Celebrating the 2012 Blackpool Illuminations Centenary in style, with new features and restored favourites.

(This page was originally published in the late spring of 2012, to mark the new illuminations for 2012).

Blackpool looks forward to autumn nights bathed in light and colour as it prepares to celebrate it’s Centenary Year!

It may be a hundred years old, but Blackpool Illuminations always moves with the times, embracing new technology and artists to bring fresh and contemporary lightshows to audiences old and new.

Four amazing new tableaux from the spray cans of four urban street artists combined with the unparalleled lighting skills of the Illuminations team to produce a brand new feature entitled 4×4 Street to Shore. Inkie, Lonac, My Dog Sighs and Rocket 01 are all very well known in the urban art world – Inkie even worked with spray can legend Banksy.

2012 also saw the return of the well-loved Rocket Tram as the centerpiece of the traffic island at Gynn Square with a huge astronaut from 1970 floating above it.

Richard Ryan and the Haunted House. Returning with new illuminations for 2012
Richard Ryan and the Haunted House. Returning with new illuminations for 2012

Richard Ryan, Illuminations Manager, said: ”It’s all about looking to the future but also remembering our past. So many people love the Illuminations and we always get requests to bring back the most loved features. We make sure we look after those while looking to the future at the same time.

“It’s so important that we offer opportunities for engagement as well as wonder, art, family fun and Great British humour. We want people to find something they love and go away feeling better than when they arrived.”

Natalie Wyatt, then Managing Director of Marketing Blackpool, added: “There are some fantastic and memorable celebrations in the UK in 2012 with the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. At the end of August we’re determined to mark the centenary of the great British institution of the Blackpool Illuminations in style.”

New Switch On Place for New Illuminations for 2012

The 2012 Blackpool Illuminations Centenary Switch On Ceremony, on Friday 31 August, took place for the very first time on Blackpool’s brand new Festival Headland beneath the world famous Tower.

20,000 spectators watched the spectacular concert. Unlike previous years, when the Switch On took place on the Central Car Park, crowds this time will be able to see the lights spring to life all along the promenade as the switch is flipped by a celebrity guest.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, creative curator and designer of new illuminations for 2012
Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, creative curator and designer of new illuminations for 2012

For the 2012 Blackpool Illuminations Centenary there was a move towards making locals and visitors feel more involved with the largest outdoor art gallery in the world. Art projects have been designed to involve the community in the creation of the lights and to provide interactive experiences for visitors.

A corridor of lights will lead pedestrian visitors from the Promenade to enjoy the brilliant Brilliance sound and light show on Birley Street. A giant interactive sign, designed by nine young people working alongside artist Laurence Payout, will suggest actions and movements for its audience outside North Pier.

The community are also being involved in the creation of other features, with children designing the picture of the Queen in a Jubilee Tram; local people working with Dead Good Poets to find and narrate the town’s ghost stories as part of a Haunted Blackpool exhibit and others working with artist Jo Berry to design five new pylons inspired by some of the space age Illuminations of the 1930’s.

There will also be a shiny new 2012 Blackpool Illuminations Centenary logo, designed by Creative Curator Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, who is also creating a ‘Diamonds are a Queen’s Best Friend’ themed Jubilee tableau. Professor Vanessa Toulmin, author of books on Blackpool’s Tower, Pleasure Beach and Winter Gardens, will produce a new book to mark the occasion and the town even launched a Friends of Blackpool Illuminations group.

The magical Blackpool Illuminations kept the resort aglow for 66 nights from Friday 31 August to Sunday 4 November 2012.


NEW Illuminations for 2012

4 x 4 Street to Shore Street Art Project
Four amazing tableaux from the spray cans of four world famous urban street artists are new illuminations for 2012. To be situated on the cliffs at the northern end of the display.

Fluted pylons
Artist Jo Berry will be working with the Blackpool council Arts Service and local people to reinterpret a heritage illumination – the space age 1930’s fluted pylons. Jo will be working with community groups across Blackpool to work on a series of light boxes using similar techniques to create the new Illumination piece. There will be five pylons situated around Princess Walk.

Diamond Jubilee Tram
Children from local schools and inmates at Kirkham prison are working to create a static tram exhibit on the promenade which will feature key moments from the Queen’s 60 year reign in its windows.

Diamond Jubilee Tableau
Flamboyant designer Laurence Llewelyn Bowen will once again join the Illuminations team to create a stunning tableau featuring the Queen and the Union Flag all wrapped up in the theme of ‘Diamonds are a queen’s best friend’. The tableau is to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee year.

Under the Town
Nine young people (13-19) from across Blackpool have been involved in a project to create a new Illuminations feature. They selected and commissioned Liverpool-based artist, Laurence Payot to work with them on the design and ideas for the piece, an interactive sign that suggests actions, and movements for its audience. The illumination, to be revealed at a one-day festival on August 4 in the Grundy Art Gallery, will find its home in front of North Pier.

Haunted Blackpool
Working with the Council Arts Service and Dead Good Poets to refresh local urban myths, legends and ghost stories to be featured in Illuminations 2012. Dead Good Poets will work with members of the community tease out tales to be made into a series of short poems and stories. The participants will then be filmed telling their story or poem which will be project onto a cargo / crypt installation.

Rocket tram
Generations of families enjoyed riding and watching the tram that looked like a giant rocket. But it’s been over 10 years since it was last seen on Blackpool’s streets. The retro feature, and its 3500 lamps, will return as new illuminations for 2012 as the main attraction on Gynn Island. A massive astronaut, from the 1970 Illuminations, will hang above it, connected by an umbilical cord.

Find out more about Illuminated Heritage Trams

Rocket tram refurbished for 2012 Blackpool Illuminations

Centenary Heads
Following the popular 2011 pop-art local heads section, the new Centenary Heads will feature on the cliffs at the north end of the display. Have your own face up in lights, or buy one as a unique gift so a loved one, or even a pet, can feature in the world-famous Illuminations. Heads were £100+VAT – get them before they’re gone!

You can still buy Headlights, more info here

Believe in Blackpool
A tableau on the cliffs will celebrate Blackpool’s many different faiths and shine out as a symbol of friendship and diversity.

Leaded Lights
Look for the brand new leaded lights lozenges featuring butterflies, dragonflies, fish, peacocks and more. Believe it or not were once part of the Doctor Who section – the Illuminations team believes strongly in the ethos of reduce, reuse, recycle.

Updating Cherished Features

Haunted House
The Haunted House tableau is undergoing an amazing revamp and will feature singing lights along with Halloween favourite tunes including The Monster Mash, Thriller and There’s a Ghost in my House.

Teddy Bear’s Picnic
Kids’ favourite the Teddy Bears’ Picnic tableau was damaged last year in the storms. It’s been refurbished – look out from the bears’ stylish new t-shirts including I  ‘Heart’ BPL and Blackpool FC designs.

Teddies refurbished for 2012 Blackpool Illuminations

Theatre D’Amour
Laurence Llewelyn Bowen’s Theatre D’Amour feature will feature new characters for 2012.


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