The Queen of Latin and multi-winning world dance champion, who has competed at in the resort throughout her glittering career, will be the first-ever star in the history of the Lights event to pull the switch in the world-famous Tower Ballroom.
Shirley, who will join the extensive roll call of famous stars including Robbie Williams, David Tennant, Shirley Bassey Tim Burton and the late Dame Barbara Windsor, has spoken of her joy in scoring the golden call up to light up the Fylde coast.
Guaranteed to bring some sparkle and dance magic to the proceedings, she said: “I have been coming to Blackpool since I was a child and it will always have such a special place in my heart.
“I’m honoured to be asked to turn on the iconic Illuminations this year, I can’t wait.”
But the 60-year-old, originally from Wallasey, Merseyside, who has served as head judge on the BBC’s award-winning entertainment programme Strictly Come Dancing since 2017 won’t be returning to the ballroom with Strictly for its 19th series,
Strictly Come Dancing show bosses have revealed they have been forced to pull the plug again on the series highlight, with competitors missing out on their annual outing to the resort and chance to dance on the famous sprung dancefloor.
The decision has been made to scrap the Blackpool special due to ongoing production constraints against the pandemic.
Show executive producer Sarah James said: “We are all so sad that we won’t be able to get to Blackpool this year but can’t wait to be back dancing at the one and only Blackpool Tower Ballroom in the future.”
Organisers have hailed Shirley’s role in this year’s Illuminations concert - hosted by VisitBlackpool and MTV - as ‘very fitting’ given her deep-rooted connections with the resort and her success on the world dance stage.
She is the only person to have ever won the British Open to the World Latin American Championships in Blackpool with two different partners and reached the finals 17 times.
Her titles include three-time ‘British Open to the World’ Latin American Champion, 10-time US Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion.
A spokesperson said: “We are thrilled and honoured that Shirley is switching on this year’s Illuminations.
“For the first time in history, the event will take place in the magnificent setting of the Tower Ballroom and given Shirley’s unrivalled success in the world championships in Blackpool we cannot think of a more fitting person to grace our Switch-On stage.”
This year’s Switch On concert will welcome a host of musical talent to the ballroom stage with KSI and Wes Nelson already announced to play in front of a 1500 strong live audience on the evening of Friday September 3.
Free tickets to be a part of the historic event, which will once again be streamed to a global audience, are available through the annual ballot. Applications close on August 2.
More acts are soon to be announced over the coming weeks.
Blackpool’s six miles of Illuminations will run from Friday 3 September to Monday 3 January, 2022.