizen of the Chickasaw nation.

Last week, he wrote to Blackpool councillors regarding a ‘Wild West’ tableau that had been on display at Blackpool Illuminations since the 1960s.

It was discovered by a Canadian friend of his, also a Native American, after going on the Visit Blackpool website to plan a trip. Located just north of the promenade, the lights depict men in war headdresses dancing around a totem pole surrounded by cacti.

In his letter, Anthony expressed that he was dismayed to see stereotypical Native people’s dancing which he feels have long been caricatured, often in the name of ‘honouring’ them.

“Caricatures such as these reinforce racial stereotypes of Native Americans being primitive people who have no place in modern society,” said Anthony.

“There is a long history of attempts to erase our culture, redefine our history and assimilate us with Euro-centric ideals. These attempts continue to this day in North America and abroad. Much of it is so insidious that those who do it don’t even know, and some believe that what they’re doing honours people like me.

“Sometimes, it’s very much treated as ‘these are the ways we’re going to celebrate you so just accept it’.”

In his letter, Anthony referenced the discovery by indigenous peoples across Canada and North America of 751 unmarked graves at Marieval Indian Residential School in June and 251 graves at Kamloops Indian Residential School in May.

Residential schools, he stated, were but one part of the strategy to erase Native American histories and identities.

Many Native families, including Anthony’s, have relatives who stayed in residential schools or know others who did, with several still in operation as recently as the late 1990s.

Anthony added: “Research has shown that caricatures like these have harmed Native youth by lowering self-esteem and increasing depression and rates of self-harm and substance abuse.

Tony Perry, NHS Manager and Author, who wrote to Blackpool councillors about 'Wild West' tableau
Tony Perry, NHS Manager and Author, who wrote to Blackpool councillors about ‘Wild West’ tableau (Image: Chickasaw Press – Chickasaw Nation)

“Geographically that particular tableau is all over the place too. You have stereotypes of Native Americans depicted with cacti, which are more associated with the South West, and totem poles which are typically associated with the Pacific North West.

“It’d be like casually putting together Germans, English, the Spanish perhaps with a Celtic cross, it just doesn’t fit right!

“It’s the fact that on Visit Blackpool’s website, this was the main image to advertise Blackpool Illuminations and acted as the ‘draw’.

“It does little to promote Blackpool as a welcoming community.”

There have been constructive discussions with Blackpool Council about options for the tableau, revealing that there is a possibility of future government funding for Blackpool Illuminations.

This may provide the perfect opportunity to have a new tableau that truly represents the culture.

Anthony has suggested that a new light display be created using Native American artists which he knows will do a great job.

He said: “I want to turn this into a positive thing and have something which represents out culture fantastically.

“Frankly, a lot of people in the UK do not know anything about Native Americans and why should they? It is hard enough raising these issues in America!

“But Native people have played a part in British history and close to Blackpool itself.”

“Several warriors from my own tribe passed through nearby Preston with an English regiment in the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. These caricatures just fail to recognise that we aren’t people of the past; we have endured, despite the odds, we persist and we thrive. We also are among the migrants who have found a home in global Britain.

“This isn’t about being ‘woke’ and I’m not doing it just because I’m bored. Trust me, I have a very busy life! I’m not out to ‘take down’ Blackpool Illuminations or the town either. I’m just trying to fix something that is wrong. For me, this is just about recognising that Native American people are still here. We want to be treated in the same way as black and other minority people with same respect and representation.”

Anthony has written a book called Chula the Fox and others which explores his tribal connections and life for ancestors.

 

Blackpool Lightpool Festival 2021 – what’s on, venues and dates

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

The stunning light festival returns with 16 days of free shows and art installations

 

Illuminated tram parade
Illuminated tram parade (Image: Martin Bostock Photography)

The Lightpool festival returns to Blackpool for 2021, and its bigger than ever.

The free 16-night programme will run from October 15 to 30 and will feature a blend of art installations, 3D projections and live shows.

