Have a look at our whistle-stop overview to find out about Blackpool Illuminations. Feel carefree, make memories and go back to your childhood!
We wondered what you’d want to know about Blackpool Illuminations if you’d never ever seen them before? So we’ve put you this overview together, just follow the links to more pages and spend a happy time exploring!
But first, watch this short film of the 2018 Blackpool Illuminations, from our friends at MediaFilms
About Blackpool Illuminations Today
How would you describe the Blackpool Illuminations to someone who’d lived at the North Pole all of their life and didn’t know anything about them?
We’d tell them to come to Blackpool and see for themselves!
You’ll enjoy SIX MILES of the brightest light displays that you can imagine, all along the seafront. Imagine Christmas lights – and then some more, … and some more!
Lights are a big thing in Blackpool, and everywhere lights up. All of the seafront businesses twinkle and the three Piers shine. The beautiful Blackpool Tower is lit from top to bottom in LED lights.
Events During Blackpool Illuminations
Blackpool is an amazing place all through the year, but the Illuminations season adds something amazing! The Lights are managed and produced by Blackpool Council and they’re a 52 weeks of the year project. As soon as the current season ends the maintenance phase begins and of course planning for the next season.
The Illuminations season proper starts with the annual Ride the Lights event. They have to be tested before the big Switch On. Over the years this one night has grown into a massive, car-free preview event.
On the Friday night after August Bank Holiday Monday, the Lights are switched on!
All kinds of events take place throughout the season, there are various sponsored walks, shows, music events and more. Find out what and where from the Visit Fylde Coast events calendar.
October half term is the busiest week of the year in Blackpool. It’s sooo busy! The Lights are on early each evening because the days at at their shortest. And October half term is the time for the amazing Lightpool Festival!! It’s a spectacle of light, performance and fire. Follow the link to find out more about what’s happening this year.
See the Lights on Foot
There’s no doubt about it, walking through the Lights is THE best way to see them!
Feel the cold night air on your face, smell candy floss mixed with fish and chips and hear the noise of the crowd, arcades and attractions. You’ve just got to experience the atmosphere of Blackpool Illuminations season at least once in your life. If you like a happy atmosphere, you’ll love the Lights!
You don’t have to be a super-fit athlete to enjoy your walk through the six miles of display. Break it up into sections and enjoy a bit at a time. That way you can divert off into shops, attractions, the Piers, town centre and whatever takes your fancy.
You could also drive through the Illuminations by car, travel by bus or take the tram.
Blackpool Illuminations from South to North Shore
This is our simple map of the seafront. Use it to orientate yourself to what you’ll find where. If you’re new to the area, the straightest route is left at the end of the M55 and follow the road to the sea. That brings you to the south side of Blackpool seafront, with the sea on your left.
- South Shore is on the left of our map. You’ll see the big tramshed here, against the sea near to Squires Gate Lane, not far from the motorway.
- With the tram sheds on your left you’re not far from the first ‘Welcome Arch’. It marks the start of the Blackpool Illuminations route. There’s a nearby collection point where you donate and contribute to the Illuminations fund.
Festoon lights hang over the road and line the highway along the full promenade. Don’t forget that everything is lit up at night in Blackpool! At South Shore the Pier is one mass of lights, as are the Sandcastle and Pleasure Beach, including the rides! There’s also a couple of tableaux installations opposite the Pleasure Beach.
By car you can drive either way along the promenade
You might remember that in years gone by the traffic followed a one-way route along the prom. Now you just use the roads as normal.
Please be prepared for a long wait at peak times which is usually weekends and October half-term. It can take a long time to cover what is normally a quick journey. Coaches are advised to follow a north to south route.
Take a look at the amazing Illuminated Heritage Trams. Which one is your favourite?
The special tram stop where you catch the Illuminations Tram Tours is opposite the main entrance to the Pleasure Beach. It’s next to the heritage tram which is parked on display.
