Posted on: Wednesday 3rd August 2022
It’s less than a month until the greatest free light show on Earth returns to Blackpool! If you’ve never been to see Blackpool Illuminations, it is an amazing spectacle that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. For countless generations, children and adults have visited the Illuminations, to see the Promenade bathed in the light of more than a million magical bulbs.
Starting with the big switch-on of the lights on Friday 2 September, the six miles of amazing light displays will run until Monday 2 January 2023, adding an extra two months to the show and allowing everyone to experience the festoons, larger-than-life tableaux, heritage trams decked out in lights, instagrammable features, laser shows and projections throughout autumn and winter.
Let’s have a look at everything you need to know, such as the 2022 switch-on times, who will be at the switch-on show, fun facts, and some tips for this year’s incredible Illuminations.
Blackpool Illuminations 2022 Switch On!
The Switch On Night, in association with MTV, moved indoors in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but the live streaming of the event proved to be popular, so once again it will be taking place in The Tower Ballroom, but this year with a full-capacity crowd! While the ticket lottery to the event has now closed, it will be live-streamed on MTV and VisitBlackpool channels.
The Illuminations will be switched on this year by legendary comedian Johnny Vegas. Johnny, known for his many TV shows and appearances, such as Benidorm, Shooting Stars, Sunday Brunch, Still Open All Hours, and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, is also the voice of Nigel C Gull, part of the Only In Blackpool TV ad campaign.
Johnny said: “As a northerner through and through, it is a real honour to be asked to switch on the iconic Illuminations. I have a great affection for Blackpool and am really looking forward to the big night in the Tower Ballroom.”
Johnny visited Lightworks, the Blackpool Illuminations Depot, where all the magic happens and is the home of the design, construction, maintenance and storage of all displays, with the Salvage Hunters team in 2021. He performed a mock ‘switch-on’ of the lights in front of Blackpool Tower, which literally moved him to tears!
Now he is preparing to flick the switch for real this time, which will take place at the end of a concert in the Tower Ballroom, which will feature singer-songwriter Tom Grennan and exciting new talent Mae Muller. The show will be headlined by Blue, one of the most successful British bands of the past two decades.
Blue, with its original band members Antony Costa, Duncan James, Lee Ryan and Simon Webbe, will be performing ahead of an arena tour and the release of their new album ‘Heart & Soul’, due to be released on 9 September.
How much do you know about Blackpool Illuminations?
Let’s have a look at some interesting and illuminating facts!
- Blackpool was the first town to have electric street lighting installed, which brought visitors from far and wide to marvel at the eight arc lamps that bathed the Promenade in light in 1879. However, when the tide came in, water leaking onto the cast iron pipes stopped the lights from working! Thankfully, technology has progressed since!
- The first instance of a light show akin to what we see today was in May 1912, to mark the visit of Princess Louise to Blackpool. The display proved to be so popular, that the public petitioned the council to stage the lights again in September, which became the Illuminations we know today.
- The Illuminations have run every year since, except from 1939 until 1949, due to the outbreak of World War II and post-war austerity.
- Most of the displays are made from wood, fibreglass, settle and aluminium, and the use of LEDs, lasers and video projections have added extra dimensions to the displays in recent years.
- There are over one million lamps of varying size and shape in the Illuminations, over 100 miles of festoon strung between the promenade poles., and 200 miles of cable and wiring for the lights. The total weight of the illuminations is over 711,000 kilograms, which is more than 350 Blackpool trams!
- It takes Illuminations personnel around 65,000 staff hours on maintenance, preparation, installation, operation, and the dismantling of all 500 designs, displays and lights. There is a team of twenty people, including talented artists, electricians, joiners, mechanics, painters, engineers and technicians, who work all year round to ensure the displays are ready.
- The Illuminations uses 960,000 units of electricity, at a cost of around £50,000, but the use of modern LED lighting means that the cost has been reduced by two-thirds over the past ten years. It costs over £2 million to stage the free light show every year.
- Over 3.5 million people come to visit the Illuminations every year, who spend more than £250 million in Blackpool. That’s a lot of fish and chips, ice cream and Blackpool rock!
- Ex-displays have been sold to collectors all around the world and brought the magic of Blackpool to Barcelona, and even to Jeddah, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
- Blackpool Illuminations is the greatest free light show on earth, but you can find donation boxes at the start and end of the route, which help to fund new displays and keep the amazing light show free for everyone to see!
What’s the best way to see the Illuminations?
Come mid-week and beat the rush!
Weekends, particularly Saturday nights are the busiest times for the Illuminations, so a mid-week visit is best to beat the long queues. If you can only visit at weekends, a good tip is to travel from north to south, which typically sees less traffic.
In any case, make sure you have plenty of snacks and refreshments with you and don’t forget to visit the loo before you set off!
Take a stroll along the promenade
The best way to avoid long traffic queues is to take a stroll along through the lights. Park the car, pop into Coral Island for food and drink, or for fish and chips to eat while you walk, and enjoy the illuminations without the hassle of driving.
If you don’t want to be walking for miles, then it might be an idea to just go and see the tableaux section at the north end of the Illuminations, often called the ‘big pictures’, a nostalgic walk-through of some family favourites, such as the Haunted Hotel, Hickory Dickory Dock and the Teddy Bears Picnic, the oldest illumination still on display.
Take the Tram!
You will need to book well in advance, but exploring the illuminations by hopping on an illuminated tram is a great way to explore the lights. They depart from the Pleasure Beach and go all the way to Bispham, and you can hop off at several points on your return journey, maybe to grab a bite to eat at Coral Island, where kids eat free with every paid adult meal, or simply to make use of the free toilets before you head home!
Ride The Lights
On 30 August, the road all along the illuminations will be closed as the annual Ride the Lights event takes place - a fabulous free family and traffic-free event and way to explore the lights. Grab your push bikes, or take a walk for a rare opportunity to enjoy a preview of the Illuminations between 6 pm and 10 pm.
Whether you want to spend the day in Blackpool and top it off with the incredible Illuminations, or plan to come in the evening for the greatest free light show on the planet, we can’t wait to see you all, so don’t forget to pop into Coral Island, the greatest free admission attraction in Blackpool!