“We have a total of 27 artworks, some of which have never been seen in this country before,” Phil said.

“Along with the return of tried and tested favourites such as the illuminated tram parade, larger-than-life carnival characters, the Spark! LED drummers and new outdoor projection shows, it promises to be the most magical two weeks imaginable”.

We’ve put together must-see highlights of the light festival coming to the seafront and beyond, below.

Blackpool Lightpool Festival
An installation at the Blackpool Lightpool Festival (Image: Andy Torkington)

Art trail

Monday, October 18 to Saturday, October 30, 6pm-10pm (apart from Luma which is only October 27-30)

House of Cards @Central Promenade

This is an outdoor multi-sensory display that collapses and rebuilds itself in front of you and has already wowed audiences in Amsterdam, Berlin, Bucharest and Milan.

It consists of 128 LED light boxes in the form of playing cards, programmed to choreography.

Aqualux @ Tower Festival Headland

An eco-friendly light feature to showcase the importance of water and preserving it.

In addition, on selected days, an illuminated Peterbilt truck will tour the streets of Blackpool with Aqualux on-board..

Spiro @ Tower Festival Headland

Walk through this stunning light tunnel, which spans 26 metres and has individually-mapped LEDs

Tower Projections @ Comedy Carpet

Get taken in by the 3D projections as they light up the Blackpool Tower building, where you can also experience Astral Dreams project, as part of the Blackpool Illuminations programme.

Digital Playground @ Bickerstaffe Square

Walk through this forest installation, complete with oversized robotic flowers and as you move around, the sculpture will subtly change in mood and appearance. Cool, eh?

And Then I Slipped @ Winter Gardens

New for 2021, lurk under the shimmering waterfall lights and see where it takes you.

Luma @ Winter Gardens

Luma is a eight-metre long, robotic inflatable snail – but don’t worry, she’s welcome band gentle and loves crowds.

Lumidogs at the Blackpool Lightpool Festival
Lumidogs at the Blackpool Lightpool Festival (Image: Blackpool Lightpool Festival)

Power the Tower @ Winter Gardens

Get on a bike and have a go at pedalling hard enough to power to light up the Blackpool Tower model.

500 @Pavilion Theatre, Winter Gardens

At 500, four of Blackpool’s entertainment venues are showcased.

The Nature Take Over @ St John’s Church

Watch as the church is reclaimed by nature as large vines, flowers, fruit, fungus and creatures take over the church exterior. This large-scale projection shows bold and colourful hand-drawn animations as they dance and sweep over the building’s surface, synchronised to music.

Blackpool Light of My Life @ Grundy Art Gallery

Check out this art installation by the internationally recognised artist, Chila Kumari Singh Burman.

After high-profile projects for Tate Britain and Covent Garden in London, the artist has now turned her sights to Blackpool and the exterior of the town’s Grade II listed Grundy Art Gallery.

Blackpool Lightpool Festival 2021
Blackpool Lightpool Festival 2021 (Image: Gregg-Wolstenholme)

White Tiger @ Houndshill Shopping Centre

The White Tiger roars into Blackpool. The car was originally created to celebrate the launch of the critically-acclaimed film The White Tiger, which is based on the New York Times bestseller and 2008 Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name.

Big Bird @ Abingdon Street

Another new addition for 2021, this 3.5 metre-high pigeon sculpture is made out of the parts of 10 London taxis and illuminated by the Blackpool Illuminations team.

Lasertonic @ Adelaide Street West

Joining Big Bird for the first time at this year’s festival, this laser projection uses sound and colour to transform its surroundings.

100 Local Lanterns @ The Old Electric, Springfield Road

Beautiful lanterns created and crafted in a series of workshops will be on display in The Old Electric, forming a community exhibition.

