Some Interesting Facts About Blackpool Illuminations

The Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2021 is happening tonight, so how about we bring you some interesting facts about them?

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Since they were switched on for the first time on September 18th 1879, the Blackpool Illuminations has become a popular tourist attraction that has extended Blackpool tourism season into the cooler Autumn months.

  • Today. there are over a million light bulbs in the illuminations along the promenade!


  • When the illuminations were first opened in 1879, they consisted of just 8 electric arc lights, but this was amazing at the time as electric lighting was brand new! Thousands of people from all over the country came to Blackpool just to “see the lights” and so the tradition was born.

  • 10,000 lights were used in a display during May 1912 to celebrate the unveiling of a new section of promenade. This was switched on by Princess Louise. The illuminations brought so many tourists to Blackpool that they were switched on for a second time later on that year!


  • The only time that the illuminations haven’t been on display since the first lights were switched on was during the first and second world wars. Once the wars were over, the illuminations were once again switched on and the tradition continued!


  • The illuminations light up 6 miles of Blackpool’s promenade!


  • One of the most unusual switch on guests for the illuminations was a horse! Red Rum, possibly the most famous horse in the world not only switched on the lights in 1977, but he was also hired to open the Steeplechase rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. 1977 was a great year for Red Rum as he also won the Grand National in April that year too.


  • The Blackpool Tower is part of the Blackpool Illuminations and in 2007, a laser was installed. This laser can be seen from 30 miles away! The lights on the tower not only contribute to the illuminations but they are also switched on for the fesrtival of lights in the resort.


  • There have been many times that the illuminations have been included in programs on the TV, and they were even the subject of a Top Gear episode where the presenters attempted to drive from Switzerland to Blackpool using only a single tank of petrol with the challenge of also getting to Blackpool in time to switch the illuminations on.

The illuminations will be switched on this evening by Shirley Ballas of BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing and will run from September 2021 into January 2022.

Last year, Blackpool Council had hoped to extend the Illuminations into January 2021 but those plans were quashed by the tightening of restrictions towards the end of 2020 due to Covid-19.  Let’s hope that the illuminations will continue to help keep Blackpool in the spotlight this winter to help our local businesses to recover from what has been an awful and unforgettable 18 months.