LIGHT FANTASTIC

Well summer has been and gone and September is in full swing!

September brings lots of new starts… Children going into their new school year, little ones starting school for the first time, students embarking on their new University courses, leaving home and starting their life’s adventure and new Autumn series’ of popular TV shows like The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing begin.  For a Lancashire Town known as the ‘Las Vegas of England’ it too is embarking on a new tourist season where more than 3.5 million visitors will descend on this iconic location to view the light spectacular that is Blackpool Illuminations.

I have been to Blackpool Illuminations on many occasions and have many happy memories of leaning out of car windows and peering out of sun roofs to see the dazzling displays of the world-famous northern lights.  My most memorable trip was when I was 11 or 12 when I relentlessly pestered my Grandad and Dad to take me on their annual coach trip to Blackpool; they finally gave in and agreed I could go!  On the morning of the epic journey, my Dad woke me up at 3.30am and we walked down to Norbury (in South London) where we boarded the coach for the 5 hour journey to the North.  As always my Nan had packed an amazing snack box full of treats galore…chocolate, sandwiches, biscuits, crisps, cans of fizzy (if you’re southern) or pop (if you’re from the north) and many more delights!  I munched my way through the box whilst watching the beautiful British countryside pass me by.  When we arrived in Blackpool we did all the usual rituals that we did every year!.. We went to BHS (British Home Stores) for a full English breakfast for 99p!, we bought a postcard and sent it home (although we would get there first before it arrived!) went to the Rock Shop, had an ice cream, walked along the beach and played on the arcades.  We boarded the coach after a fantastic day and we drove down the strip and saw the illuminations. We finally headed home about 10.30pm on the 260 mile ride.  Everything was fine. I fell asleep on the coach but about an hour from home I suddenly awoke feeling very sick and green, much to my Dad and Grandad’s embarrassment (as they hid behind their newspapers!) the kind lady on the seat in front had to lend me her Tesco plastic bag as I had overindulged!!!  Fair to say they never let me go again- it was one of the best but also one of the worst days of my life and I have never lived it down!

Holidaymakers first tripped the ‘lights fantastic’ in Blackpool in 1879, when just 8 arc lamps lit the Promenade in what was described as ‘artificial sunshine’… The event was majorly significant as it was in the same year the first patent for light bulbs was granted in England, and Blackpool was the first town to have electric street lighting. The light generated was equivalent to almost 50,000 candles, and over 70,000 people travelled to Blackpool to watch the experiment. This was at a time when people’s homes were lit by candles and oil, and the streets of their towns depended on gaslight. In May 1912, lights were again erected on Princess Parade to mark Blackpool’s first royal visit – Princess Louise (Daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) officially opened the new section of Promenade. As the lights were impressive and drew a large number of visitors, the council staged them again in September and thousands of people visited the resort.  As they saw the commercial potential the lights were put up again the following autumn. The Blackpool Illuminations spectacular was born and has been an iconic annual British event for visitors to the resort ever since.  (With the exception of a temporary halt to the light show during WWI and WWII).

There are lots of amazing facts about Blackpool Illuminations but here are Kelly’s 5 top facts…

FACT ONE…The Blackpool Illuminations cost approximately £2.4 million to stage

FACT TWO… There are 6 miles of electric lights and light displays using one million lamps in various types and styles.

FACT THREE…Electricity consumed totals 960,000 units, at an approximate cost of £50,000. (Big Electric Bill!)

FACT FOUR…It takes 22 weeks to put the displays and lights up for Blackpool Illuminations and 14 weeks to take them down!

FACT FIVE…Every year since 1934, a famous person has turned on Blackpool Illuminations. Lord Derby (Edward Stanley) was the first in 1934 and most recently in 2012 the switch-on was done by six of Team GB’s Olympians. Over the decades, the Illuminations have been switched on by the cast members of television programmes, comedians, musicians and sportsmen, this year TV chat show host Jonathan Ross flicked the switch.

 This year the Blackpool Illuminations will shine non-stop for 73 nights from 30th August – 10th November the longest light extravaganza ever! Why not take a trip to see this amazing free light show and whether it be to experience the electricity of Blackpool! Take a family holiday or go on a Stag Do or Hen Do why not get a Banana Moon personalised souvenir to remember your trip! You too can come alive with colour and sparkle!

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