Head South along the promenade and pass the Pleasure Beach on your right. Sandcastle Waterpark is on your left, with South Pier just to the right hand side of it.
At the right of South Pier with its back to the sea you’ll see Theatre d’Amour. It’s based on a Victorian children’s theatre and is the creation of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.
Lights festoon all of the promenade from south to north, past all three piers and Blackpool Tower, along with features mounted onto lamp posts.
About Blackpool Illuminations Central
The central section of seafront between Central and North Pier is a bright world. Stand with your back to the sea and see all the colours of the seafront shops, attractions and arcades. They’re a brightly coloured sight in their own right.
The Illuminations here are mostly over-the-road displays. Strings of lights are strung between the lampposts from one end of the prom to the other, and extra displays go across the highway at the posts. Extra features are included in themed sections on the lighting columns. Have you seen the Deco Dance ones which were designed by Laurence Llewelyn Bowen?
About Blackpool Illuminations at Blackpool Tower
The Comedy Carpet at Tower Festival Headland is a good spot to head for. There’s a party atmosphere and it’s where special events tend to be focussed. It’s also where you get a great view of the projections onto the front of Blackpool Tower.
Blackpool Tower itself also lights up with thanks to the whopping 25,000 eco friendly LED lights from it’s top to toe. Can you see the people in the windows, right at the top?
Lit up brightly and seen for miles around, it’s a local beacon that lights up the sky and not just through the Illuminations season. It also magically changes colour! At 518 feet tall its 25,000 LEDs make a statement in the night sky. It often pays tribute to various causes through colour.
Gateway to the Town Centre
Don’t forget to go and have a look at Brilliance on Birley Street in the town centre. That’s the street with the huge metal arches over it. The entrance to it is near North Pier, find it against the historic Roberts’ Oyster Rooms.
Brilliance at Birley Street is where the huge metal arches raise above the pedestrianised seating area. They extend the Illuminations into the town centre with a music and light show. In the daytime you’ve probably heard music playing as you walk under the space-age arches. But at night they come to life with a lighting display.
At Talbot Square in front of North Pier and the Town Hall there’s a lovely annual display of Christmas lights. More about that nearer the time!
About Blackpool Illuminations Heading North
The over-the-road lights continue from North Pier along the seafront heading north as far as the end of the display at Bispham.
Not a long way beyond North Pier you’ll reach Gynn roundabout. This local landmark is home to changing features. Over the years it’s been home to spacemen, a fairground carousel, the rocket tram and Dr Who!
Continuing north along the promenade with the sea on your left you’ll come to the huge Illuminations Tableaux.
Alice in Wonderland (above) was transformed for the 2014 season. It’s on display with all of your favourites including Noddy and the Teddy Bears.
These huge displays stand proud on the Cliffs each year. It’s known as the Cliffs because it’s the only steep drop in an otherwise flat Blackpool seafront! You can walk alongside them to Red Bank Road at Bispham.
There’s another Welcome Arch at the end (beginning?) of the Lights at Red Bank Road – after that the street lights return to normal.
Contribute to Blackpool Illuminations
There’s another collection point at Bispham. It marks the beginning, or end, of your journey, and it’s where you can make a donation to the Illuminations fund.
The on-street collection points on the promenade help to contribute towards the cost of new displays. The Illuminations need to be interesting, revitalised and well presented each year.
It’s a free show, but if you’ve enjoyed your time looking at the Lights, please donate at the official Collection Points. The suggested amount is £5 per car or family – that’s excellent value for money!
There are other ways to contribute to the Blackpool Illuminations, you could even see your photo in lights next year! (Or maybe your dog/cat/family…)
Fish and Chips and Fairy Lights
There’s something really magical about walking on foot through the Blackpool Illuminations.
The dark evening air is full of the brightest lights. Pavements are packed with children, parents and grandparents all sharing time together and making memories.
We can’t bottle and describe the feeling of pleasure that you get from a walk along, gazing at the sights. It’s something that we’ve always enjoyed. Read our story here.