Live performances (various dates and venues)

Nixies of Oakpool at the Blackpool Lightpool Festival
Nixies of Oakpool at the Blackpool Lightpool Festival (Image: Blackpool Lightpool Festival)

Symphony of Light @ Olympia, Winter Gardens, Friday, October 22, 7pm–9:30pm

A experience with music, lasers, artwork and immersive lighting effects. Shows every 30 minutes.

World Fireworks Championship Blackpool @ Tower Festival Headland, Saturday, October 23, 8.30pm

The finale of the fireworks championships featuring a celebratory display by Titanium Fireworks.

Illuminated Tram Parade Featuring Spark! @ Central Promenade, Wednesday, October 27, 5.30pm

For one night only, the illuminated tram parade features a battleship, trawler and Great Western train travelling in convoy, joined by the high-impact drumming and superb choreography of the Spark! LED drummers, Lumidogs and a cast of illuminated giant puppets.

Global Grooves Carnival @ The Blackpool Tower Ballroom, Thursday, October 28, 6pm and 8pm

A menagerie of carnival characters will hit the Blackpool Tower Ballroom floor for an electrifying performance of music, puppetry and dance.

Silent Disco @ The Blackpool Tower Fifth Floor, Friday, October 29, 7pm-9.30pm,

Suitable for all ages, the Silent Disco will have three different music choices playing continuously throughout the night.

The Nixies of Oakpool by The Electric Sunshine Project (Springfield Road), October, 27, 28, 29, 6.30pm and 7.30pm

A spellbinding, interactive story using animation, puppetry, lights and music to retell how the Illuminations were originated.

‘Red Indian’ lights display “paints Blackpool as a community that supports racism and discrimination”

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The six decade reign of a Blackpool Illuminations lights display may come to an end next year following a serious conversation about racism and the problems of  culturally offensive caricatures.

 

Blackpool Council defended the resort’s inclusion of allegedly racist imagery in its famous Illuminations following complaints from a member of the Chickasaw Nation, living in England.

The offending tableau, located north of Blackpool Promenade near the junction of Cavendish Road, Bispham, depicts six axe-wielding Native Americans in war bonnets dancing around a totem pole. The man said it reinforced racial stereotypes.

A council spokesman said the lights were ‘were designed and created many years ago and intended to be a celebration of different cultures’ – but added that their continued use in upcoming years would be addressed.

Picture by Dan Martino

Picture by Dan Martino

In a letter shared with The Gazette, the Chickasaw Nation man, who met with council bosses yesterday to discuss the lights, said: “Caricatures such as these reinforce racial stereotypes of Native Americans as being primitive people who have no place in modern society. Research has shown that caricatures like these have harmed Native youth by lowering self-esteem and increasing depression and rates of self-harm and substance abuse. It has also increased discrimination against Native students.”

He added: “This is not the approach I would expect from a community whose Council unanimously supported a resolution to ‘confirm support for the anti-racist aims of Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism campaigns.’. Between now and January 2022, the night sky of Blackpool will beam a very different message until this exhibit is removed or concealed.

“Showing – let alone promoting – such illuminations also does little to promote Blackpool as a welcoming community. Instead, it paints Blackpool as a community that supports racism and discrimination. It doesn’t reflect the difficult conversations and changing societal values on race that we’ve seen since the Black Lives Matter protests that sparked your resolution. Worse still, these illuminations are seen by hundreds of thousands of people each year, which means that they spread stereotypes to other communities in the UK and beyond.

“Finally, it shows limited awareness of the contributions that Native people have played in British history. In fact, several warriors from my own tribe, the Chickasaw Nation, passed through nearby Preston with an English regiment in the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. It also fails to recognise that we aren’t people of the past; we have endured, despite the odds, we persist and we thrive. We also are among the migrants who have found a home in global Britain.

The tableau which has been criticised for perpetuating racial stereotypes

The tableau which has been criticised for perpetuating racial stereotypes

“I would not expect such an exhibit to stand if it contained caricatures of Black, Asian or other peoples of colour; nor should it stand if it contains caricatures of the first peoples of the United States and Canada.”

