Meet Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, Creative Curator

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen is well known as the flamboyant star of TV programmes like Changing Rooms. For several years he’s also been ‘Creative Curator of the Illuminations’.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, Creative Curator of Blackpool Illuminations
Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, Creative Curator of Blackpool Illuminations

It’s a flamboyant Light Show, so it takes a special, flamboyant personality to front it. Each year Laurence is involved in designing, refining and reviewing what will keep the Lights fresh and relevant for today’s world.

He’s an Ambassador par excellence who speaks passionately about the Illuminations and Blackpool. He galvanises local businesses to get involved and gets people falling in love with Blackpool. That might be for the first time or all over again.

Why does Laurence Llewelyn Bowen love Blackpool?

Well he’s truly a fan of our famous seaside resort!

In 2005 he was filming a holiday programme and says “I was adamant that I wanted to take the show to two places: Llandudno (apt for a man with such a Welsh name) and Blackpool.

He added “Barbados is all well and good, but most of us can go on holiday in the UK rather than just dreaming about foreign shores.”

Laurence has fond memories of Blackpool. His first big job in 1986 was designing floors at the Winter Gardens. Changing Rooms and Fantasy Rooms have both filmed here many times so he’s been to Blackpool a lot over the years.

He’s got a favourite anecdote when waxing lyrical about why he loves Blackpool.

“There’s nothing like a bag of chips in the evening air, a stroll on the damp promenade with the lights twinkling on wet pavements. It’s what your memories are made of, it’s what your parents and grandparents remember. It’s a truly unique thing that joins generations together in shared experience”.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen making a passionate speech at the 2014 season preview for the Blackpool Illuminations
Making a passionate speech at the 2014 season preview for the Blackpool Illuminations

Why did Laurence Llewelyn Bowen get involved?

He’d met Richard Ryan, the equally large-as-life Head of Blackpool Illuminations, and they’d talked shop at length. Eventually Richard had contacted Laurence to ask if he would like to get involved and provide some design help.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen at Blackpool Illuminations Season Launch 2017. Richard Ryan is at the left of shot.
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen at Blackpool Illuminations Season Launch 2017

A large part of his role is curatorial – making sure that the Illuminations are as good as they can be for the visiting public. Blackpool Council contribute £2m a year to this annual display, but that leaves little or no money to spend on new displays. The help that Laurence provides with design is invaluable in encouraging business contributions – and making the pot for new projects stretch as far as it will go.

He’s also fabulous at reading the riot act to the business community. Like the time when he came to the Blackpool Business Leadership Group meeting and told everyone to dig deep and get their cheque books out! A very enthusiastic and rousing speech at 8.30am on a wintery Friday morning had the desired effect. After that Houndshill Shopping Centre sponsored the Alice tableau for three years.

A Really Nice Man

He’s a dandy, always immaculately dressed and just as he appears on TV. Faced with a room full of excited Blackpool people with varying northern accents he joins in with everyone. He makes everyone feel at ease, is very down-to-earth and chats away. After several years of involvement he’s known to many and picks up conversations as if he’d never left.

All joking apart, as Laurence is forever telling them all the businesses in Blackpool feel the economic benefit of the Lights. If they want that to continue, and they want their businesses to continue to benefit, and they want Blackpool to flourish and prosper, there’s only one way in which that’s going to happen, and that’s if they help.

‘They’ll take it better from me’ says Laurence.
Because he’s flamboyant, and charismatic, and because he can!

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen with the Switch On switch
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen with the Switch

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