Blackpool Illuminations – shining a light on Britain!
Celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, Blackpool Illuminations are an annual celebration of light, design and creativity that have been inspiring travellers to visit the north west since 1879!
Running from 30 August to 3 November 2019, this year the northern seaside town is set to welcome 20,000 people for the official Switch-On party which will feature numerous light-themed delights, from illuminated see-saws to giant representations of the sun and earth. Boasting a ten-kilometre stretch of light displays along the promenade, comprised of an estimated one million light bulbs, the displays transform the historic town into an illuminated wonderland.
But it doesn’t end there. Blackpool will also host a range of exciting light-themed events at the annual Lightpool Festival, while numerous other locations in Britain are taking the chance to light up and celebrate. Discover our round up below and get ready to watch Britain get lit!
Ride the Lights
Blackpool promenade will be closed to all but bike riders on 27 August 2019 for the annual Ride the Lights event. Visitors and locals can ride their bikes carefree along the famous seaside strip, and get a first-look at the illuminations ahead of the official switch-on event. Held each year since 2006, this ten-kilometre ride is free for all to attend.
When? 27 August 2019
The switch-on party
The Switch-On Party on Blackpool’s Promenade will kick off the celebrations with a bang – live music and dance performances will add to the build up to the official switching on of the illuminations themselves.
The opening ceremony on 30 August will host acts including singer Nina Nesbitt, drum and bass DJs SIGMA and dance troupe, Diversity. Adding to the party atmosphere will be MTV DJs R3WIRE & VARSKI, while the headlining act will be the much-loved British pop band, Busted.
The climax of the evening will be the switching on of the illuminations, with the switch set to be flipped by Blackpoolian Lucy Fallon, best known for her role as Bethany Platt in TV’s Coronation Street.
Although the free wristband ballot has closed, VIP tickets are available to purchase for guaranteed entry. Included in the cost is marquee access, a picnic bag, ice cream, welcome drink and an invite to the official after party. VIP tickets cost £73 for adults and £37.50 for children.
When? 30 August 2019, starting at 4pm - 10.30pm
Lightpool Festival 2019
Back for another year of illuminated free events, Lightpool Festival 2019 will include live performances and art installations for two weeks over the October half term. Offering a mix of light-inspired events, including a Carnival of Lights, SUN, Gaia, Pyronix and light-up see-saws, to name but a few.
Visitors can check out Gaia, a seven-metre spherical representation of the earth, created from detailed photography from NASA. The work of artist Luke Jerram, Gaia will be showing in Blackpool Tower Ballroom during the Lightpool Festival and features a bespoke soundtrack composed by BAFTA award-winning composer Dan Jones. There will also be a dedicated dance event held in the ballroom below this installation on 17 October.
When? 11-26 October 2019, free
Artsy animal fans wanting to get creative need look no further than Lumidogs! Held over two days, the fun workshops gives dog lovers the chance to make a light-up costume for their favourite furry companions, with the best dressed dog winning a prize during the grand finale! Afterwards, take to the streets during a mass dog walk, which will see the pampered pooches illuminating the town in their new get ups.
When? 12-13 October, free
From 14-26 October 2019 Blackpool’s Olympia Winter Gardens will be home to SUN, a new art installation by Alex Rinster. Made from NASA projections of the sun’s surface, the seven-metre spherical representation promises to be an immersive experience.
When? 14-26 October 2019, free
Late at the Library
Blackpool Central Library will open late and dim its lights, as they invite visitors to enjoy an atmospheric evening of illuminated entertainment. Late at the Library will include unique inside lighting coupled with workshops for children, atmospheric readings, local art, close-up magic and archive footage from the town’s early Illuminations.
When? 18 October, free
With built-in motion detectors, Blackpool’s town centre will welcome eight giant seesaws, which light-up and play music when used. Shipped from Canada, Wavefield is a unique playground experience which can be enjoyed in St John’s Square.
When? 23-26 of October, free
Carnival of the Lights
The Carnival of the Lights will come to Blackpool Promenade with a procession of three fully illuminated trams, a convoy that highlights the town’s historic collection of tramcars. This year will see the vehicles decorated to represent a battleship, a fishing boat and a Great Western train. The East Midlands Caribbean Carnival Arts Network, a troupe of illuminated dancers and performers, will also join the procession.
When? 24 October 2019, 4-7.30 pm. Free
Belgian performance group Pyronix are bringing an exclusive performance of their hit show Ignipotens to the UK especially for the LightPool festival. Combining intense choreography based around and interacting with fire, the show will include elements of martial arts and acrobatics and will be performed opposite the Blackpool Tower.
When? 26 October 2019, 7pm. Free
Other light festivals in Britain
Lumiere Light Festival, Durham
Celebrating 10 years of transforming buildings, outdoor spaces and famous architecture in Britain through creative light displays, Lumiere Light Festival is the UK’s largest light festival. Having been enjoyed by 240,000 people in 2017, this year it will return to Durham, the city that hosted the festival’s first transformative event. By inviting artists from around the world to create installations through light and projections, Lumiere aims to give visitors the chance to see British cities in a new and inspiring light.
For 2019, Lumiere asked the people of north-east England to submit their ideas for new light installations and selected four winners: environmental artist Diane Watson, furniture design company director Lucy McDonnell, artist Penelope Payne, and Durham County Council worker Mike Donaghy. They are currently producing their work in preparation for the autumn display.
When? 14 – 17 November 2019, free
Longleat Light Festival, Wiltshire
Boasting the biggest lantern festival in Britain, Longleat Light Festival brings together hundreds of illuminated lanterns across a stunning 30-acre landscape. Welcoming a ‘myths and legends’ theme for 2019, Longleat will take inspiration from the ancient Greek gods, British folklore and mythical sea monsters, in addition to the traditional silk lantern event.
The perfect way to brighten up an autumn evening, entry to this event is included in the price of a day ticket - save up to 10% by booking online.
When? 9 November 2019 - 5 January 2020
Matlock Bath Illuminations, Derbyshire
For eight weeks of the year, the River Derwent in the Derbyshire town of Matlock welcomes a procession of amazing floating illuminations. Matlock Bath Illuminations sees the Matlock Bath Venetian Boat Builders Association decorate a selection of models with brightly coloured lights. With a new theme each year, the creative displays travel along the river, past the crowds on the riverside.
Tickets cost £8 on Saturdays (£7 concessions) and £7 on Sundays (£6 concessions) on the night, but can be bought online at a discounted price.
To mark the end of the festival, a fireworks display can be seen in the town on 27 October at 9pm, which is priced separately.
When? 7 September - 27 October 2019
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