Stereotypical portrayals of Native Americans and Canadians, historically a popular choice of mascot for sports teams, have been phased out in recent years following criticism from anti-racism campaigners.

Last year, Exeter Chiefs axed their culturally offensive ‘Big Chief’ mascot, replacing it with a hawk called Tom.

Numerous American football and baseball teams also rebranded themselves. In July 2020, the Washington Redskins team was renamed the Washington Football Team following years of protests over the name, which is a derogatory term for Native Americans. Five months later, the Cleveland Indians team followed suit and was renamed the Cleveland Guardians.

Picture by Dan Martino

Picture by Dan Martino

In 2006 the Texas-based Midwestern State University Indians became the Mustangs to ‘eliminate the potential for a hostile or abusive environment’. In 2007 the University of Illinois dropped its ‘Chief Illiniwek’ logo and mascot, and in 2008 the Arkansas State University changed its mascot from an axe-wielding ‘Indian’ to a red wolf.

Councillor Tony Williams, who was among a long list of councillors to be contacted, said: “Some of these displays go back to the 60s when attitudes and perspectives were much different and the writer has raised some valid points.

“Several Western-themed films have been banned in the US for the very reasons stated. Whilst in themselves the displays may not be offensive they certainly portray a distorted view of Native Americans and their culture.”

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “Our officers have been in constructive discussion with two people of Native American origin who raised concerns about the tableau.

“We have explained the background to the historic elements of the Illuminations display and assured them that these were designed and created many years ago and intended to be a celebration of different cultures. Both have accepted that assurance.

“The Illuminations are one of the UK’s most enduring family attractions and we would never do anything intended to cause offence. We will, as a matter of course, take on board the comments received and review which features are appropriate for inclusion in next year’s display. We have also agreed to explore options for a new tableau that celebrates native American culture with input from the network based in the UK.”

Criticism of the ‘red Indian’ stereotype

Popular criticism of Native American caricatures dates all the way back to the 1960s, the same decade the Illuminations display was first put on show. Indigenous peoples and their supporters increasingly objected to the stereotypes, which they found offensive.

Arguments continue to be made about the use of Native American and Canadian cultures as a source of entertainment. Chieftains were once popular choices for sports team mascots, while ‘Red Indian’ themed Halloween costumes can still be purchased in some fancy dress shops.

These things, activists say, perpetuate harmful ethnic stereotypes about Native Americans, portraying them either as fierce warriors or ‘noble savages’.

Professor Phillip Deloria, of the Arab American National Museum, said: “After colonisation and conquest of American Indian people was complete, the older stereotypes of Indian stereotypes and violence really gave way to the much more placid, friendly kind of stereotypes about Indians being natural primitives. And that primitive kind of Indian was no longer savage but had all kinds of virtues that people wanted to appropriate and adopt for themselves.

“There’s a new kind of savagery. It’s no longer the savagery of being an Indian who’s out on the frontier who will kill you, it’s the savagery of being contaminated by modern society. Those old Indians who would scalp you at a moment’s notice give way to a new Indian savage who is the drunk in the street, who has been corrupted by American society.”

He added: “You can see a stereotype taking shape as a big cultural ideology – a set of expectations about what Indian people or other people are going to do, how they’re going to behave, how they live their lives. That makes its way into the cultural infrastructure that just seeps its way into all of our minds and our hearts and our souls. It’s an ideology.”

 

 

Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On 2021: 21 amazing photos from an electrifying evening

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

KSI entertained crowds from inside Blackpool Tower Ballroom while Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas officially switched on the bright lights for 2021

Blackpool Tower comes alive as the illuminations are switched on

Blackpool Tower comes alive as the illuminations are switched on (Image: VisitBlackpool)

Blackpool Illuminations have been switched back on much to the delight of tens of thousands of people watching on from the resort’s streets and seafront.

Crowds gathered outside Blackpool Tower last night (September 3) for the switch on of the 2021 illuminations.

