The Top Ten Blackpool Illuminations Switch On’s

The first Blackpool Illuminations appear in 1879 when 8 large electric arc lights were switched on and lit the promenade. The switching on drew thousands of people to Blackpool “to see the lights.”  Today, over one million bulbs are used in the creation and vision.

Every year since 1934, a famous person (and a horse!) has ‘turned on the lights’ at the Blackpool Illuminations Switch On. Lord Derby (Edward Stanley) was the first in 1934 – except for World War II – we take a look at our ‘Top Ten’ through the years!

If you’re planing to visit Blackpool then take a look at our Things To Do in Blackpool recommendations.

(Main image courtesy of: VisitBlackpool)


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: Twentieth Century Fox / Blackpool Evening Gazette

Tim Burton (Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2015)


Tim Burton famous for a wide selection of films including the ‘Blackpool featured’ Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.

Tim Burton, most famously the director of Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, told local newspaper The Gazette: “Blackpool wasn’t in the script but it felt part of the vibe of the film so we wrote it in.

“The novel spoke to me with a certain mystery and that’s why we put Blackpool into it.”


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: Martin Bostock / Evening Gazette

Alan Carr (Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2010)


2010 saw the ‘Switch On’ by Comedian and TV presenter Alan Carr. While here for the big ‘Switch On’ Alan hosted his radio show from the top deck of one of Blackpool’s famous trams. Alan is famous for his hugely popular Channel 4 chat show ‘Chatty Man‘.

Most recently Alan Carr married his long-term boyfriend Paul Drayton in Los Angeles. The 41-year-old’s publicist confirmed the couple had tied the knot at a “small, private ceremony” at singer Adele’s home. It later came out the singer not only ordained and married the happy couple, but she performed and footed the bill – what a mate!

Alan has a strong link to Blackpool, his father was the Manager of Blackpool Football Club.


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: Martin Bostock /Blackpool Evening Gazette (The Top Gear team. The Stig, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson.)

Top Gear – The Stig with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond (Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2008)


2008 saw an incredible TV and Blackpool Illumination Switch On First!

The lights were actually swithch on by The Stig when the ‘tame racing driver’ stepped in front of presenters Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond to pull the lever and turn on the resort’s famous Illuminations.

The cast of Top Gear staged one of their incredible races and this time it was to Blackpool to see who would switch on the famous lights!


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: Blackpool Evening Gazette (David Tennant / Doctor Who)

Dr Who? David Tennant (Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2007)


David Tennant  the Scottish actor is probably best known for his roles as the ‘Tenth’ Doctor in the television series Doctor Who. However Tennent has made a huge mark in the quality television drama world following his roles as Alec Hardy in Broadchurch, Giacomo Casanova in the TV serial Casanova, Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, in addition to Barty Crouch, Jr. in the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

The Dr Who section of the Blackpool Illuminations is infamous with a full sized Tardis and 7ft high Daleks!


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: Blackpool Evening Gazette (Shirley Bassey)

Shirley Bassey (Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 1994)


Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey, DBE is a Welsh singer whose career began in the mid-1950s, best known both for her powerful voice and for recording the theme songs to the James Bond films Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker (1979).

Other famous musically talented starts to have flicked the switch include; Lisa Stansfield in 1992, Status Quo (1993), Bee Gees (1995), Chris De Burgh (1998), Gary Barlow (1999), Westlife (2000), Steps (2001), Ronan Keating (2002), Blue (2003) and Robbie Williams (2010).


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: Blackpool Evening Gazette (Doris Speed/Annie Walker)

Coronation Street – Doris Speed (Annie Walker) (Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 1983)


Coronation Street’s landlady Annie Walker, played by actress Doris Speed pulled a beer pump to set off rockets which signaled the switch-on of Blackpool’s 1 million 1983 illuminations. Other members of the cast, included; Chris Quinten, Helen Worth, Veronica Doran, Lynn Perrie, Jack Howarth, Bryan Mosley, Bill Roache, Fred Feast, Johnny Briggs and Liz Dawn.


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: Blackpool Evening Gazette (The Muppets)

Kermit the Frog – The Muppets (Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 1979)


The Gazette headline was “Muppets and Miss UK in monster mayhem”. Talbot Square crowds rolled with laughter when things got terribly out of hand during the 1979 Illuminations switch-on when Kermit the Frog and Friends including Gonzo brought the magical experience to Blackpool.


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: Blackpool Evening Gazette (Red Rum)

Red Rum – The ‘Treble’ Grand National Winner (Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 1977)


Red Rum was a champion Thoroughbred (steeplechaser). Achieving an unmatched historic ‘treble’ winning the Grand National in 1973, 74 and 77, (coming second in 75 and 176). Red Rum was renowned for his jumping ability, not falling in an incredible 100 races.

Red Rum appeared at the Blackpool Illuminations Switch On following his  ‘treble’ winning of the Grand National in 1977.


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: Blackpool Evening Gazette (George Formby)

Goerge Formby (Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 1953)


George Formby OBE, was an English actor, singer-songwriter and comedian who became known to a worldwide audience through his films of the 1930s and 1940s. On stage, screen and record he sang light, comical songs, usually playing the ukulele or banjolele, and became the UK’s highest-paid entertainer.

George Forby ‘Blackpool Rock‘.


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: Blackpool Evening Gazette – Lost Archives – Prince George, the Duke of Kent. Second from left is Lord Derby, far right is the Town Clerk Mr Trevor T Jones and second from right is the Mayor, Ald W S Ashton JP. (Glass Plate Negative))

Prince George, His Royal Highness Duke of Kent (Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 1937)


In 1937, HRH Prince George, came to perform the Blackpool Illumination Switch On. Prince George was the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary.

He was the younger brother of Edward VIII and George VI. He held the title of Duke of Kent from 1934 until his death in a military air-crash on 25 August 1942. His death while in the service of the RAF marked the first time in more than 450 years that a member of the royal family died on active service.


Blackpool Illuminations Switch On

Pic courtesy of: VisitBlackpool (Alfie Boe)

Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2018…


Actor and international singing star Alfie Boe, who was born in Blackpool, will pull the switch for 2018 and trigger the start of the Illuminations season. The final line-up is now confirmed with performances by Ella Eyre, Jonas Blue, Diversity and DVJ, Rae Morris, HRVY, and Club MTV DJs R3Wire and Varksi.

Following the Blackpool Illuminations Switch On, on the Saturday Britney Spears will be performing her Piece of Me tour. Grab your tickets here from ticketmaster.

New for this year, is the Switch-On Golden Circle where a limited number of people will be able to get a close-up view of the show in an exclusive Golden Circle section on the Tower Festival Headland Arena. Tickets for the enclosure, which will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, are available at £10 each. To purchase, click here.

Find out all you need to know and more at VisitBlackpool’s – Blackpool Illuminations and Lightpool.

If you’re visiting Blackpool a trip wouldn’t be complete without taking in a show at the the iconic Blackpool Grand Theatre, from Blackpool’s top family shows to comedians and music you have so much choice.

Blackpool Has It All… and  The Grand offers great entertainment all year round!

To see whats on click Blackpool Grand Theatre What’s On.