Blackpool Illuminations launch with a bang ahead of switch on on Friday Spetember 1

The Blackpool Gazette got a sneak peak at the two dazzling new tableaux which will light up Blackpool seafront as part of the 2023 Blackpool illuminatons.
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Two dazzling new tableaux will light up Blackpool seafront this autumn.

It was revealed today (August 10) that internationally-renowned artists Dr Chila Kumari Singh Burman, MBE, and Bruce Alfred have designed two spectacular installations for the 2023 Illuminations display.

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The tableaux will be unveiled to the public when the Illuminations are launched on Friday 1 September for a four-month season. Both have been built by the Illuminations’ in-house team based at the Lightworks manufacturing facility in Blackpool.

Merseyside-born Burman is celebrated around the world and has produced numerous high-profile works including installations for the Tate Gallery and Covent Garden in London, as well as special commissions for film companies, including Netflix. 

Two years ago, she produced an installation called “Blackpool, Light Of My Life” on the front of Blackpool’s Grundy Art Gallery and vowed to return to design something of scale in the world-famous Illuminations.

Lollies in Love With Light”  Tableau as part of Blackpool Illuminations 2023Lollies in Love With Light”  Tableau as part of Blackpool Illuminations 2023
Lollies in Love With Light” Tableau as part of Blackpool Illuminations 2023

The result is a 26 metre-wide animated tableau entitled “Lollies In Love With Light”, a stunning, kaleidoscopic celebration of Blackpool incorporating around 760 metres of LED neon lighting, with a technicolour ice cream van at its centre. It is inspired by her parents who ran an ice cream business.

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Canadian-born Bruce Alfred specialises in Native American art and has created an evocative design featuring hand-drawn images of eagles and Orca whales. It is the first Illuminations display to be designed by a North American artist and one of the first to be developed using 3D printing technology.

Light Around The World Tableau part of Blackpool illuminatiosn 2023Light Around The World Tableau part of Blackpool illuminatiosn 2023
Light Around The World Tableau part of Blackpool illuminatiosn 2023

The tableau, which incorporates more than 13,000 programmable LED lamps is intended to be the first of a new series of tableaux entitled “Light Around The World” that will celebrate international cultures. 

The 2023 display will also include a new-look Spitfire Island - a large-scale installation developed in collaboration with designer and Illuminations curator, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. This installation has also been created using 3D printing technology. It features replicas of three Spitfires - Progress I, II and III -  all funded by Blackpool residents during World War Two. The installation is sponsored by world-renowned model kit company, Airfix. 

Spitfire Island part of Blackpool illuminations 2023Spitfire Island part of Blackpool illuminations 2023
Spitfire Island part of Blackpool illuminations 2023

Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “These new works show the sheer scale of ambition as we continue to reinvent one of the UK’s most enduring tourist attractions.

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 “With the help of Government and Arts Council funding, coupled with the introduction of new manufacturing and design techniques, we are cementing Blackpool’s status as a world leader in illumination.

“The new installations for 2023 are truly stunning and will bring a completely new dimension to the traditional tableaux section on the Promenade.

Jen Cleary, Director North, Arts Council England: “Our investment supports Blackpool Illuminations to develop and deliver an extensive talent development programme for artists and creatives as well as commission, in collaboration with Lightpool Festival, nationally and internationally recognised artists who work with light. It is exciting news that new installations are being designed by renowned artists Dr Chila Kumari Singh Burman, who is making a return to Blackpool, and Bruce Alfred. I’m looking forward to seeing these works unveiled when the Illuminations launch on 1 September.”

Dr Chila Kumari Singh Burman said: "This is a dream come true. I visited the Illuminations from the age of five every year with my mum and dad, siblings and family from Punjab.

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"This is my childhood gone full circle and I can’t believe it is happening! My late mum and dad would have been over the moon to see their ice cream van on a Blackpool Illuminations tableau!" 

Other new features lined up for the 2023 display include:

Iconic Blackpool

Take a trip down Memory Lane through the new section of Illuminations, Iconic Blackpool. Featuring a selection of posters dating back to the 1920s, this section is an ode to Blackpool's rich heritage. From timeless Illuminations displays to the iconic landmarks that have graced the promenade for generations, the tourism posters have been carefully selected to transport visitors back to a bygone era. 