To mark the event, a ticketed event took place within the Tower Ballroom with KSI, The Wombats, Ella Henderson and Wes Nelson taking to the stage to entertain a 1,500-strong crowd.

“I’m very happy to be here,” KSI said.

“The heart of England – Blackpool.”

Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas was given the honour of turning the lights on and described it as a ‘dream come true’.

Shirley said: “I have been coming to Blackpool since I was a child and have seen the iconic Illuminations so many times over the years. I am thrilled and honoured to have been able to switch on the 2021 display and to be a part of the first Switch-On event in this wonderful ballroom. It‘s a dream come true.”

A VisitBlackpool spokesperson said: “We are thrilled that Shirley was able to grace our Switch-On stage in the magnificent setting of the Tower Ballroom. It is a moment we will all treasure.”

The live stream including the Switch-On moment and the music performances will be available to view free of charge throughout the weekend until 9.30pm on Sunday, (September 5) here.

This year’s Blackpool Illuminations will run until Monday, January 3, 2022.

For a re-cap of the switch-on, see our live blog here.

Otherwise, enjoy the below pictures from an amazing event for Blackpool and Lancashire:

Fireworks as the illuminations are turned on
Fireworks as the illuminations are turned on

 

(Image: Blackpool Council)1 of 21

Strictly star Shirley Ballas lights up Blackpool and the world as she pulls the lever to launch 2021’s Illuminations

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Showbiz queen Shirley Ballas put on a flawless performance as she flicked the switch to launch another dazzling Illuminations season.

 

During her yearly trip to the Tower Ballroom, where she runs the rule over celebrities on Strictly Come Dancing, the 60-year-old head judge is usually working her magic from the shadows.

But tonight, in front of a 1,500-strong crowd, she took centre stage – and the spotlight – in a black and silver glistening strapless top and cigarette trousers and heels to pull the lever and light up the Tower and Golden Mile until early next year.

Shirley said that, despite visiting the resort for dancing contests since the age of seven, including a festival win at 18, doing the honours shortly before 9pm was a highlight trip.

Loading video

“It’s bigger than Strictly,” she laughed.

“It’s just an iconic moment in an iconic ballroom and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.

“Never could I have imagined all those years ago, dancing in this magnificent ballroom, the greatest in the world, I would one day be switching on the Lights.

“It’s just wonderful.”
The Queen of Latin and Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas, who found success in Blackpool as a young dancer in the '80s, flicked the switch on the Illuminations on the evening of Friday, September 3, 2021 inside the Tower Ballroom (Picture: Darren Nelson)

The Queen of Latin and Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas, who found success in Blackpool as a young dancer in the ’80s, flicked the switch on the Illuminations on the evening of Friday, September 3, 2021 inside the Tower Ballroom (Picture: Darren Nelson)

Those inside the 127-year-old venue, transformed into a concert hall with two stages to host the Switch-On for the first time, earlier watched musical performances from multiple-platinum selling Ella Henderson, Reading Festival headlining indie band The Wombats, and former Love Island and Dancing On Ice contestant Wes Nelson.

Ella, 25, who shot to fame after finishing sixth on The X Factor in 2012 and signing a record deal that saw her release number one album Chapter One, said she was overjoyed to be performing again – after spending lockdown writing new music at a piano.

She said: “I remember coming to Blackpool with my friend for a dance competition when we were around seven.

“We had a great time, visiting the Pleasure Beach, getting up the Tower, but we stayed in this little hotel and we ended up getting stuck in the lift!

“I’m hoping it’s not going to happen to me this time.”

Wes, 23, who signed a solo record deal with EMI Records last year ahead of his first single See Nobody featuring Hardy Caprio, told The Gazette stepping into the Ballroom for his first live performance was overwhelming but exciting.

“I came to Blackpool a few times when I was small,” he said.

“I had some great times on the dodgems and in the arcades.

“Now to be part of the Illuminations… that’s just massive.

“I’m so grateful to be here.”

