Let there be lights

AS the summer season draws to a close and rival resorts go into hibernation, Blackpool looks forward to some long autumn nights bathed in light and colour.

The Illuminations are considered to be the greatest free light show on earth, which entertains millions of visitors each year and brings glowing warmth to even the coldest October evening.

See our celeb switch on gallery

The Illuminations have been a major part of Blackpool's attractions since 1879 when they were described as Artificial Sunshine.

They've been a guiding light for visitors ever since and, in more recent times, have been complemented by the annual Festival of Light - a contemporary look at the concept of light and art working together to create entertainment.

The festival features a number of interactive installations designed to amuse and provoke thought in the visitor, and also produces a calendar of Illuminating events.

Brightest night of all has to be the Big Switch On, when thousands of people gather to witness the first illuminating night of the season, and the pulling of that famous switch - this year by actor David Tennant of BBC TV Dr Who fame.

It will come at the end of an hour long live concert, put together by BBC Radio Two, featuring some of the biggest names on today's music scene.

On this and every other night of the season, Blackpool's Illuminations retain the magic and excitement which every visitor experiences on their first trip through the Lights as a child.

The styles and technology however are constantly adapting to address the green issues of conservation and energy efficiency.

The Illuminations offer a host of different experiences and ways to view the glittering spectacle.

While most visitors drive through the Lights either by car, coach or bus, there are other more exciting and rewarding ways of viewing the dazzling displays.

Hop aboard an open top tram for the clearest view of the Lights, or perhaps take a ride in a horse-drawn landau carriage for a special romantic treat.

You can, of course, walk through the Illuminations with a warm coat (and a bag of chips!) - the best way to get involved with this uniquely Blackpool attraction.

So what can you expect?

- Tying in with the TV Timelord, there will also be a Dr Who section of Illuminations along the seafront.

- Another TV favourite, interior design guru and Holiday programme presenter Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, has created a Central Promenade feature called Decodance.

- The Festival of Light is a series of events and installations which form part of the Illuminations and among the highlights are the UK's first Illuminated Art Car Parade and the return of the ever-popular Honda Goldwing Light Parade.

- And no-one will be able to miss the colourful noise of the World Fireworks Championships which will be staged on the first Sunday of the Illuminations before moving to Fridays until September 28.