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Illuminations light up the north

Blackpool Illuminations appear in Sheffields Peace Gardens. Below: Festoon from Blackpool Illuminations transforms this streets of Chorley.

Blackpool Illuminations appear in Sheffields Peace Gardens. Below: Festoon from Blackpool Illuminations transforms this streets of Chorley.

  • by Craig Fleming
 

A DALEK, the Tardis and an oversized Teddy Bear...

Now where have you seen them all in the run up to Christmas, as we are encouraged to go out to the shops and buy our gifts?

Yes, all three are part of Blackpool’s own festive Illuminations in St John’s Square, but this December you will also find the resort’s twinkling handiwork above the crowds of shoppers in Sheffield, Liverpool, York, Chorley, and - here on the doorstep - in St Annes.

As soon as the seafront Lights went off in early November, the Illuminations team turned its attention to sifting and sorting through a host of features, before transporting them inland and erecting them in other towns and cities.

At one time Blackpool would have frowned upon giving any assistance to rivals, but in hard cash terms, mounting displays like these, together with other contracts throughout the this year, have brought in at least £30,000 to the service.

Coun Graham Cain, Blackpool’s cabinet member for tourism and culture said: “The Illuminations are a much-loved tourism attraction across the country, so it’s not suprising other towns want to share our success, especially at Christmas.

“It’s fantastic we are able to pass on our expertise, and sometimes equipment, to help light up other parts of England.

“The money raised from this work can then come back into the main Illuminations show when they are switched on again in August, making them bigger, brighter and better to bring even more crowds into the town during the autumn season.”

Where you can see our Lights this Christmas:

Sheffield

Liverpool

York

Chorley

St Annes

Head of Illuminations Richard Ryan added: “We do it primarily to earn money for the Illuminations, because any profits go straight back into funding the main Blackpool show. I assure you we don’t spend it on traffic wardens.”

Perhaps the biggest of this year’s festive light shows is in Sheffield, where a popular feature is proving to be the galleon and various colourful characters from the pirate tableau which graces the Bispham clifs each autumn. A Dalek, the Tardis and numerous Teddy Bears are also all lit up in the Yorkshire city, where Mr Ryan grew up.

He said: “As a child my parents used to take me from Sheffield to see the Blackpool Illuminations. I loved the atmosphere and spectacle of it. Ironically they were not the main interest for me back then. I was obsessed with my home town’s spectacular Christmas display and Blackpool was seen by me as the ‘warm up’.

“Fast forward 40 years, an opportunity came about to partner with Sheffield on celebrating the centenary of our Illuminations and we jumped at the chance.”

The Sheffield lights were launched in front of an estimated 30,000 crowd by former Spice Girl Melanie C, heading a star-studded line-up that included X Factor winners Matt Cardle and Joe McElderry.

Chorley’s lights were switched on by Coronation Street’s Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas), joined by X factor finalist Jonjo Kerr, and 80s pop group Black Lace.

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