Television and radio presenter Becca Dudley hosted the proceedings, which were beamed around the world via VisitBlackpool and MTV’s YouTube channel, while KSI, a quasi-celeb who turned a hobby filming videos in his bedroom into a career as a boxer and singer, also performed.

The YouTuber, whose real name is Olajide Olayinka Williams ‘JJ’ Olatunji, thanked the “wild” crowd for its welcome, adding: “It’s getting hot in here… insane.”

Families, couples, friends, and holidaymakers were among the ticket holders, who applied for their free places in a ballot.

Lucy Alcorn, 22, from Clayton-le-Moors near Accrington in east Lancashire, said: “My first time at the Switch-On was when I was 14 and I’ve been lucky to get tickets for every one since.

“It’s always such a great night.”

Lucy travelled to the resort with sister duo Sam and Kath Sharpe.

Sam said: “It’s such a buzz. The Tower is great.”

Jordan Brooke from the West Midlands was enjoying a dance with her three children Mia, seven, Esme, five, and Noah, four, and said the ceremony was a treat for the youngsters.

She said: “It’s their first time at the Illuminations so we feel really lucky to be here.”

Christina Grantham, her partner Christopher Nicholson, and her two daughters Amy and Mia Storey, from Blackpool, said they couldn’t believe their luck after winning tickets.

“We moved here 18 months ago and [because of the pandemic] Blackpool was dead,” Christina said.

“What a way to experience it properly for the first time than at the Illuminations.

“We’re having a great time.”

Millions of visitors – as well as plenty of locals – will drive, walk, cycle, jog, and be taken on landau rides below the glowing bulbs that straddle the Promenade until Monday, January 3, 2022, with the annual display extended over Christmas and New Year for the first time.

Only the pandemic scuppered efforts to do the same last season.

The Illuminations also feature a number of other firsts.

They include a nightly laser show called Astral Dreams.

Designed by local man Jack Irvings, it will be projected onto the Tower.

Household favourite Laurence Llewelyn Bowen will also show off a water feature called Venus Remixed at South Beach.

The Changing Rooms star, who is the Lights’s creative chief, said: “This year, perhaps more than any other year, switching on Blackpool’s Illuminations marks an important moment of brightness as the country moves into autumn and winter.

“Turning the Lights on has always inspired an optimism and positivity of which Blackpool is understandably proud.”

Tower boss Kate McShane said: “We will never get another opportunity like this.

“It’s been a fantastic season and we want to end the year on a high.

“The spirit, tenacity, and resilience of people here has really shone through and this is the perfect antidote for the end of 2020.”

 

Organiser’s warning over ‘ticket scams’ for Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2021

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Organisers have warned against potential ticket scams for tonight’s Illuminations Switch On event, urging people without tickets not attempt to purchase any online.

 

Some 1,000 tickets were made available via a ballot for tonight’s Switch On event, which is set to be held in the Tower Ballroom for the first time this year.

But in the run-up to the concert, Switch On organisers Visit Blackpool warned against potential “scammers” who were advertising event tickets for sale online.

It said all ticket winners had already been contacted and e-tickets had been sent out – and “fake profiles” who were using social media to advertise non-existent tickets for sale were being reported.

Organisers have warned against potential ticket scams for tonight's Illuminations Switch On event, urging people without tickets not attempt to purchase any online. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Organisers have warned against potential ticket scams for tonight’s Illuminations Switch On event, urging people without tickets not attempt to purchase any online. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

A spokesman for Visit Blackpool said: “None of the people advertising Switch On ticket sales on our posts or pages actually have them. They are ALL fake profiles which we’re reporting as we see them.

“Don’t hand over money or personal information to scammers. Please protect yourself.”

This year, Dancing queen Shirley Ballas will join the Switch On roll of honour.

Kicking off from 7pm ,a live audience will be welcomed onto the famous dancefloor to watch acts including KSI, Ella Henderson, The Wombats and Wes Nelson perform.

