Blackpool Illuminations to light up the way to a 'fabulous' Christmas for resort with holiday bookings looking great for September and October
Light bosses hailed Friday’s celebrity-filled glamorous exhibition ‘ a moment to treasure’ after finally being able to welcome back crowds indoors and outdoors for the start of an extended Illuminations season - the first one ever.
The thrilling display proving it still captures the imagination of locals to holidaymakers to global audiences, who have an affinity with the town billed the ‘entertainment capital of Britain.’
This year, Queen of dance Shirley Ballas, 61 - who also has a lifelong connection with the resort - was bestowed the honour of joining the prestigious list of stars to turn on the Lights.
A VisitBlackpool spokesperson said: “We are thrilled that Shirley was able to grace our Switch-On stage in the magnificent setting of the Tower Ballroom. It is a moment we will all treasure.”
Whilst 1,500 joined in the occasion inside the recently restored ballroom - watchers outside indulged in some sea air and the attractions along the front in anticipation of the Switch On at around 9.15pm.
And social media was flooded with an outpouring of love for the town , following one of its greatest seasons in recent history.
Melanie Smith posted: “Blackpool doesn’t disappoint , they always pull out the stops at this time of the year.”
Many others shared plans for travelling to see the Lights soon , Joanne Mitten said: “The Illuminations and fish and chips on the sea front in the freezing cold, long over due.”
Merlin entertainments boss for the Blackpool cluster Kate McShane said the Switch On event beaming to world wide audiences two years running had given a chance to showcase all the positives and added the extension of the Lights was a real opportunity to plug the Destination Christmas initiative.
“We plan to put on the most spectacular Christmas,’ she said
And Claire Smith from Stay Blackpool said whilst the Staycation revival might have been a ‘one-off year’ the signs were looking good for the end of the year.
She said: “It was an absolutely fabulous Switch On and fabulous way to mark the end of the summer season and all credit to the Council and Visit Blackpool who really have worked hard to help give businesses this chance.
“It’s been chocca since May 19 and looking forwards September and October are much busier for bookings than previous years - the signs are good.
“But we need to be in it for the long game and all do our bit heading to Christmas - time will tell but with the winter destination programme and some of those lovely cold, crisp sunny days - well it would be the icing on the cake.
“The visitors have all said what a good time they’ve had -it’s certainly had a different feel but that noise and laughter around again - it’s been wonderful.”