Iconic Blackpool as partof Blackpool illuminations 2023Iconic Blackpool as partof Blackpool illuminations 2023
Iconic Blackpool as partof Blackpool illuminations 2023

Golden Mile Remixed!

Last year, a brand new Art Deco-inspired section, created by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, was a record-breaking first for the Illuminations as this area marked one of the largest roadway sections ever built and the first step change in the new-look display. For this season, it has been seamlessly linked with the iconic Blackpool Tower to create a synchronised symphony of light. 

Blackpool, Hollywood-Style

Thanks to the ingenious Illuminations team, visitors can capture their Illuminations experience in front of a dazzling Hollywood-inspired Blackpool sign. Utilising Cabochon lamps, the installation spans almost nine metres in length and will be situated in front of The Blackpool Tower, providing the ultimate selfie opportunity.

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Spiro Light Tunnel                                                                                       Spiro is an immersive walk-through tunnel of light spanning 26 metres in length. Back by popular demand, the illuminated tunnel comprises individually-mapped LEDs that allow beautiful intricate patterns. It will return to the Promenade for the full Illuminations season with brand new lighting. 

In addition to Airfix, sponsors and partners in this year’s display include Beaverbrooks, Affinity Lancashire, Partingtons, City Fibre, Coral Island and Northern.

The Illuminations Switch-On

Blackpool Illuminations on the Golden Mile (picture from VisitBlackpool)Blackpool Illuminations on the Golden Mile (picture from VisitBlackpool)
Blackpool Illuminations on the Golden Mile (picture from VisitBlackpool)

The Illuminations Switch-On party is the biggest, brightest night in Blackpool’s calendar, and this year's celebration on September 1 promises to deliver an experience Blackpool has never seen before. The best part? It's back outdoors and free for everyone to attend!

Look forward to a spectacular parade, free family entertainment on the Tower Festival Headland, the exciting Switch-On moment, an illuminating Tower light show and fireworks over the seafront.

Nickelodeon Parade

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Join us for The Nickelodeon Grand Parade - a spectacular procession along the Golden Mile, showcasing the beloved characters from the world's most popular children's TV channel.The celebrations will kick off with a vibrant and lively float parade, featuring larger-than-life versions of your favourite characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants and friends, PAW PatrolBaby SharkTransformers, and Monsters High. They will be joined by around 100 dancers, musicians and street performers as they make their way from Central Pier to the Tower Festival Headland for a free family party.Among the performers in the grand parade will be Lancashire’s own 2nd Rossendale Scout Group Band, a hugely talented group of young musicians who have performed all over the UK, including an appearance at Windsor Castle in front of the Queen.

Nickelodeon Parade Paw Patrol to visit BlackpoolNickelodeon Parade Paw Patrol to visit Blackpool
Nickelodeon Parade Paw Patrol to visit Blackpool

Free entertainment, light show and fireworks

That’s not all! The celebration will continue with a free family party with live music and family entertainment, leading up to a grand finale with the iconic celebrity Switch-On moment. Get ready for even more celebrations to follow when The Blackpool Tower bursts into life with a specially-commissioned sound and light show that will be synchronised with LED wristbands to be given out to spectators, topped off with a fireworks finale over the seafront.The whole event will be free to access with no tickets required.The identity of who will switch on this year’s Illuminations will be revealed in the coming weeks. The Switch-On ceremony marks the start of the annual Illuminations display, which will shine nightly from September 1, 2023, to January 1, 2024.What time is the event?

The build-up will commence from 7pm, with the float parade scheduled to start around 7.30pm. The main celebrations on the Tower Festival Headland will take place between approximately 8pm and 9.30pm.

Do I need tickets?

No, not this year. The whole event will be free to access with no tickets required. Just rock up early and take your place along the stretch of promenade to enjoy the show.

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Who is switching on the Lights?It's top secret for now! The identity of this year’s Switch-On star will be announced in the coming weeks.Full details of the 2023 display can be viewed here: www.visitblackpool.com/illuminations