The concert and Switch On moment will once again be broadcast to global audiences with MTV and Visit Blackpool streaming the live event.

When and how will viewers be able to tune in?

Viewers will be able to tune in from home with VisitBlackpool in conjunction with MTV streaming the hour-long concert from 8pm before Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas arrives on stage for the iconic Switch-On moment.

It can be viewed free of charge at visitblackpool.com/switchonyoutube.com/mtvuk and facebook.com/mtvmusicuk .

Ride the Lights 2021: Hundreds of cyclists enjoy sneak peek of Blackpool Illuminations

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

People young and old donned fancy dress and covered their bikes in vibrant fairy lights, lamps and lanterns

 

Hundreds of cyclists took part
Hundreds of cyclists took part

Hundreds of lucky cyclists enjoyed a sneak preview of this year’s Blackpool Illuminations as the annual ‘Ride the Lights’ event returned.

People young and old donned fancy dress and covered their bikes in vibrant fairy lights, lamps and lanterns as they pedalled tonight (August 31) along the Promenade to view the Illuminations from beginning to end.

VisitBlackpool closed off six miles of road to traffic between Starr Gate at South Shore to Red Bank Road in Bispham with participants able to travel as much or little of the route as they wanted.

Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2021: Brit Award nominee and X-Factor’s Ella Henderson plus Liverpool indie band The Wombats complete line-up

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Ella Henderson and Liverpool indie band The Wombats have been announced as the final stars to join the Illuminations Switch On line-up.

 

The acts complete the line-up brought in by Switch On organisers VisitBlackpool and MTV, who have joined forces to bring a host of stars together to kick off one of the resort’s biggest attractions.

The acts will be joining Queen of Latin and multi-winning world dance champion Shirley Ballas, who has competed at in the resort throughout her glittering career and will be the first-ever star in the history of the Lights event to pull the switch in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

The Wombats and Ella will perform on Friday September 3, along with KSI and Wes Nelson, in a concert that will be live-streamed to a global audience.

The Wombats, one of the biggest indie bands of the noughties, launched their music career 15 years ago and have released three top five UK albums since.

Their 2015 hit, Greek Tragedy, has attracted more than 30 million streams following its viral success on TikTok.

The band will also be taking second-to-top billing on the main stage at the Reading and Leeds Festivals later this summer.

Over the past nine years, Ella Henderson has emerged as one of the country’s brightest young music talents. By the age of 25, she had been nominated for two Brit Awards, landed a number one debut album and single, and reached more than a billion streams.

Brit Award nominee Ella Henderson has been announced as one of the latest stars to grace the Tower Ballroom at the Illuminations Switch On event this year. Pic: VisitBlackpoolBrit Award nominee Ella Henderson has been announced as one of the latest stars to grace the Tower Ballroom at the Illuminations Switch On event this year. Pic: VisitBlackpool

Now signed to Rudimental’s label, Major Toms, she continues to be one of the UK’s most in-demand writers and vocalists, and her platinum collaboration This Is Real with Jax Jones was one of last year’s most played songs.

The show will culminate in the switching on of the 2021 Illuminations display by the queen of ballroom, Shirley Ballas, the head judge on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, to trigger the start of an extended four-month display.

This year, the Illuminations Switch On will be hosted by TV and radio presenter Becca Dudley, and will be watched by an audience made up of winners of a free-to-enter ballot.

The show will also be live streamed across MTV and VisitBlackpool channels.

Liverpool band The Wombats have been announced as one of the latest stars to grace the Tower Ballroom at the Illuminations Switch On event this year. Pic VisitBlackpoolLiverpool band The Wombats have been announced as one of the latest stars to grace the Tower Ballroom at the Illuminations Switch On event this year. Pic VisitBlackpool

Last year, the streamed event attracted a global audience of more than a quarter of a million households.

Around 1,500 tickets will initially be available to join the live audience. The ballot has now closed and winners will be informed in the week commencing August 16.