You’ll see street sellers all the way along the promenade, selling various light sabres, deely-boppers and twinkly things to trim up your evening.
Please buy your merchandise from one of the official vendors. That way you’re helping to improve the Illuminations.
Here in Blackpool anything goes. If you love all things twinkly, whatever your age, now’s your chance to be a child again!
Are you new to Blackpool and need help with things like where to get something to eat? Or the location of public toilets and car parks?
Don’t expect a quick journey!
As you would imagine, the Blackpool Illuminations attracts millions of visitors a year and on peak days the roads can get congested.
This might be a quick guide to The Blackpool Illuminations, but please expect to drive through the Illuminations quite slowly. It’s all part of the experience and means that your family can take plenty of photos and you can all enjoy your visit.
It’s always best to make sure that you’ve had a toilet stop before you set off. And make sure you’ve eaten and got snacks at hand in the car, as you’ll be in there for a while. The best way to experience the best of the Illuminations season atmosphere is to walk through them on foot.
There’s a number of very large car parks for you to use, close to the main attractions of Blackpool. There’s limited parking along the seafront on the sea side of the promenade – if you’re lucky enough to drop on a space at the busiest time of year! If you prefer, you could park on the outskirts of town and catch a tram or bus along the seafront.
- Have a look at this map of car parks
- Find out more about getting to and around in Blackpool
Danfo operate the Public toilets in Blackpool, as they do elsewhere on the Fylde Coast. Accessed from a single outer door, they’re all single cubicles. The cost is now 30p in coins.
These are all Danfo public toilets:
- Between the Festival House tourist information centre and North Pier – on the lower level of the promenade as you go down to the beach
- Central Car Park – where the coach park facilities are near to Coral Island
- Lonsdale Road Car Park – near to Blackpool Football Club
- Cocker Square – heading north past North Pier on the edge of a small surface car park
- At Gynn roundabout there are toilets on the seaside of the promenade
- Bispham public toilets at the right of the Tram stop
- Much further north nearer to Cleveleys, there are toilets in a Victorian building against the tram lines at Anchorsholme/Little Bispham
- South shore, at the right hand side of the Solaris Building
In addition, there are toilets for shoppers in the town centre at:
- The Houndshill Shopping Centre at the upstairs food court
- At Debenhams, also in the Houndshill
- Marks and Spencer
- Winter Gardens complex
- Coral Island and most of the amusement arcades
- Plus, for daytime visitors, there are public toilets at Stanley Park.
Take your pick! Let’s face it, no visit to the Illuminations is complete without good old seaside fish and chips. Best eaten steaming hot, outside in the fresh air. Don’t forget the Dandelion and Burdock!
You’ll never get any prizes for your diet with anything that you might eat on a night out in the Blackpool Illuminations. Tempting smells from fast food vendors are everywhere that you turn. As they say ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’ so just enjoy your break. Let the calorie counting begin tomorrow.
Have a look at Places to Eat in the area.
Blackpool Illuminations in the Past
The Illuminations stretch back for well over 100 years, back to a time when electricity was a magical, brand new thing.
Take a look through the years as they’ve evolved, changed and grown through the decades. The styles might change according to fashion and celebrity faces but they’re certainly well loved.
How the Blackpool Illuminations Get There
There’s no such thing as a ‘Blackpool Illuminations shop’ that you can pop to and buy a few lights. Everything is bespoke and made right here in Blackpool at the Lightworks depot.
You can take a Lightworks Heritage Tour and see inside the fascinating building where everything is made. The in-house team make everything, and we really mean everything.
Blackpool Council cover the basic annual running costs of maintaining and erecting the Illuminations. But fundraising is vital for their future. Money raised through business sponsorship and promenade donations is all invested into new displays to keep the attraction bright.
You’ll be astonished when you read the facts and figures and find out how many lamps are used and miles of cable.
While you’re here…
You’ll find lots of photos on our Live Blackpool Facebook page why don’t you share yours!
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @visitFyldeCoast