History of Blackpool Illuminations

The first illuminations were just a row of eight arc lamps positioned on 60ft poles along the seafront. When the lights were first installed, members of the public branded them as ‘artificial sunshine’.

Many travelled from all around the country just to see them – so you can just imagine what a spectacle they must have been at the time. The introduction of the illuminations was just a year before the electric light bulb was introduced. Homes would have been lit by candles or oil lamps in this period.

blackpool illuminations


Blackpool Illuminations – 1912

The static illuminations which are in operation today were introduced in1912. In May of that year, Princess Louise attended the occasion and officially opened a new section of the promenade. This was in fact, Blackpool’s very first royal visit. As the lights had gained huge popularity, it was clear there was huge potential for the seaside town. The council decided they would re-light the illuminations in September


Blackpool Illuminations – 1914-1925

Due to the outbreak of World War One, the Blackpool illuminations were put on hold for several years. With an eleven-year break, they were re-introduced bigger and better than ever. A huge animated tableau was added to the impressive display. The Blackpool illuminations now stretched an impressive six miles – from Manchester Square to Cocker Square.

The illuminations were put into operation for 31 days. By 1929, all three of the piers were lit up. In the same year, the illuminated Gondola tram was introduced which became a real sensation.

blackpool illuminations


Blackpool Illuminations – 1930s and 1940s

The 1930s was another dark decade in the history of the Blackpool illuminations due to the outbreak of World War Two. The country was in extreme destitution; therefore, the lights weren’t switched back on until 1949 by actress, Anne Neagle.


Blackpool Illuminations – 1950s onwards

Luckily, there have been no other interruptions within the history of the Blackpool Illuminations. Each year since, the display has certainly shown something completely unique and a host of celebrities have pressed that famous switch. Some of the most recognisable names include the likes of George Formby, Gracie Fields, Kermit the Frog and Kenn Dodd.


Blackpool Illuminations – Today

Over the years, the Blackpool Illuminations have become associated with the seaside town. Many from around the country still visit to see the lights switch on which has certainly proved their longevity. Throughout the history of the Blackpool illuminations, the display has got bigger and better each year. The display costs Blackpool around £1.9 million each year to put into action. A huge 65,000 hours are spent on the preparation, with a team of electricians, painters and engineers working together to ensure the light switch on is a success.

In 2007, Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen, best-known for presenting the BBC show Changing Rooms had big ideas for the display. He wished to create a very special feature just outside of the Blackpool Tower named ‘Decodance’. He created this as a tribute to the glamour of the town in times gone by and has consequently become a symbol of the history of the Blackpool illuminations.

The electricity consumption has also reduced by half in recent years, due to the innovation of low voltage lamps and processor controls.

Blackpool Illuminations is one of many things to do. Check out our Blackpool Events 2019.