The ticket allocation is being split equally between local residents and visitors.

The live stream will start at 8pm on Friday 3 September and can be viewed free of charge at:

Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2021: It’s Strictly Shirley! Strictly Come Dancing icon Shirley Ballas is ready to bring all the glitter to Blackpool Tower Ballroom as Switch On star

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Strictly Come Dancing icon Shirley Ballas has picked up many honours in Blackpool Tower Ballroom but is to lay claim to her biggest most prestigious title to date as Illuminations Switch On star 2021.

 

The Queen of Latin and multi-winning world dance champion, who has competed at in the resort throughout her glittering career, will be the first-ever star in the history of the Lights event to pull the switch in the world-famous Tower Ballroom.

Shirley, who will join the extensive roll call of famous stars including Robbie Williams, David Tennant, Shirley Bassey Tim Burton and the late Dame Barbara Windsor, has spoken of her joy in scoring the golden call up to light up the Fylde coast.

Guaranteed to bring some sparkle and dance magic to the proceedings, she said: “I have been coming to Blackpool since I was a child and it will always have such a special place in my heart.

“I’m honoured to be asked to turn on the iconic Illuminations this year, I can’t wait.”

But the 60-year-old, originally from Wallasey, Merseyside, who has served as head judge on the BBC’s award-winning entertainment programme Strictly Come Dancing since 2017 won’t be returning to the ballroom with Strictly for its 19th series,

Strictly Come Dancing show bosses have revealed they have been forced to pull the plug again on the series highlight, with competitors missing out on their annual outing to the resort and chance to dance on the famous sprung dancefloor.

The decision has been made to scrap the Blackpool special due to ongoing production constraints against the pandemic.
Queen of Latin Shirley Ballas has served as head judge on Strictly Come Dancing since 2017 picture: BBC PicturesQueen of Latin Shirley Ballas has served as head judge on Strictly Come Dancing since 2017 picture: BBC Pictures

Show executive producer Sarah James said: “We are all so sad that we won’t be able to get to Blackpool this year but can’t wait to be back dancing at the one and only Blackpool Tower Ballroom in the future.”

Organisers have hailed Shirley’s role in this year’s Illuminations concert – hosted by VisitBlackpool and MTV – as ‘very fitting’ given her deep-rooted connections with the resort and her success on the world dance stage.

She is the only person to have ever won the British Open to the World Latin American Championships in Blackpool with two different partners and reached the finals 17 times.

Her titles include three-time ‘British Open to the World’ Latin American Champion, 10-time US Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion.

Strictly Come Dancing star and world dance icon Shirley Ballas gets Blackpool Illuminations bosses vote as first celebrity ever to light up the Fylde Coast in 2021 from the world famous Tower BallroomStrictly Come Dancing star and world dance icon Shirley Ballas gets Blackpool Illuminations bosses vote as first celebrity ever to light up the Fylde Coast in 2021 from the world famous Tower Ballroom

A spokesperson said: “We are thrilled and honoured that Shirley is switching on this year’s Illuminations.

“For the first time in history, the event will take place in the magnificent setting of the Tower Ballroom and given Shirley’s unrivalled success in the world championships in Blackpool we cannot think of a more fitting person to grace our Switch-On stage.”

This year’s Switch On concert will welcome a host of musical talent to the ballroom stage with KSI and Wes Nelson already announced to play in front of a 1500 strong live audience on the evening of Friday September 3.

Free tickets to be a part of the historic event, which will once again be streamed to a global audience, are available through the annual ballot. Applications close on August 2.

More acts are soon to be announced over the coming weeks.

Blackpool’s six miles of Illuminations will run from Friday 3 September to Monday 3 January, 2022.

People can register to enter the ballot for free tickets (maximum of four per person) at www.visitblackpool.com/switchon. The live stream will start at 8pm on Friday 3 September and can be viewed free of charge at: visitblackpool.com/switchon, youtube.com/mtvuk and facebook.com/mtvmusicuk.