New sponsors and new features for Blackpool Illuminations in 2014

(This page was originally published in summer of 2014, to mark new illuminations for 2014).

Thursday 17 July saw a big crowd gather at Lightworks for the season preview of the 2014 Illuminations, and we were there.

It doesn’t seem like two minutes since we were gathered there last year, and only a matter of weeks away from the start of the greatest free light show on earth.

It was a lovely sunny morning for my drive along the promenade to Lightworks, the huge Illuminations depot at south shore, where the magic happens.

I’ve lived here for several years now, and let’s face it I’m also middle aged! Every time I drive along the prom I get a thrill just from being in Blackpool. I’m not on my own either – talking to people many others feel the same.

You hear a variety of accents, many others aren’t Sandgrown and have moved here to live and work. It doesn’t matter how old you are, we all love Blackpool.

Why? because it makes us feel like a kid again.

Season launch for new illuminations 2014
Season launch for new illuminations 2014

And so say all of us!

And so says the ‘Creative Curator’, resident celebrity and thoroughly nice chap, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen. He once again regaled the crowd with tales of reflective wet pavements and paper wrapped chips. I have to hand it to him, for a southerner with the tastes of a self confessed dandy (he’s always searching for the perfect moustache wax) he really does love our great town.

He really does love the place and speaks with a passion about why people should work together and support the Illuminations. They’re a massive boost to our economy at a time of year when other seaside resorts are fast asleep. Whether you know it or not, all businesses get some kind of benefit from the huge economic boost they bring each year.

The event started with a surprisingly few words from Illuminations head man Richard Ryan, followed by a rallying call from Councillor Graham Cain, Portofolio Holder responsible for Tourism at Blackpool Council. I was thrilled when there was even a name check for us at the end!

Revamped Alice in Wonderland, new illuminations for 2014
Revamped Alice in Wonderland, new illuminations for 2014

So what’s happening this year then.

A makeover of Alice in Wonderland (above) and she comes back complete with her garden. It’s been sponsored by the Houndshill Shopping Centre. They’re one of the first local businesses to get on board with the brave new world of making the Illuminations self sustaining for the future. I had my photo taken in front of that – in front of the Joker actually. Not sure whether there’s any significance to that!

Houndshill aren’t the only company to get involved this year. Local energy company BES Utilities have done a major two year sponsorship deal. You might not have heard of BES, but you will if I tell you that it’s the energy company based at Fleetwood. It’s Chaired by Andy Pilley who is also Chairman of Fleetwood Town FC.

Another company you won’t have heard of unless you’re a hotelier is eviivo, who provide an online booking system. They’ve sponsored a new road section of twenty spinning wheels near to South Pier called Dynamo.

I’d also got chatting to artist Jo Berry who has created the ‘Brain Container’ installation in a shipping container at the Cliffs at Bispham. I’d seen an acrylic disc in Illuminations boss Richard Ryan’s office, and wondered what it was. Only Richard can get away with saying ‘it’s a brain of course’ and seem perfectly sane! 36 of these discs will spin, rotate and illuminate in the container – actually they would have looked grand mounted on an office wall as modern art.

Season launch for new illuminations for 2014
Season launch for new illuminations for 2014

If you’re enjoying the Lights from your car on one of Laurence’s famous rainy nights where the lights twinkle and reflect from the wet pavements, you might enjoy a new audio cd from the Bradshaw’s – the classic Lancashire Radio comedy. Author Buzz Hawkins narrates a guide to the Illuminations that you can listen to while trundling along.

The Blackpool Experience App is back, with new features including mini-games and augmented reality for all you lovers of gadgets and tech, triggered by the giant markers along the prom and Cliffs area, and providing a fun-filled guide.

Working Together to Create New Illuminations for 2014

The whole Illuminations team are a really friendly bunch. They welcome anyone with any kind of idea, including working with schools who’ve been programming light sequences with Raspberry Pi. There’s been a schools design competition, along with Clean Up Blackpool and Save our Seas.

There are various ways you can contribute to the Illuminations fund too.

I’m an Ambassador with the Friends of the Illuminations, so the next job after the talks and speeches was to have the obligatory photo call. We all snuggled up to Laurence for our group photo. Lovely to look back on in years to come, and another memory of another lovely day here in Blackpool.

See you in the Lights!

Ambassadors for the Friends - new illuminations for 2014
Ambassadors for the Friends – at the launch of new illuminations for 2014

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