Blackpool Illuminations meet 'Northern Lights' as new light technology set to put resort 'back on the map' as world leading in light attractions

Rregional director for Northern, Chris Jackson with Sweep, creative curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Richard Cadell with Sooty and coun Gillian Campbell.
Rregional director for Northern, Chris Jackson with Sweep, creative curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Richard Cadell with Sooty and coun Gillian Campbell.

Blackpool’s Illuminations will welcome the ‘Northern Lights’ this year – as the beleaguered rail firm looks to make amends for months of chaos on the trains.

Northern was named as a sponsor of this year’s Illumination, with the rail operator set to invest in a new state-of-the-art LED “corridor of colour” at the southern end of the world famous attraction.

The firm repeatedly came under fire from passengers over delays and cancellations, following a series of problems after a new timetable was introduced in May last year.

And there was anger in Blackpool when Northern cancelled half of its services to the resort due to engineering works over the weekend of last year’s air show.

The investment in the Lights comes on the back of Northern’s roll out of a new £500m fleet of cutting edge trains that regional director, Chris Jackson, who was at the Illuminations preview yesterday said would “transform travel” for those venturing to and from the resort.

Read here to find out who will pull the switch on the 2019 Illuminations:

Creative curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen at the Illuminations preview

Creative curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen at the Illuminations preview

He said: “We totally understand the frustrations for our customers in Blackpool from last year and we have really invested in developing and improving our performance.

“We have made a massive investment in the new fleet, the new trains are totally accessible, state-of-the-art, designed to give all users a positive experience.

“This new opportunity with Blackpool Council was a way for us to build relationships and allow us to give something back.

“We are very proud to have this association and to add the corridor, which looks fantastic and we hope will encourage new visitors coming in by rail to enjoy the Illuminations.”

Creative curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen

Creative curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen

The big reveal came at the 2019 launch at the Lightworks depot, in Amy Johnson Way, where design consultant and creative curator Laurence Llewelywn Bowen announced 2019 would be the year to throw new light on the resort.

He declared it was time to put Blackpool “back on the map” once more as the world’s first and best in light attractions.

The new sponsorship deal was unveiled as part of a new programme, which will also give someone for the first time ever a chance to have their own design immortalised in light and standing proud in the Golden Mile in front of the Tower and Comedy Carpet with the launch of a £100,000 Illuminations competition.

Here is how you can apply for the Illuminations competition:

Illuminations preview at Lightworks, Coun Gillian Campbell.

Illuminations preview at Lightworks, Coun Gillian Campbell.

The competition is being hailed as a new era for the Lights to add a new dimension, “energy and vibrancy” for holiday makers in the 21st century.

The new additions are part of longer term strategy to build on the Lights historic legacy but cement its place as the world’s first lights attraction while competing with other leading attractions around the world.

Other new additions to the 2019 display, which will be switched on by Blackpool born, award-winning Coronation Street star Lucy Fallon, in front of 20,000 people on Friday 30 August, include:

* A new giant 3D Sooty display – a large scale tribute to the longest-running children’s TV puppet star, first discovered in Blackpool;

* An extension to the annual award-winning Lightpool Festival, for two weeks from October 11 to 26 and including the return of spectacular live performances by Pyronix and Carnival of the Lights;

* Northern Lights – a corridor of colour as visitors arrive at the southern end of the display and sponsored by Northern Rail

Illuminations preview at Lightworks

Illuminations preview at Lightworks

* NeoHearts – a new section of specially manufactured LED neon flex lighting to light up the promenade in colours of the rainbow; and

* 4Wall Theatre of Light cutting edge lighting technology.

Mr Llewelywn Bowen said: “You cannot underestimate the excitement and affinity around the world still for Blackpool’s Illuminations, on the doorstep, as part of the fabric for people living in Blackpool, year after year – it’s easy to take it for granted.

“The Illuminations have been unbelievably supported over the years, it is part of the leisure make-up but as times have moved on and the environment around us changing so dramatically the challenge is to bring something new for people in the 21st century.

“Blackpool is the branding, the yard stick measure for others in creating an iconic experience and so it’s vital we continue to bring that innovation, newness, excitement back into the town.”

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “The Illuminations are one of the most enduring tourist attractions in the UK and bring a huge economic boost to Blackpool at a time when most resorts are putting up the shutters and left in the dark.

“It is particularly encouraging to see new businesses coming forward to support the Illuminations and help us reinvent them for future generations.

“But as with all attractions the Illuminations need refreshing continually and that is the challenge but it is a challenge we willingly accept and we aim to rise to the occasion.

“This is why our partnerships with businesses local and big sponsors is so important in helping to ensure the magic of the Illuminations for future generations.”