The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - September 5

Pictures Martin Bostock'Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On 2013'Gary Barlow
Pictures Martin Bostock'Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On 2013'Gary Barlow
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Great news – the Illuminations are on!

Great news – the Illuminations are on!

I love this time of year. My little face lights up as I head down Squires Gate towards the sea and join the traffic-clogged roads where you can bet your bottom dollar some clown will try and edge as far up the left lane as they can, as if going to St Annes, before indicating right at the last moment to try and push their way into the Illuminations lane, thus bringing the entire left lane to a standstill.

But let’s be honest, a few queues and a bit of road-rage aside, you can’t whack ‘em.

They look pretty good this year too, though the actual Switch-On will, unfortunately, be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Well, that’s not quite true. Gary Barlow was great. Whether you like his music or not – and I’m not a huge fan – there is no denying the man is slicker than an oil spill.

But the bigger issue is how on earth can the famous moment when the Lights are switched on, an event which has attracted huge crowds for the last 100 years, end up being watched by a few thousand people in a half-empty arena?

That’s what happened this time after the decision to charge £34. Given that for the previous century the event has been completely free to attend, that’s one hell of a sharp rise.

I don’t pretend to know all the details/politics of why it was necessary to charge but one basic fact remains: £34 is way, way too much. Next year, for the sake of the success of Switch-On night, the powers-that-be need to sort it out.